Sing Out Sisters

Tegan and Sara do want people to like them, but for the right reasons, which, typically, they articulate in sentences that run over each other like runts in a litter. ''We did an interview the other day,'' Tegan begins. ''The guy said that when he saw Avril Lavigne happening, he thought, Tegan and Sara are finally going to be huge. Finally, there's this music with a person behind it, with an open mind, and being bratty, and dressing how you want. He was like, 'Do you think you're going to be huge?' And we were like, 'We don't care!'''

''If we wanted to sell tons of records and work the image thing,'' she continues, ''we could make it work. We could sell a million records. We could...''

''But what we're doing,'' says Sara, ''what we're already in the middle of, what we've already established, is a career. We've been doing this long enough at a grassroots level that...''

''We don't have to blow up,'' Tegan jumps in. ''If we keep climbing...''

''...naturally...'' adds Sara.

''...we will get to the top.''

Whatever the top may be in their collective mind, Tegan and Sara are off to a decent start. So far, they've appeared on Letterman and several Canadian talk shows. They've toured the States and/or Europe with Neil Young, Rufus Wainwright, Joan Osborne, and, oddly enough, both Ryan and Bryan Adams. Of all, Ryan Adams, who personally requested that the twin Quins open for him on his most recent tour (and, of course, developed a crush on Sara), was the most ''cool.'' ''He treated us like equals,'' says Tegan. ''Whereas with some of the tours there was certainly no, like, 'Hey Neil!' You know, busting in [like] 'Can I borrow a pair of your socks?'''

Tonight, the girls play Toronto's Lee's Palace, one of the last remaining stops on their own Born in the Eighties Tour. The room is packed, and, yes, there are a bunch of lesbians in the front row. Tegan and Sara's personal ''superfans'' -- the girls from the jeep -- are ricocheting off the walls in anticipation. ''They let us hang out at sound checks,'' gushes a 21-year-old college student with a boyish haircut who, along with her three friends, has been skipping school to catch the bulk of the tour. ''It's like we're part of the team.''

Tegan and Sara open the show with the ear-grabbing guitar stabs of ''Time Running,'' and the boys enjoy it as much as the girls. The twins and their band -- Chris Carlson, the bassist, and Rob Chursinoff, the drummer -- rip through a couple more songs before Sara finally speaks up. With blue stage lights playing on her small frame and Elven features, she looks almost Tolkien-esque, a punk-rock Arwen.

''I was in Halifax,'' she begins, peeking out from under her blackened bangs. ''I think I picked up some sort of virus in Halifax and it's in my mouth.'' The audience giggles, a little uncomfortably. ''But I don't think it's contagious because I make out with everyone in the band and no one else has it.''

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