September 27, 2014
Webster Hall, New York City
Review by David Chiu
The music of the Denver-based group Tennis is not so easy to pin down, which makes it all the more interesting and satisfying. It’s certainly contemporary indie music but through a careful listen to Tennis’ sound, one might detect such retro influences as ’50s and ’60s pop, surf, and ’70s soul music. But however you would categorize the sound from the duo of Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley, you would be hard pressed not to be drawn to their elaborate and beautiful tunes that fits within the context of today’s indie music scene.
And the indie audience of mostly 20 and 30 somethings were out in full force Friday night to see Tennis perform at New York’s Webster Hall. For about an hour and change, it was an evening of pop bliss as Moore, Riley and company ran through music from their first three studio albums as well as an EP – the group recently released its latest record Ritual in Repeat. And like that of its records, Tennis offered an eclectic range of its styles from the stage: the disco-y “I’m Callin’”, the stomping rock of “Cured of Youth,” the funky soul of Petition, and the ’50s/’60s retro pop of “Marathon,” which closed the set. In between are some equally strong performances of “Pigeon,” the melodic “Origins,” and a couple of tunes from Ritual in Repeat, including the lovely “This Isn’t My Song.” “It All Feels the Same,” and the driving new single “Never Work For Free.”
As for the band’s performance, Riley and Moore featured prominently in their roles – Riley delivered through his unique bell-like sounding guitar, especially on “Pigeon” and “Bad Girls.” Moore possesses perhaps one of the best voices today and that was on full display last night with her soul and emotive singing along with her keyboard work that is a key part of Tennis’ sound along with Riley’s axe work. Hopefully, Ritual in Repeat will bring Tennis a larger audience that it deserves beyond indie music and press circles. And if the adulation from the crowd at Webster Hall Friday night was any indication, Tennis is on its way of achieving that goal.