Monday, June 27, 2016

The 2016 Hilton Concert Series: Tegan and Sara

            In 2015, Hilton partnered with Live Nation to bring their Hilton hHonors loyalty club members unforgettable, once-in-a-lifetime experiences. The 2016 Hilton Concert Series kicked off in February and the fourth event, an exclusive concert with Canadian indie-pop duo Tegan and Sara, was held at Hilton Toronto on Saturday night. Hilton HHonors members and guests were treated to the full VIP experience from the moment they arrived. After confirming their name on the guest list, guests were handed wristbands and laminates as they descended an escalator into the club-like atmosphere of the private cocktail reception. The room was buzzing as people enjoyed complimentary food and drinks, a red carpet photo op, and music by a live DJ. However, it quickly cleared out when opening act Jr. Jr. took the stage shortly after 8 pm.
The stage was set up in one of the adjacent conference rooms, which had been converted into an intimate concert venue for the evening. There were even two large screens on either side of the stage broadcasting the performance, although there wasn't a bad view from anywhere in the room. However, the sound left a lot to be desired. As I entered the room from the back, multi-instrumentalist and singer Joshua Epsteins vocals were all but drowned out by the heavy lows of the bass and kick drum. The crowd of fans that stood between myself and the speakers, may have also been a factor, because the sound seemed to improve as I made my way closer to the stage.

Photo by: Danielle Burton
            Jr. Jr. (FKA Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.) is a band from Detroit, Michigan, formed in 2009 by Joshua Epstein and Daniel Zott. Their set consisted of mostly mellow indie-pop with a few upbeat tunes that kept the crowd interested and was a great complement to the headliner, Tegan and Sara. They played for about an hour and occasionally took breaks to talk and engage the crowd, trying hard to build up the excitement and maybe get a little more dancing going on. The audiences hearts were won when Joshua lamented that they rarely get a chance to play in Canada and declared Toronto a more sophisticated New York except maybe cleaner. The highlights came near the end of their set, as they did a lovely cover of the Beach Boys God Only Knows and closed with their most popular single Gone a summery pop song with a catchy beat and a whistling hook that was released last July. During their second-last song, Daniel jumped into the crowd making one final attempt to pump up the audience for Tegan and Sara. During the intermission, I spotted him in the main hall taking photos with fans, which solidified the feeling of being at an exclusive VIP event.

Photo by: Danielle Burton
Photo by: Danielle Burton
            Tegan and Sara took the stage just after 9:30 pm and were met with screams and applause from the room full of excited fans. They opened with Boyfriend, the lead single from their latest album Love You To Death released on June 3, 2016 on Neil Youngs label Vapor. This was met with even more screams and applause and immediately followed by a throwback all the way to 2004, as the duo played Walking With A Ghost. This was a personal highlight for me, as it was the song which introduced me to Tegan and Sara when it was covered by The White Stripes and released on their EP of the same name. They continued with a variety of songs spanning their eight studio albums and twenty year long career, stopping in between to talk to the crowd, joke and tell stories. They really seemed to enjoy engaging with their fans and the audience was loving every minute of it, especially since the setting was so intimate. At one point, Tegan was handed a cell phone from someone in the crowd and had a brief conversation with whoever was on the other end, finally telling them Alright, listen, were at a concert so Im gonna have to let you go. This led to a great touring story from Sara, who was quiet during most of the show, about the not-so-nice surprise of getting an outrageous cell phone bill. She even threw in a few jokes and dedicated the next song to her old Motorola Razr, which was pretty funny to anyone old enough to remember the cutting-edge technology of the early millennium.

Photo by: Danielle Burton
            Towards the end of the set, Tegan introduced the backing band, which consisted of Gabrial McNair on keyboards and Brendan Buckley on drums. They sounded great and the two will be joining them for their 2016 world tour in support of Love You To Death. Tegan and Sara, although both play guitar and keyboards, were simply standing front and center with two microphones and lots of room for dancing. To the crowds delight, they played the classic Back In Your Head, which the people standing around me were already chanting for. They closed the night with the hit single Closer, from their last album Heartthrob. There was no encore, but guests were treated to one last surprise as they were handed a free poster for the event before exiting the hotel into a warm, summery Saturday night in Toronto.

Tegan and Sara will be back in Toronto on October 28 at Massey Hall. There are still a few tickets available at

For more information on the 2016 Hilton Concert Series, check out

Article by Danielle Burton, Louder Than That's newest blogger

1 comment:

  1. i like the newest blogger Danielle Burton! lol...anthony