Tegan and Sara, one of the largest indie and alternative duos out there right now, made a stop in Bethlehem this past week at the Levitt Pavilion. The show is part of the “Let’s Get Physical Tour” and directly follows a busy weekend at the Firefly Festival in Delaware, not to mention the fact that this show was part of Artsquest new “Summer Concert Series presented by Yuengling.”
A Monday night show can sometimes be a risky booking but it paid off well with easily close to 2,000 fans coming out to spend a beautiful summer evening with their favorite band. The Levitt Pavilion is set up in such a way that the show feels very intimate; the stage is a little lower to the ground, it has a very interesting architectural design, and even a crowd of that size doesn’t feel overbearing just due to the shape of the surrounding area. The Artsquest campus really provides a unique backdrop for concerts with the rustic and decaying Steel Stacks in the background mixed with all of the new and modern architecture in the foreground. When the sun sets and the night lighting turns on the view is stunning, especially from a distance.
This large tour for Tegan and Sara comes off the success of their most recent album release “Heartthrob” which helped expand the band’s audience tenfold and exposed their music to those who might not have come across it otherwise. I don’t want to call it a mainstream album because it was nothing of the sort, the album was just a fantastic record from top to bottom and it got the attention that it deserved. Statistics have the album selling just over 165,000 in the United States alone which is no small feat these days when most people only care about a single or two. “Heartthrob” was of course going to be the album that many fans in the crowd would know the best but that doesn’t mean that there weren’t lots of older fans in the crowd as well.
After two great sets from the openers Gold & Youth and My Midnight Heart it was time for Tegan and Sara to hit the stage and they did though around 9:20 or so that evening. It was a windy summer night and the duo emerged wearing outfits to fit that weather, jackets and long sleeves. The crowd never really got impacted by the cool wind because they were packed so closely together but the instant you walked away from the mass of the people you could certainly feel that is was cool for a June night.
The show started with “Goodbye, Goodbye,” a song from the band’s most recent album “Heartthrob.” It became very clear within the first few minutes of the show that the hype leading up to this show of it being one of the biggest in the Lehigh Valley this summer was nothing but truth. By the time “I’m Not Your Hero” came on in the middle of the set everyone in the crowd was dancing to the beat and swaying with the cascading flashing lights that were beaming from the stage across the Artsquest field.
Tegan and Sara Quin split the vocal duties pretty evenly, sometimes the entire song features Tegan or vice versa featuring only Sara singing the choruses but their voices blend so well together it is hard to believe. What is also hard to believe is just how much material the duo have to choose from for their live sets. All night fans were yelling out song titles from all albums of their career and at one point Tegan even addressed the requests saying that they play what they feel is their best setlist and that they would love to play some of the songs being asked but they have actually forgotten some of them.
Regardless of the shouted requests the setlist was really fantastically paced and laid out. Both Tegan and Sara had plenty of intimate talking time with the crowd in between songs, even talking for multiple minutes at on point about their AMA on Reddit earlier that day. They even took a question from a fan who shouted out at that point that he didn’t get his question answered earlier. The intimacy of the show was certainly something unique, a lot of bands talk in between songs but this was like you were having a conversation with them and the crowd really enjoyed that.
Tegan and Sara are for lack of better words ridiculously talented performers but they aren’t arrogant about it at all. They make everything they do seem effortless and are very quick to point out that their fans are the only reason they are able to do what they love to do every night. I lost track of how many times they thanked the crowd and all their fans that night but you could really tell that they genuinely felt connected with their audience in Bethlehem that night. They even told a story of how fantastic it is just to tour and come to new places like Bethlehem to play for their fans. They played well into the night with a 21 song setlist that was very heavily loaded with songs from “Heartthrob” but also had plenty of older tracks for fans who have been following their career since the beginning. The setlist for the “Let’s Make Things Physical Tour” was as follows :
6-23 : Bethlehem PA
I Couldn’t Be Your Friend
Back In Your Head
Walking With a Ghost
Monday Monday Monday
I Know I Know I Know
I’m Not Your Hero
I Was A Fool
Now I’m All Messed Up
Shock To Your System
How Come You Don’t Want Me
Drove Me Wild
Call It Off
Dark Come Soon
Let My Love Open The Door
Artsquest surprised a fair amount of people when they booked this show and Tegan and Sara surprised even more with the phenomenal performance they put on that evening. I hope that on their next tours will see the duo coming back through the Lehigh Valley area because it is clear they certainly have a pretty big following in the area, I also hope that this “Summer Concert Series” becomes bigger and bigger each year. Who knows maybe one day it will be as big as Musikfest is locally? Tough to say but what I can say is that they delivered for this summer because Tegan and Sara put on what will go down as one of the best shows of 2014 in the Lehigh Valley, maybe even all of Eastern Pennsylvania. The “Let’s Make Things Physical” tour is still going on for a bit longer so try to get out to a date if you can, the travel expenses and ticket price will be well worth the fantastic show you will get in return.
Be sure to check out our exclusive photo gallery of Tegan and Sara provided by Matt Christine Photography :