Live Review: Tegan & Sara, Lupa J

27 July 2016 | 6:59 pm | Stephanie Liew

"Sara, stepping into the spotlight, waxes lyrical for an extended amount of time on her cats."

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Lupa J (real name Imogen Jones, aged 18) alternates between plucking, tapping and bowing her violin and furiously working her sample pad, flanked by a drum pad player and a violinist/back-up singer.

Once you get passed the drums being that bit too loud, and stop being distracted by the admirably awkward jerkiness of Jones' dance moves, you settle into their emo-electro pastiche. Take a punt at their influences and that's what you'll find listed under their 'sounds like' section on triple j Unearthed: Grimes, Portishead, Massive Attack, Sarah Blasko. Other comparisons: if Lana Del Rey grew up on a combo of industrial rock and classical music; a less urban Banks; How Soon Is Now wearing a 'The Future Is Female' T-shirt. Jones' classical training shines through in the interesting decisions in her songwriting: the playing with form, syncopation, changing time signatures. And while Lupa J's set could be more consistent, the young trio have enough spunk, style and confidence to hold your attention; there's so much potential here.

"Well, hi! Or should I say, 'G'day'?" says Tegan Quin. Tegan & Sara kick off with an acoustic version of old fave Call It Off. For any long-time fan, this feels like a homecoming moment. It's hard to say, however, whether it's the twins' music or their razor sharp banter that gives us more life. "Is it Sunday or Monday?" says Tegan. "Doesn't matter!" Apparently Australians get "fucking unhinged" any day of the week. They note that Aussies are on their phones less than their fans in other countries… perhaps because our internet's "a bit shit".

A triple whammy is next: Now I'm All Messed Up followed by Back In Your Head then Goodbye, Goodbye. A drummer and keyboardist have come on stage by this point, where they remain until the set's over. There's a couple more Heartthrob bangers before T&S explain that this show will be a mixed bag of older songs from various albums; although newie Love You To Death's U-turn, Stop Desire, Boyfriend and the exquisite keys-only 100x get an airing. They reveal they'll be back in March to do the album tour proper.

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Tegan And Sara's vocals and harmonies seem to only get better with each tour. It's been three years since their last visit — "Last time we were here there was Blockbuster [Video]." We get wildly modernised, electro-pop versions of Nineteen, Walking With A Ghost and Living Room. Sara, stepping into the spotlight, waxes lyrical for an extended amount of time on her cats, explaining why they're superior to children, admitting she tries to get more likes with photos of them on Instagram than Tegan's selfies get, ultimately coming to her main point: she can post a photo of anything on Insta — for example, her cats — and inevitably someone will respond: "I liked it better when you played guitar." Sara, really gaining steam now, elaborates on why guitars are exhausting — they're always out of tune, they're a pain to play when you have bosoms. Tegan rags on Sara, saying it's like she's doing her first comedy set. Pretty sure most of the audience would pay to see the Quins do stand-up, to be honest.

Closer ends the set, and the room erupts. Tegan And Sara give away their encore by telling us it'll be all acoustic, for the six-stringed instrument fans. Following the haunting Dark Come Soon and riveting The Con, the twins chat briefly about LGBTQ issues, delivering on a promise they made at the start of the set. Tegan says we look like a bunch of alternative and open-minded people, and Sara interjects, "She means you look gay." The audience loves it. To perfectly cap off the night is Where Does The Good Go, complete with an audience-only chorus. Apparently this alternative, open-minded crowd can carry a tune pretty damn well, too.