Tegan and Sara bring their acoustic ‘Not Tonight’ tour to the Chatham Capitol Theatre

Canadian pop-rock duo Tegan and Sara brought their stripped-down ‘Not Tonight’ tour to the Chatham Capitol Theatre on Thursday, March 28, 2024.

Showcasing the raw and grassroots talent that sparked the early part of their career, the twin Quin sisters performed the entirety of their 2002 album ‘If It Was You’, spreading the 12 tracks out as part of their 20-song acoustic set.

Tegan told the Chatham crowd on Thursday that playing all of the songs from their third album, which they’ve described as “the first one that truly set our band on its way,” is comparable to playing Sudoku.

“Arrangements, lyrics, my brain gets very… not to say when I play songs that we play all the time that I don’t think about it, but you kind of go into this flow and you don’t really think about it,” Tegan said.

“These songs, I really have to think about it. So this is show six (on this tour), so every once in a while I’ll find myself starting to get into the flow, which kind of means a little bit that I daydream, just a teeny, teeny bit. A thought crept in about this morning when I went to Tim Hortons and got Timbits. I thought about them in that song and I was like ‘oh no, is it an A or a D? I don’t remember’.”

With only a touch of production during their set, the angelic and dynamic vocals of the twins were accentuated and were the focal point in the beautifully sounding Capitol Theatre.

Both Tegan and Sara took turns singing a few solo numbers during their performance, with an acoustic guitar in hand and one half of the pair’s vocals in the spotlight.

However, as always, when seeing Tegan and Sara perform live, the seamless harmonies between the sisters as they shared the Capitol stage were magical to watch and even more pleasing to hear.

On top of the ‘If It Was You’ songs, a handful of the duo’s other hits were also sprinkled throughout the set.

The simplified and artistic theme was on full display when Tegan and Sara’s two bandmates walked to the front of the stage, each holding a pair of long lights, placing the lights in front of them on the stage before sitting down cross-legged before the crowd.

The musicians, along with Tegan, raised their hands and started clapping to a beat simultaneously, while Sara strummed the familiar chords and sang the timeless words to their 2004 hit, ‘Walking With A Ghost’.

Another staple in a Tegan and Sara show is the friendly banter, engagement, and stories shared with the crowd.

After mentioning to the audience about buying Timbits earlier in the day, Tegan expanded further when an audience member asked her ‘what her favorite TimBit was?’

“There was an incident at the Tim Hortons while I was there, which was a very exciting way to start the day here in Chatham,” Tegan said, adding that despite the “altercation” in the store, she proceeded to wait in line.

“When I got up to the front, I felt like I needed something more substantial from having waited. Everybody was on the bus waiting to load in here, so I was like, I’ll get everybody Timbits. When the guy took my order I said ‘And a box of 20 Timbits, please’ and I said ‘no birthday cake.’”

Tegan added: “Here’s the thing, it has nothing to do with the flavor, it’s just math. There were six flavors and I just couldn’t do the math, if I took one out, then it’s an even number split. Anyway, a very confusing exchange I had. In the middle of it all, I felt like he was going to fill the whole box with birthday cake because he misunderstood, but I was like ‘no, no, no, not all birthday cake, no birthday cake.’ In the end, we got an even distribution of all flavors, including birthday cake, and I’d say my favorite ended up being honey glazed. Thank you so much.”

After being asked by her sister, Sara added that she wasn’t really into donuts.

“I worked at a donut shop when I was in high school and it sickens me to remember the smell,” she said, drawing a chorus of laughter from the crowd.

Tegan and Sara also told stories about writing the songs from early in their career, when they were in their early 20s and during a difficult era when “low-waisted pants” were the current fashion trend.

There was also some back-and-forth engagement with a different set of twins in the crowd, a piercing, shrill, and exuberant pair from Windsor.

“Let’s talk to the person who is screaming because we need to know if they’re okay,” Tegan said, drawing another extended wail from the pair.

“Do you make any other noises?” Tegan added, drawing more laughs and applause.

One of the most touching exchanges during the show was when a young fan asked Sara if she could buy her water bottle.

After coming down to the edge of the stage and calling the fan up, Sara decided to give her the water bottle, plus a copy of the setlist. She added, in a joking manner, she’d do the trade in exchange for a small donation to the Tegan and Sara Foundation.

This spurred a number of other fans to rush the stage, $20 bills in hand, trading cash for guitar picks, other copies of the setlist, and handshakes from both Tegan and Sara.

