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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Thursday, Nov. 27, 2014

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Tegan (left) and Sara rocked The Pabst last night.
Tegan (left) and Sara rocked The Pabst last night. (Photo: CJ Foeckler)

Tegan and Sara powered up The Pabst

About a decade ago, when my sons were babies and toddlers, we used to drive around listening to music almost every day. It was a way for me to kill time during those endless days of care giving and driving around in the car with the two of them safely strapped down, was one of the few keys to my sanity.

During this time, we listened to a lot of different music, but Tegan and Sara topped our list. We listened to their albums "If I Was You" and "So Jealous" over and over, driving up and down the lakefront, and later, when it came out in 2007, "The Con."

Eventually, my kids knew all of the songs. I even had a joke with my son who asked at some point during every tune, "Is this Tegan or Sara?" 

So taking them to last night's concert at the Pabst Theater was full circle for me. It was their first indoor concert and although it heavily reminded me of the Disappeared Baby Days, it was symbolic of their soon-to-be adolescence that will most likely include many more concerts.

And despite major expectations levels, the show did not disappoint any of us.

Tegan and Sara played for an enthusiastic audience in an almost-full Pabst Theater. They drew heavily from previous albums, but peppered the set with new tunes from "Heartthrob," their seventh studio album, which came out last month.

"Heartthrob" is a much poppier and produced album compared to their others, but worked extremely well in a live setting. Songs like "Closer" really got the crowd out of their seats and dancing.

They also rocked out with classics like "I Just Want Back In You Head," "Walking With A Ghost," "Arrow," "The Con," "Where Did The Good Go," "Burn Your Life Down," "Living Room," "Call It Off," "19" and "Alligator."

From the new album they also played "I was a Fool," "I'm Not Your Hero," "Love They Say" and "Now I'm All Messed Up."

The encore was a medley – yes, a medley – of fan favorites including "Monday Monday Monday," "You Wouldn't Like Me" and more. I really don't know how they got away with it, other than because they are so passionate and genuine in their presentation, but somehow the medley was completely uncheesy. Instead it was masterful, with one song flowing into the next into the next, seamlessly. It was an intravenous Tegan and Sara rush for hardcore fans. 

Tegan and Sara Quinn are 32-year-old, Canadian, identical twin sisters who are both openly lesbian. They formed as a band in 1995 in Calgary. They both play the guitar and keyboards, as well as write songs.

Tegan lives in Vancouver and Los Angeles; Sara lives in Montreal and New York City. They collaborate via the Internet and when they are together touring. The fact they spend little time together other than when touring is part of their dynamic, and not one I'm going to speculate on, but there's a fair share of tension and snark between the two of them on stage.

At one point, Tegan called out Sara for saying she only had "funny feelings" for two famous women in her life – one of which was Whitney Houston. Sara insisted this was true, but Tegan clearly didn't believe it.

Both of the sisters spoke to the audience often and conversationally. They were both very appreciative of the audience, and thanked us for letting them be themselves.

Sara offered more feminist commentary, which was well received by the audience, but they both had a lot of stage presence and charm.

At last night's show, they both wore '80s blazers and Tegan had an a-symmetrical hair style. But despite the somewhat preppy attire, Tegan's heavily tattooed arms were visible beyond her rolled-up blazer sleeves.

Sara spoke of being a band that was around before the age of social media and how different it is now, with every show having so many "digital tattoos." She called out an audience member for texting while she was trying to talk to her.

"I'm before the Internet," Sara said. "If people even break eye contact with me, I'm offended."

Twenty minutes later, a tech guy handed us one of the set lists from the show, completing what I believe was the ultimate first concert experience.

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