I went to Chicago to see an opening act.

I return to longer-form blogging with a new post here on WordPress. Still using Twitter, but some of my thoughts need more than 140 characters.

The date was December 21st, 2012. I’d had it marked on my calendar for months, and certainly not because of that whole Mayan apocalypse hooey-phooey. No, that was the day that Tegan and Sara were set to open for The Killers at UIC Pavilion in Chicago, IL.

I’ll be honest. I wasn’t all that keen to see The Killers. I occasionally enjoy their music, but they’re not a band I’d drive to Chicago to see. I was, however, pretty stoked to see Tegan and Sara for the first time, and this would be my opportunity. I bought tickets the minute they went on sale, planned my trip, and waited.

Let me back up. Most people wouldn’t peg me as a die-hard fan of Tegan and Sara. One does not need to explain their love for a particular band, and I don’t plan on doing that here. This is just my story.

I’ll admit ‘Sainthood’ may have looked strange next to ‘Saturday Night Wrist’ by the Deftones in my Media Player library when I added it (they’ve since been separated by the ‘Saints Row the Third’ soundtrack). That is, it may look strange to anyone but me (and possibly my wife). I have on display in my home office three signed Tegan and Sara posters and the discs from their ‘Get Along’ package, next to Coheed and Cambria’s ‘Year of the Black Rainbow’ and ‘Afterman’ deluxe packages. I’ve also got on my shelves and walls Sara Bareilles’ ‘Careful Confessions’ disc, David Reilly’s posthumous release ‘How Humans Rx’ (only a hundred copies of this one originally printed), a shit-ton of video game advertisements cut from cheap comic books, and the crappy headset from the ‘Saints Row the Third’ special edition. My tastes are varied, to say the least. Still, people seem surprised. “Canadian indie-pop? You? Really?”

Yes, really. Their disbelief isn’t an indication that they don’t like the music of Tegan and Sara, I should point out. They just pigeonholed me into the hardcore heavy-metal fan category because of my tattoos and shaved head and dark disposition. Lesson learned, I suppose.

I first heard Tegan and Sara on our local university’s radio station. They had ‘Hell’ and ‘The Con’ in regular rotation for a while. I looked them up, borrowed a couple CDs from the library, and was hooked. Hooked hard. I bought their entire catalog (I think) and keep their music videos on my hard-drive (along with ‘The Con: The Movie’ and other such documentary-style videos). I watched all their ‘Carpool Confessional’ videos (one featured Sara Bareilles!). Sure, there’s other bands I love as much, but this post is about Tegan and Sara. I’ll get to the rest later.

Chicago from near the parking lot.So the day arrived on the heels of Winter Storm Draco. Why they’d give a winter storm a name that brings to mind a mythical, fire-breathing creature I’ll never know. I hopped in the car and drove up to Chicago, covering in total close to three hundred miles round-trip. After a few close-calls in high-speed traffic, being nickel-and-dimed by the toll collectors (I didn’t really need to take the toll roads, I just erroneously though it would be faster), and paying out the nose for parking, I made it to the UIC Pavilion, which is home to basketball and roller-derby teams on other nights. It was also cold. Very cold, so cold, in fact, I waited in my car until the doors opened. I still had to wait for a half-hour in line to get in once it started moving for GA ticket-holders. But eventually, after a thorough pat-down by an off-duty police officer (allegedly), I made it inside and down to the floor.

And felt a bit out of place. Here I am, a thirty-two year-old man, wearing a Revel and Riot t-shirt, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with college kids, many of whom had never heard of Tegan and Sara, but gladly paid more than $60 to see The Killers. This was a definitely a Killers kind of night, complete with a Killers kind of crowd. Almost no Tegan and Sara merchandise at the booths. Of course, once the show started, none of that mattered to me. They’d tweeted that the band had been a bit under the weather, and it showed, but not much. I’m also a Death Cab for Cutie fan, so seeing Jason McGerr on the drums was an added bonus for the evening (he’d also drummed on ‘The Con’ and ‘Sainthood’). The crowd loved them. Lots of dancing, clapping, cheering. Probably the best opening act The Killers ever had. If they weren’t already Tegan and Sara fans, they are now. I just wished the camera on my phone was better. Should’ve gotten an iPhone.

Tegan and Sara take the stage.

For me, the standout was one of Sara’s songs I’d never heard before and later learned (hopefully correctly) is called ‘Now I’m all Messed Up.’ “Go if you want, I can’t stop you.” Sara blew my freakin’ mind. It’s been stuck in my head ever since, and I can’t wait for the new album. It was also really great to hear ‘Living Room,’ one of my favorites. They closed with ‘Closer,’ said goodnight, and I left the Pavilion.

Yes, I spent five hours in the car, paid more than $60 for a ticket, and stood out in the freezing cold to see an opening act play for thirty minutes. Why’d I leave? I was tired. Getting’ old, I suppose. Also, I have chronic insomnia and hadn’t slept so good the night before, so I wanted to get on the road before it got too late. Besides, I’d seen what I wanted. I must’ve surprised everyone, because the parking lot was blocked off (entrances and exits) with cones. I had to go over the curb to get out. Linkin Park, Funeral for a Friend, and The Dillinger Escape Plan got me home.

Was it worth it? Absolutely. Tegan and Sara will be headlining on the next one I see, though. Maybe right here in Champaign/Urbana? Yeah? Please?

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