When musicians play San Diegoâ€™s distinguished Copley Symphony Hall, they usually donâ€™t get bras thrown at them. Itâ€™s hard to imagine, say, Yo-Yo Ma getting pelted with ladies’ foundation garments during a set. But thatâ€™s exactly what happened when Canadian super twins Tegan and Sara played Copley on Wednesday night.
A symphony hall is an odd choice of venue for the indie pop duo, best known for the guitar-driven hit â€œWalking With a Ghostâ€. But the bourgeois setting and steep prices didnâ€™t stop fans from packing the place. The mostly female crowd greeted the duo with a level of amorous, shrieking intensity once reserved for The Beatles, and it wasnâ€™t long before the band was dodging the throngâ€™s thongs.
The sisters began the set with a block from their most recent album, Sainthood. Songs like â€œThe Oceanâ€, â€œOn Directingâ€ and â€œHellâ€ showcased Tegan and Saraâ€™s urgent, precocious harmonies, and the backing band performed like a well-oiled machine. Unfortunately, the groupâ€™s professionalism was marred by an off-balance mix that left the vocals and all three guitars drowned out by loud, sludgy bass. The resulting sound resembled something you might hear blasting from the speakers of a passing car, not what you’d expect from a night at the symphony.
The sound problems plagued the band all night, but the crowd didn’t even notice. The fans loved Tegan and Sara so much they wouldnâ€™t even listen to them, opting instead to scream over the shy, polite duo between and even during the songs. Though clearly accustomed to extreme fanaticismâ€”the sisters joked that they are in the process of constructing a quilt from all the padded bras that have been hurled at them during showsâ€”they eventually ran out of patience for the antics, and took to alternately berating the crowd and pleading with them to shut up.
Tegan and Saraâ€™s music is charming and catchy, floating somewhere between college rock and Top 40 pop, but after a while a sameness becomes apparent. The brief songs rush through perfunctory verses on their way to catchy chorus payoffs, but the driving, monotonous guitar and basic melodies lack the variety needed to sustain interest for a twenty-song set.
The sound and variety problems were simultaneously solved by the sistersâ€™ encore. Tegan and Sara returned to the stage without their backing band, and the reprieve from the excessive low end allowed their musical prowess to finally shine. With just an acoustic guitar and xylophone, the duo launched into a captivating version of â€œYou Wouldnâ€™t Like Meâ€â€”from their 2004 breakthrough So Jealousâ€”that showed off the emotional marksmanship that has earned them their devoted following. Finally free of obstruction, Tegan and Sara’s revealing songwriting and tender delivery came together in a moment of quiet, captivating beauty.
Then the bras began to fly again.