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Five thoughts: Tegan and Sara at the Pearl (October 21)

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Tegan, left, and Sara, performing Saturday night at the Pearl.
Photo: Bryan Steffy

1. This one was for the die-hards. The lengthy pre-concert merch line inside the Pearl suggested as much, as the dedicated waited for their chance to own pieces of Tegan and Sara history—and contribute to the sisters’ LGBTQ community-supporting foundation in the process. And throughout the show, a highly receptive audience cheered, shouted and whistled its approval of everything the pair attempted from their positions atop a large center-stage riser.

2. Tegan and Sara were in town celebrating the 10th anniversary of fifth album The Con, a 14-song collection Tegan referred to early in the show as “depressing” but “cathartic” to perform, particularly in light of the October 1 mass shooting on the Las Vegas Strip. Later, Tegan explained how releasing the left-of-center indie favorite on the heels of the band’s first big hit, “Walking With a Ghost,” didn’t make industry sense, but the duo did what felt right at the time.

3. Though the front-to-back live rendering of The Con had been billed as “stripped-down,” it was far from acoustic. Tegan and Sara played without a drummer, but were joined by guitarist Timothy Mislock and keyboardist/bassist Gabrial McNair—both of whom were fully electrified—and Tegan and Sara alternated turns on synthesizer. Still, in some cases Saturday’s versions differed considerably from the familiar studio renditions. The Sara-sung “Are You Ten Years Ago” shed a few layers, coming off even more haunting than the original; “Back in Your Head” lost a bit of its poppy cheekiness in translation; and “19” turned into the night’s showstopper, as Tegan’s voice soared above a more restrained instrumental mix.

4. The recorded version of The Con runs for 37 minutes; Saturday’s rendering lasted a smidge over an hour. Why the disparity? Banter—and lots of it. Tegan and Sara treated Saturday’s show as a sort of storytelling session, addressing the music, the time in which it was written and pretty much anything else that popped into their heads in the moment. Sara, in particular, told some memorably wild stories, including one about working at a donut shop back in Canada during her days as a “raver,” when the manager entrusted her with the keys to the safe.

5. The seven selections that followed The Con felt fun but somewhat superfluous, more like an encore than an equal portion of the main set. Tegan and Sara dug all the way back to 2002 for fan favorite “Living Room,” then time-warped forward for two cuts from 2013’s excellent pop excursion Heartthrob: “All Messed Up” and “Closer.” Maybe in six years they’ll return on that album’s 10-year anniversary tour.

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Spencer Patterson

Spencer Patterson is the Editor of Las Vegas Weekly, having previously served as Managing Editor, Arts & Entertainment Editor and ...

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