Before Tegan and Sara went into “I Was a Fool” during their Love You to Death tour at the Observatory, Tegan dedicated the single to one particular person.
“The ‘new’ me is going to dedicate this to the ‘old’ me, and the ‘old’ me dedicates this to those who still needs that seven hours,” said Tegan, who was the more upbeat and vocal of the twins.
She referred to the “old” Tegan as the partner who keeps the argument in a relationship going even if the point was made seven hours ago. But some fans of her band could apply the idea of the “new” and “old” more to her and her sister Sara’s band — the divide of “indie” vs. “pop” Tegan and Sara that appeared when they released its pop success of a record, Heartthrob, three years ago.
But if the imaginary divide still exists with fans, the Love You to Death tour put that mainstream-indie split to rest. The band re-fashioned older songs from So Jealous, The Con and Sainthood to fit with the synth glam of their past two releases, Heartthrob and their new one, Love You to Death. The polite pianos of “Back in Your Head” got a new life as a dance-pop jam with its original bounce in tact. The overblown guitars of “Northshore” powered more of a throwback New Wave tune than jagged punk. “Nineteen” turned into a sparse, crushing piano ballad with the chorus soaring into new heights. Tegan and Sara were brilliant pop writers all along, their skills showing through the seams no matter how they dressed it.
While they blurred the lines splitting the old and new, the dialog between the two timelines also made for a strong set choice. The Con opener “I Was Married” introduced “BWU,” the bashful anti-marriage single from Love You to Death. Both written and sung by Sara, the change in her view about a white wedding over the past decade cannot be greater. And the shift in how she voiced her thoughts, from a whisper to a gut-reaching chorus, sums up how it feels to watch her progress as a songwriter.
Tegan and Sara’s tidbits about how certain songs came to be lit up the show as much as witnessing their creative growth. While strumming the chords for “Call It Off,” Tegan reminisced on how she could not keep off of MySpace during the time she wrote it. The song’s memorable line, “maybe you would’ve been something I’d be good at,” soon became less about unrequited love and more a second-screen daydream with Tegan sighing the words as she scrolls through stranger’s profile photos.
It’s this kind of fourth-wall breaking and moments for jokes that have drawn fans to Tegan and Sara no matter how far they’ve gone since they first started. They’ve made serious songs overall, and Love You to Death kept that professionalism in tact with a small sacrifice of some of the goofy fun found in Heartthrob. But on stage, that seriousness comes off. From Tegan’s push for the #DoublePony hash tag to her indulging in relationship-related banter with the crowd, Tegan and Sara sounded the most comfortable with the crowd by getting a little awkward.