Sealing the Twin Pop Deal: Tegan and Sara Live in Manila

On November 25, an intimate crowd gathered at the NBC Tent in Bonifacio Global City and placed their hopes and dreams in a Canadian duo who has been enjoying wide success in the indie music scene for years now.

For fans of identical twins Tegan and Sara Quin, the entire night was spent singing along to an extensive repertoire and going through a lot of mixed feelings. For non-fans, or casual listeners as they call it, it was an instant alt-pop auditory journey through the lilting female vocals that filled the venue, coupled with the shrieks and screams coming from the fanboys and fangirls.

Dynamic and pleasant to the ears, Tegan and Sara wowed the Philippine crowd and further validated why they, by leaps and bounds, should hold the unequivocal tag of being Canada’s best export (next to hockey), and why they deserve to saturate the world charts instead of a certain male teenybopper from the same country who’s known for underage drinking and high-pitched ballads.

Twin sister act

With all their pure singer-songwriter chops and the new, more accessible sound that’s evident in their seventh album, Heartthrob in tow, the Quin girls managed to soak up the venue in the interesting feel and aesthetic unique only to them beginning with the song “Drove Me Wild.”

Immediately following it was the radio-friendly, “Goodbye, Goodbye,” and a single from their fifth studio album The Con titled “Back in Your Head.”

Tegan and Sara, or T+S to fans, were able to create an impressive bag of songs in their set list, and were able to satisfy the whims of crowd. They performed several tracks from their latest release such as “Now I’m All Messed Up” and “I Was a Fool” and followed them with “Sentimental Tune” from 2009’s Sainthood.

Despite having no discernible pattern in the order of songs performed, it was clear that they were trying to avoid alienating old listeners and new listeners alike by alternating between old favorites and their slick new attempts at mainstream bigness.

For these Calgary-born twins who started making music in 1995, the segment of the concert devoted to the old favorites was also a means of trying to compensate for the long overdue visit.

“We took a lot of years to get here. Fourteen, actually,” one half of the androgynous pair quipped midway through their set, perhaps as an intro to the old breakup anthem popular among high school kids at the time, “Where Does the Good Go?” from the 2004 album So Jealous.

T+S also did a pretty swell job at dividing the crowd; half were T-Teamers or bigger fans of Tegan, who favored the raspy, guttural howl that came from the smooth vocalist, while half belonged to the S-Siders, a segment devoted to the more quirky yet reserved Sara.

But ultimately, the show was all about the girls shaking things up and making things more interesting. “Feel It in My Bones,” a song by Dutch trance artist Tiesto where they featured in, made the crowd turn nuts, while their biggest hit this year, “Closer” closed the main set, sealed the deal, and firmly cemented their newfound position as the dark horses of pop stardom.

Heartthrobs on stage, sweethearts off stage

If there was something worth sharing about their recent visit aside from waxing poetic about how amazing they sounded live, it’s certainly the stories of the tight knit community of fans who went out of their way to show their love for T+S.

Some went on great lengths to squeeze themselves into the packed meet and greet activity at the Greenbelt 5 Fashion Walk the day before. Some tweeted that they had to skip work or classes just to watch the show, while some fans had already lined up outside the venue 12 hours before the gates opened.

Basing on how Tegan and Sara reacted to the support shown by adoring Pinoy fans, it looked like they were humbled and elated.

The duo even tweeted photos of gifts from fans, which were mostly comprised of creative fan art (someone gave them their own illustrated cookies) and other nifty thingamajigs that made their stopover even more unforgettable, particularly the “Sara made me do it” shirt Tegan wore when they performed.

And although T+S were here to have fun and rock out with their audience, they never forgot about the more serious stuff, i.e., giving back to the people who needed help.

Armed with the awareness of the recent calamity that struck the country, the openly gay indie darlings also did their part to help Haiyan relief efforts by allocating a portion of their ticket sales to the Canadian Red Cross.

They also auctioned off some signed official merchandise on eBay to raise more funds for their chosen charity.

The dark horses of pop

For the last decade or so, the twin sister act played the comfortable role of being indie rock mainstays. It went well for them, so it was expected that they’d do well in this area every time they take the stage.

But they pulled off a bigger surprise when they played in Manila. They’ve also proven that they can put an interesting twist to a lesser known turf (in their circle, at least) filled with upbeat, synth-based, produced hooks. In what perhaps can be dubbed as a calculated, inch-by-inch crossover to the mainstream side of the spectrum, Tegan and Sara pulled of up a pop music show. And as luck (and sheer talent) would have it, they’re also pretty damn good at it – so there’s really nothing much to complain about.

This article originally appeared on indie music site Vandals on the Wall.


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