“If anybody doesn’t know about the Tegan and Sara Foundation, we have celebrated our seventh year and we raise funds for the 2SLGBTQ+ community,” Sara told the crowd.

“We’re excited about all the great work that we’re doing as a foundation. All the incredible, absolutely amazing, mind-blowing, inspiring organizations who we support all over North America. There are so many. So many wonderful people, doing such great work.”

Tegan and Sara’s charitable work was a catalyst for a recent honor they received – the 2024 Humanitarian Award at the JUNOs.

“Since their inception, their music has sold over a million records, while their foray into various media, including TV and books, showcases their versatility,” officials with the JUNO Awards stated on their website.

“Their many JUNO Awards, Governor General’s Performing Arts Award and Honorary Doctor of Laws degrees from the University of Calgary underscore their significant contributions to music and advocacy. Although much to be proud of, their crowning achievement, thus far is the Tegan and Sara Foundation, which fights for health, economic justice, and representation for LGBTQ girls and women.”

JUNO officials added: “Tegan and Sara have openly identified as queer since the beginning of their career and have been outspoken feminist advocates for LGBTQ equality and gender justice. The Tegan and Sara Foundation is an extension of their work, identity, and longstanding commitment to supporting and building progressive social change. Launched in 2016, the foundation raises awareness and funds, fighting for equality and justice through its flagship program and supporting grassroots organizations, activists, and communities that often go unrecognized by major funding institutions.”

Here is a video of their acceptance speech, which included an introduction by fellow Canadian, advocate and actor Elliott Page:

Before the creation of the Tegan and Sara Foundation, Sara offered some advice for young people who may be struggling with their sexuality or having trouble accepting it, in a 2013 Q&A with SWOMP.

“I think that it’s a long process to accept yourself,” Sara said, over a decade ago.

“The world is a very heterosexual place and even with the support of family and friends I still struggle sometimes to feel normal. There are lots of days where being in the minority feels empowering and special but we all want to feel accepted and those are the days where we have to find comfort and support from friends and family.”

Sara added: “I like that Tegan and I have been outspoken and confident because in a way on the days where I don’t feel that way I feel the residual encouragement and energy of the audience and their acceptance of us. Getting involved in the community and being an activist helped me a lot. Taking all of that energy and doing something with it.”

Fast forward to 2024, and to Thursday night at the Chatham Capitol Theatre, Tegan and Sara expressed more admiration and gratitude to the Chatham-Kent audience.

“We’ve been touring for such a long time and every time we put a tour together, we obviously aim to please and do something new and special,” Tegan said.

“We also aim to have fun on stage. That was a nice goal a few years ago when we came out of our break, was to feel joy on stage, to like being in a band and recognize what an incredible gift it is to be able to travel around the world and bring together groups of people and to sing and tell stories.”

Tegan added: “Sometimes it seems like the silliest job in the world and there are just these incredible moments that happen, and a few happened tonight, where we realize what an incredible and unique experience it is to go through the world doing what we do. So, thank you for showing up tonight, it’s not a small thing, it’s a huge thing for us. A heartfelt thank-you to all the people who donated. It just means a lot.”

Here is the full setlist from the Tegan and Sara performance:

1. I Hear Noises
2. Monday Monday Monday
3. Want to Be Bad
4. Don’t Confess
5. Arrow
6. Hell
7. You Went Away
8. I Can’t Grow Up
9. Underwater
10. Time Running
11. Back in Your Head
12. My Number
13. Walking With a Ghost
14. Closer
15. Where Does the Good Go
16. Terrible Storm
17. City Girl
18. Living Room
19. And Darling (This Thing That Breaks My Heart)
20. Not Tonight

Here are a few more photos from the show:

Opening the show in Chatham on Thursday, and at every date on the 12-city Ontario tour, was Becca Mancari, an indie folk musician and singer from Staten Island, New York, who is now based in Nashville, Tennessee.

“This tour has been healing me,” Mancari told the Chatham crowd.

“In this way that, I sell my merch and literally when I get off the stage I’ll run back and sell my own merch, but so many parents have been at these shows because I think most of them are all ages, and truly sending me messages being like ‘I love my kid, thank you so much for being a queer artist.’ It has been therapy, I love it. This has been amazing.”

More details about Mancari can be found on her official website https://www.beccamancari.com/.

More details about Tegan and Sara can be found on their official website https://teganandsara.com/.

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