Tegan and Sara Bring Music and Community to the Fillmore

Sara of Tegan and Sara at the Fillmore.

Review by Shae Lake, Photos by Jaida Berkheimer

On a cool Wednesday night, The Fillmore was packed, the air tense with anticipation. The lights had just begun to glow a yellowish blue, and the fog machines made the stage appear almost heavenly. As the large, ice-cream shaped sign at the back of the set began to glow, the stars of the show, Tegan and Sara, came onstage, greeted by cheers and waves. After greeting the audience, the duo played the opening notes for “Stop Desire,” beginning the auditory journey for the evening.

Tegan and Sara stopped in San Francisco on November 16, which was one of their last stops on The Crybaby Tour. Crybaby, Tegan and Sara’s 10th album, was released on October 21, 2022. Five days later, the duo began their tour in Philadelphia, stopping in major cities like New York, Boston, and Los Angeles, before finishing in Vancouver on November 20.

The Canadian duo has been in the indie pop scene for almost 30 years, establishing themselves as talented multi-instrumentalists who have achieved some mainstream success. They are both openly gay musicians who have been pioneers in the music industry and are inspirations to many other queer artists. In 2019, the pair published their memoir, High School, which has recently been adapted into a TV series that was released in October of 2022.

Before Tegan and Sara arrived on The Fillmore’s stage, Tomberlin performed as the opening act. Her soft, folk sound provided a soothing contrast to Tegan and Sara’s more peppy beats. Before leaving the stage, Tomberlin opened up about how thrilling it was opening for musicians who were such an inspiration to her throughout her life as a queer musician.

Although the tour was meant for the Crybaby album, most of the songs on the setlist were from previous albums, like “Back in Your Head,” “The Con,” and “Walking With a Ghost.” However, this did not dampen the audience’s enthusiasm. Longtime fans were singing along to old hits like “Boyfriend,” while also swaying and nodding their heads to new releases like “Yellow” only minutes later.

Although the performances were remarkable, some of the most memorable moments of the show had nothing to do with the music at all. Between songs, Tegan and Sara went out of their way to interact with and entertain the audience. They talked about recent life updates, cracked jokes, and even reminisced about old memories. Even a viewer who isn’t a Tegan and Sara enthusiast could easily feel the passion and joy coming from the stage.

When the final song of the night, “Closer,” began to play, the audience came alive. Blue and purple light bathed the room, bringing a sense of excitement and familiarity. People started to jump to the beat and raise their hands, chanting the lyrics by heart. As Tegan and Sara and the audience sang, there was a sense of community, and that despite the fact the room was full of strangers they all seemed connected. Finally, the lively, dynamic show ended with the iconic line: “All I want to know is, can you come a little closer?”