Monday, 23 June 2008


Venue: Shepherds Bush Empire, London
Support: An Horse
Reviewer: Phil W

Like, the first band were pretty cool, aye! My heart like, totally sank when only a drummer and guitarist/vocalist walked unassumingly onto the stage but once they got going we really didn’t miss a bass player. An Horse were so awesome, I totally bought their EP after the show and the band were there at the desk to thank us for all our support and to sign our CD’s. Their sound was all wild drumming and massive, chunky riffs wrapped around alternative pop tunes which quickly sucked us in. Kate’s Mustang was massively overdriven, pummelling us with huge wedges of sound for her sharp vocals to cut through. Their set was short with little room to breathe inside the whirlwind of guitar except when Kate stopped for five minutes to tell us a story about airline hospitality. “They totally gave me a colouring book and everything!” she said. I remembered being let into the cockpit of a trans-Atlantic jumbo back in 1991 and wondered where those carefree days had gone…..

Tegan and Sara Quin like, totally know where it’s at. The singer-songwriter twin sister duo have been recording their own albums since they were kids, cutting their first two albums in their school’s recording studio in 1997. Living on opposite coasts of their Canadian homeland, the pair record demos of their songs at home, fully assembled with vocals and all the instruments, and then send the tapes to each other. By the time they reach the studio they like, totally know how they want the songs to sound and play most of the instruments themselves on new album The Con. Sara’s songs tend to be meticulously assembled idiosyncrasies while Tegan sticks with punk riffs and big chorus’s and the two styles totally compliment each other. Live, each of the sisters alternate between acoustic and electric guitars and a big red keyboard set just in front of the drum kit, their untrained vocals hitting somewhere on the middle ground between cute and angry, interweaving between each other and the instruments.

The two sisters opened alone with the gentle strum of Like O, Like H. It was like, a totally intimate moment with both sisters standing side by side on the stage strumming acoustic guitars. Then the backing band filed quickly onto the stage and the music exploded with the title track from new album The Con. “I listened in, yes I’m guilty of this you should know that” Tegan cried against a backdrop of swirling acoustic and electric guitars which seem to perfectly compliment each other in much the same way as the twins differing vocal deliveries. The Quins’ tiny pop songs, most of which are dispensed with well under the three minute mark, are consistently ingenious. Are You Ten Years Ago is a whirlwind of dark synth pop, Back In Your Head is a quaint piano driven pop song, Floorplan sounds like alt-folk on overdrive, So Jealous is epic with oozing synths. In between songs the pair chatter and bicker and tell stories; Sara went into great detail about her visit to a chiropractor earlier that day while Tegan dwelled on why she’s still single and questioned if Kate from An Horse was really the band’s best friend. The situation seemed complex, but after some playful banter she devoted the glorious single Nineteen to her; a story of teenage heartbreak wound tightly to a frame of simple punk pop.

Ingenuously diverse pop songs, tight performances, interweaving guitar melodies, and all delivered with unassuming ease, their banter affording an intimacy to the gig few other performers could master. Like, they totally rocked and I dug every minute! After the show I bought a t-shirt with my An Horse EP - Tegan and Sara morphing into trees; Treegan and Sara maybe? Awesome!

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