SAN FRANCISCO — A lot can change over a decade. For indie rock sisters Tegan and Sara, the late aughts were marked by a tough period that consisted of personal hardships, a divorce and the loss of a relative.
Tegan and Sara channeled the heartache and grief by creating The Con, the Canadian duo’s fifth studio album. And while the duo has gone through many milestones since—they’ve won three Juno awards and were Academy Award nominees, to name a few—The Con remains one of the their most landmark works to date. Candid and heartbreaking, The Con has a soul-soothing sincerity that is timeless for fans, old and new.
Now, Tegan and Sara are celebrating The Con’s 10th anniversary with a benefit tour, with proceeds going to their foundation for LGBTQIA girls and women. They performed the album from start to finish at The Masonic Wednesday, playing new acoustic arrangements of every track.
For the special evening, the music venue transformed into a seated hall. Four banners of album art sketches draped over the stage, lighting was minimal and Tegan and Sara took the stage with two backing band members. They opened with “I Was Married” that, while stripped down, still had keys that rang like desolate wedding bells. The song quickly went into “Relief Next to Me,” which reminisces the twins’ quirky and folksy song style that was quintessential to their earlier releases. Then came title track “The Con.”
“That was our songwriting style back then; to write one-and-a-half-ish minute songs,” Tegan Quin joked after pointing out the compact runtime of the album.
Tegan and Sara made the audience feel at home with their stage banter, even with the arranged seating and formal ambience. Backstories of The Con turned into playful jabs toward each other, then into Tegan complimenting the audience, and finally into an anecdote about Sara Quin’s poor eyesight—she couldn’t make out the crowd—and refusal to wear corrective lenses.
The rest of the night flowed through the album, from the catchy “Back in Your Head” and bittersweet “Nineteen,” to the heart-wrenching “Call It Off,” followed by an eight-song encore of other material.