May 11 • 6M

Rain Day

Sometimes we see stars when things don't work out.

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Tegan and Sara correspond about art, music, life and process
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Well. I’m home from our first week of shows in 2023. Our first show back was in Solvang, California, and we had to postpone due to rain. I don’t think anyone thought it would rain in May! But there we were, playing an outdoor theatre, with no roof, and a lot of rain.

When we arrived in Solvang last Tuesday night, we were told it was going to rain. But everyone was hoping it wouldn’t affect the show.  Rain or shine, the tickets said.  The promoter said.  Everyone said.  

Despite the weather, I was delighted by Solvang.  It’s quaint Danish-themed streets.  The open fire pits at the hotel we were staying in.  The perfect Danish delights I ate for breakfast the following morning.  I want to spend Christmas here, I said a half dozen times in the first hour I was there. 

All week we had been buzzing about the show.  We have a mostly new band and crew, and rehearsals in LA had gone really well.  Like, really well.  We were ready and excited to get back on stage in front of an audience.  My goal this year, like last year, is to have fun on stage.  To enjoy being in a band again. To fall back in love with playing music, being on tour, and being Tegan from Tegan and Sara.  It’s a gift to do what we do; to still have the career we do.  And I want to feel that every chance I get.  I was feeling that. Until the rain.

Adding to my anticipation to play Solvang, was that a few days before we left for Solvang a half dozen people we know texted us an article from the LA Times about an issue taking place in Solvang.  The city council there had denied a request to hang Pride flags.  It was causing quite an uproar. The mayor of Copenhagen even released a statement saying Solvang should stop calling itself the Dutch capital of California.   More than ever, it felt like a great time to be bringing a really gay show somewhere.  We hoped to bring all kinds of people together, in a moment of community and connection, regardless of our differences.  Music is a universal language, a great connector that can be transcendental. On my walk to the outdoor theatre where we were playing in Solvang, I saw tons of pride flags and tons of queers.  We nodded knowingly at each other and smiled big.

Send this to someone Danish!


I felt good as I arrived at the venue.  It’s an open-air amphitheatre with elevated seating, surrounded by green brush and picturesque trees. I ooh-ed with appreciation as I was escorted into the venue by a local crew person who met me at the gate.  The venue had just underwent a massive renovation.  But everyone looked a little stressed.  Rain, everyone kept saying, it’s coming.  The rain started before soundcheck and things started to feel different.  There was no roof or covering for the stage — uncommon for an outdoor venue.  All of our gear was exposed to the elements.  Bright blue tarps were found and quickly splayed over the mountains of electrical devices strewn about the stage.  The lights were hugged in garbage bags.  My stomach churned when our production manager told Sara and me they were holding soundcheck until the rain let up.  Would it let up, I wondered?

It did, slightly,  and we sound-checked.  The flooring of the stage was slick grey laminate.   We were all sliding around.  White towels were spread under our feet and someone offered us ponchos.  I left stage a little worried.  We sing into microphones and hold guitars all flowing with electricity. Behind us, our band was a little stiff, uncomfortable with their exposed gear and bodies.  After soundcheck the team on site pulled us aside, phones in hand, weather apps displayed on their screens. They were worried about a storm that some thought would hit right about the time we were scheduled to walk on stage in a few hours.  The band and crew were increasingly worried about the gear. It was decided they would have to put up a tarp.  The tarp turned out to be a car port on metal poles.  They tried to shove all the gear and our five person band underneath it.  It was tight. Our agent pointed out that it made it impossible to see any of us from a third of the audience.  And what to do about the lights, the slick floor of the stage? What if the wind picked up and blew the carport away?  Liability, sight lines, electrocution.  These words were tossed around quietly as we all smiled and tried to make the best of a worsening situation. 

Backstage we waited for news.  Eventually, it was decided that as there was no way to guarantee a safe show or guarantee audience members would be able to see us we’d have to postpone.  I went out front to say goodbye to Hand Habits; Meg from Hand Habits had driven up from LA and I was devastated to know they’d not be able to play either.  But while I was out front at the gate, the venue opened the doors.  All of a sudden I was in a meet and greet with arriving fans, receiving, and sometimes breaking the news that the show was being postponed due to rain. Not one person complained or was mad.  Everyone was so kind.  We hugged, chatted, took photos and cracked jokes.  I love Tegan and Sara fans. I really do.  Later as I left the venue a new crop of arriving guests saw me walking to the hotel and came over for photos.  After, my agent said, the people who listen to Tegan and Sara are truly the nicest fans I’ve ever experienced.  I felt the same.

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On the rainy, foggy drive back to Los Angeles that night our production manager said he felt sad.  Guilty.  Like he’d let everyone down, even us.  But how could he have fixed the problem? You can’t stop the rain.  It’s not your fault there was no roof, I offered.  He admitted he’d read the comments on our post about the show not going forward.  Never read the comments, I laughed.  But later I did too.  Most were positive. But there’s always the handful of people who say something mean or unfair.  In most cases I get it.  People drive, or fly, get babysitters, and the money is lost.  They can see the rescheduled show, but the cost of travel, or out of pocket expenses, they can’t get those back.  And that’s the risk they took.  We took risks too.  We flew in eleven crew and band, rented two vehicles and gear and made merchandise and drove up to Solvang to play a show we didn’t get to play.  We lost something too.  A lot of somethings, honestly.  But the worst part, we let people down. We didn’t get to do our job.  We didn’t get to be on stage, under the lights, and the stars, singing and laughing and telling stories with the best fans on earth.  

But we’ll be back.  And hopefully it won’t rain.