Concert Review: Tennis

By Sam Baker

This is the story of Tennis: boy meets girl while studying philosophy at college in Denver and falls in love. They get married and take a seven month sailing trip down the Eastern Atlantic Seaboard. They write songs and release their debut album Cape Dory on Fat Possum Records in January 2011. Girl and boy find success and love from fans. They release their second album, Young & Old on Valentine’s Day, 2012. They come to Minneapolis and give a captivating show at the Triple Rock on February 23rd. Tennis, made up of a duo of singer/keyboardist Alaina Moore and guitarist/bassist Patrick Riley, have created a unique sound that draws on sixties pop and eighties new wave. They have been described as everything from “yacht rock” to “lo-fi” to “dream-pop.” Although Thursday night was chilly, dark, and full of Minnesotan winter gloom, inside the Triple Rock, Tennis took fans away on a sunny drive down the coast with their dreamy melodies. The duo looked as cool as they sounded, with retro-style faux-wood and pastel keyboard, drums, guitars, and bass. Riley’s look was reminiscent of their seafaring days, as he shyly played guitar, sporting a navy polo and tan boat shoes. Moore was a slightly more confident performer. She showed off seventies velvet and chiffon outfit as she stepped out from behind her keyboard to sing “Deep in the Woods” to dance demurely. Young and Old offers better songwriting and production than Cape Dory, but still retains the excellence of Moore’s honeyed voice and Riley’s upbeat guitar. Fans showed their appreciation for new songs, such as “Petition” and “Origins,” when they showed that already knew the words. Tennis also covered their older songs like “Marathon.” These songs showcased Tennis’ simplistic philosophy on life. In “South Carolina,” Moore sang, “White pine and hemlock all seem to know… The sun is sinking awfully fast/Can we make it last/We can’t move on by looking back/…Carry South Carolina deep in my heart/We’ll make a family in the quiet country/You and me, in simplicity.” This is not an exaggeration of Tennis’ charm, because they really are endearing. However, their music does not lack quality, as it is full of rich harmonies and pure talent. If anything, fans leave the show in a lighthearted daze, jealous when the music high wears off. When the crowd cheered for an encore, Moore peeked from offstage not sure if they should return. Fortunately, they did encore with “Seafarer.” Moore was adorably modest when she said that they wished they could just be texted to know if the fans wanted them back. As for Riley, the only word he said into a mic all night was “thanks” as he bashfully left the stage. For those who want to be enchanted, check out the song “Baltimore,” which will connect fans’ liberal arts experiences to Tennis’, as Moore sings, “Can we get a job, can we get a job?… How is one meant to survive when one is over-qualified?”