Tennis has been carving out their own place in the crowded indie music world for some time. Resulting in sold out shows across the country, including Tuesday night’s show at Parish.
Kuroma opened, a decent appetizer with a bit of bite. Starting their set with “20th Centuries,” a track off their new album Kuromarama, the band fit the mellow vibe of Tennis. The first few songs left much to be desired, lacking any real emotion; just pleasant pop rock songs to politely bop to. Lead singer Hank Sullivant’s sparkly 70s rocker jacket provided the psychedelic aesthetic, but there was nothing coming from the music.
Towards the end of their set, they added some oomph. When they were playing the breakdowns and interludes, they sounded their best. They just rocked out, Sullivant showing off his guitar skills, and the crowd responded to it. For a set that was only 30 minutes, they spent most of it seemingly warming up.
On the flip side, Tennis didn’t waste any time. Also kicking off their set with a song from their new album, “Never Work For Free” set the tone for the night. While Ritual in Repeat isn’t exactly a departure for the band, it does have a deeper more mature sound. You could hear it in Alaina Moore’s voice on “Dimming Light,” a track with more of a R&B feel, off their Small Sound EP. As she sang “is it ever enough to know what you’re lookin’ for,” you could hear the experience in her voice.
They breezed through a few tracks from the new album, with Moore stepping out from behind the keyboard to get the crowd to move closer for “Solar on the Rise.” The song with it’s driving to the beach sound, is an example of what Tennis does so well; make the music of a bygone era sound refreshing.
After “Needle and a Knife,” one of the more popular tracks from the new album, they took a break from the new stuff. “How amazing it is to hear you guys singing along word for word to our new songs,” Moore addressed the crowd. She mentioned how she didn’t know if they’d ever have another big song like “Marathon,” as she introduced the track from their debut album Cape Dory.
Of course it got a big reaction from the crowd, but when Patrick Riley started playing the first notes of “Mean Streets,” the crowd reacted immediately. The slightly sultry song is clearly a fan favorite from the Small Sound EP. One of those songs that you find yourself listening to over and over. The audience had the same reaction to “It All Fees the Same,” from the band’s second album Young & Old.
As they played “I’m Callin,” you wonder what else this band can do; excited to hear what they will put out next. The disco leaning track has a hint of Michael Jackson and a bit of Gossip. They know how to incorporate genres into their sound without compromising what makes them them.
Switching up the mood, they went into “Waterbirds” from the debut album. Her eyes closed and body rolling, you could tell this track meant something to Moore. She sang the song with a touch of lament, perhaps a longing to go back to a particular moment.
Changing the mood back in a way, they ended their set with “Origins,” another fan favorite from Young & Old. While “Marathon” put them on the map, it is songs like “Origins” that really describe the Tennis sound; light, sweet and nostalgic. They are a band that must been seen live to fully grasp.
A short eclectic show, the band came back for one encore. Except they came back without the backing band, just the husband and wife duo. “This one is really special to me…tonight we’re going to do something special, we’re gonna play the demo version,” Moore announced. She dedicated “Bad Girls” to Jim Eno, the drummer for Spoon who helped produce the track.
The crowd didn’t seem to mind the stripped down version. And as they sang along, you could tell that it was a special song for them too.