Tegan and Sara, Northern State

Rialto Theatre, Thursday, Nov. 1

You know the cliché "opposites attract," that in a good relationship, one mate should complement the other? (So if Hillary does take the nomination, is an anti-war white male VP inevitable? Discuss.) On a music bill, this can lead to disastrous results. Over the many major shows going on last week, the U.S. tour featuring the extra-female-friendly folk-pop duo of Tegan and Sara, and the hetero, sarcastic, hip-hop trio of Northern State seemed like the most intriguing.

The three members of Northern State--Spero, Hesta Prynn and Sprout--originally formed the act as a joke in 2000, and soon signed to a major label. Using the same tag-team rhymin', New York City-reference-droppin' and rock-sampling style as the Beastie Boys, they've been quietly building back that buzz they once had. (Incidentally, their free outdoor show I saw at SXSW this year was the highlight of my entire week.)

Those obviously there for Tegan and Sara stood stoic through most of Northern States' set, despite the audible screams in between songs. (Are lesbians just really good ventriloquists?) The State have a live band now, adding new life to older beat-box numbers and allowing them to play the more mature newer songs, like "Better Already" (almost stealing the riff off The Who's "I Can't Explain") and "Away Away" (sounding like a long-lost Bananarama hit, complete with sucrose harmonies).

Crowd interaction was aplenty, complete with winners for Best Mohawk; a Dancing Coozie (?) contest (congrats, MacEnzie!); and Sprout informing the audience her dad had a horse named Tucson. Finally, the crowd got into one of the last numbers, "Sucka Mofo." Co-penned by the Beasties' Ad Rock, you could feel the man-hate as Northern State rapped about Abercrombie-wearin', SUV-drivin', Bush-bumper-sticker-sportin', faux-gangster white boys.

The delicate, multi-instrumentalist identical twins Tegan and Sara played quite a while, especially considering that Sara was not feeling well, but it's no doubt the high-shrieking, enthusiastic army of patrons kept her going. The duo's new release, The Con, got most of the attention, but it was the nonalbum, acoustic-only number, "Walking With a Ghost," that got the biggest response of the night.

Later, Northern State were swamped at their merch table, and I couldn't help but wonder if some audience members were just trying to find out if opposites were going to attract later on.


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