Tegan and Sara love Asheville to death

Tegan and Sara take in the cheering crowd of fans on Nov. 10 at The Orange Peel. Photo by Philip Wyatt.
Tegan and Sara take in the cheering crowd of fans on Nov. 10 at The Orange Peel. Photo by Philip Wyatt.

Karrigan Monk
A&F Staff Writer
kmonk@unca.edu

Fans begin lining up outside The Orange Peel before noon on Thursday. Doors do not open until 7 p.m., but nearly a dozen fans show up hours before to see Tegan and Sara. Many of the first in line have been following the band around North America for their tour in support of their new album, Love You to Death.

Late in the afternoon, the band comes by to say hi to those who have been waiting. They are gracious and thank the group profusely for coming.

When the doors finally open, fans rush to secure spots on the front row. On their way, they toss letters and postcards into a mailbox on the merch table. If the postcards are stamped and pre-addressed, Tegan and Sara will sign them and send them back.

The opening act, Torres, comes on stage at 8 p.m. and runs through a setlist of experimental rock songs. Before the last song, Torres reads a verse from the Bible in response to what she describes as the systematic silencing of marginalized groups by president-elect Donald Trump.

“I believe in you and I love you,” Torres said after reading the verse. “Evil will not prevail.”

After their set, Torres and her backing band tear down their equipment and build Tegan and Sara’s stage.

The light show begins. “I’m So Excited” plays as the crowd sings along as they eagerly await.

Sara gets emotional during Tegan and Sara's performance at The Orange Peel on Thursday. Photo by Philip Wyatt.
Sara gets emotional during Tegan and Sara’s performance at The Orange Peel on Thursday. Photo by Philip Wyatt.

Finally, the lights dim. Three people walk on stage and take their places. Two more people follow them, taking their place at the front of the stage. They are Tegan and Sara and the show is about to begin.

The opening number is an updated version of “Back in Your Head” from 2007s The Con. Originally a keyboard-heavy tune, the new version is more electronic, fitting in more with the sound Tegan and Sara cultivated on their last two albums.

Their 2013 effort, Heartthrob, was met with some reluctance from fans who expected the same indie-rock sounds they had associated with Tegan and Sara through the years. Heartthrob, a self-described pop album, introduced a different sound for the band evolving since their debut 17 years ago. Love You to Death is an extension of Heartthrob and the growth associated with it.

Despite the fans initial reactions, many have grown to love Heartthrob and accept the band has been moving toward a completely pop album since So Jealous was released in 2004. The sound may have changed, but the heartfelt lyrics are still there, the lyrics the audience are screaming along to at The Orange Peel.

After a few more songs, Tegan and Sara pause to talk to the audience.

“You guys, holy fuck what a shit week,” Tegan tells a cheering crowd. “We’re here to sing and dance and cry and tell you we love you.”

Tegan and Sara continue their banter, a signature of their live shows. At one point, Tegan complains about her small bed on the tour bus and how she always wakes up tangled in her heating pad. She said she missed her memory foam mattress and a fan screamed she could borrow theirs. The fan and Tegan had a short conversation about the mattress while Sara watched on, laughing.

As the conversation continued, another fan called for Tegan to come sleep with her. Sara tells the audience they are both in happy relationships but to feel free to mingle and meet someone there and if they do to let the band know with #imetmymateatteganandsara.

Tegan croons to a responsive audience matching her every word. Photo by Philip Wyatt.
Tegan croons to a responsive audience matching her every word. Photo by Philip Wyatt.

The show continues with Tegan and Sara playing songs from nearly all of their albums including Heartthrob, The Con, If It Was You, Sainthood and Love You to Death.

Halfway through the show, the backing band walks off the stage. A stagehand brings Tegan a painted guitar to perform two acoustic songs: “The Con” and “Call it Off.” This small intermission was a break from the high-energy sound from the rest of the show that has now come to define them.

With the new sound Tegan and Sara have cultivated with Heartthrob and Love You to Death, their live shows have evolved as well. At one time the band and their backing band would all be wearing different clothes and everyone would remain standing behind their microphone stands and instruments.

This tour introduced a new setup. The backing band is dressed completely in white, as are Tegan and Sara, with the additions of a flowing floral print top for Tegan and a black leather jacket for Sara. The two also move around the stage more frequently, dancing and coming to lower parts of the stage to get closer to the audience.

Throughout the show, both Tegan and Sara thanked the fans for everything they have done for the band.

“You guys have given us a lot over the last 17 years,” Sara said. “We are happy to fight as long you’ll have us.”

In response to Trump being elected and North Carolina’s HB2 bill that saw many musicians cancel shows in North Carolina, Tegan and Sara donated all of the money from merch sales from Thursday night’s show to EqualityNC.

“To boycott North Carolina would be a disservice to our fans, many of whom identify on the LGBTQ spectrum,” the band said in a Facebook post announcing the donation. “As we face the results of this U.S. election, we pledge to provide a safe environment for our fans to gather together.”

Although Tegan and Sara are Canadian, they also both identify as gay and say they are just as afraid as LGBTQ+ Americans, but will stand and fight for the rights of others.

“Please take care of each other,” Tegan said before wrapping up the show. “Be proud of yourself.”

       

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