Review: Tennis – Live in Madison, Feb 24, 2012

Opening Bands: Brighton, MA & Surgeons In Heat at the High Noon Saloon in Madison



Calling out pop could use a Dr. Phil. In the past 5 months I’ve reviewed a divorced couple (the Rosebuds), a boyfriend/girlfriend combo (Still Corners) and now a married couple (Tennis). Did I miss a memo about this new brand of ‘family pop’? Fortunately, the Partridge Family and the
Osmonds this is not. Patrick Riley and Alaina Moore, out on tour on the strength of their 2nd and new release ‘Young & Old’, come across as yet another shy, talented, vibrant indie pop band playing bouncy AM style-pop. A dime a dozen groups like this are but are they all as good as Tennis? Absolutely not. Touring as a 4 piece group both Patrick and Alaina eschew charisma and focus hard on providing an endless stream of 3 minute pop tunes. No guitar solos, no impromptu jamming and very little improvisation. And it works.

Talking to the crowd between songs and clearly taking the lead role on stage, Alaina claims the musical personality of Tennis. She occasionally moves away from her keyboard and merges to midstage to dance alone through a couple of fan favorites, ‘My Better Self’ and ‘Petition’. The band share smiles and effortlessly jump from tight tune to tight tune during the 75 minute, 17-song set. Unexpectedly (from their own reaction) Tennis delighted the crowd with ‘Dimming Light’, introduced by Alaina as a new song just written a couple days prior. Complete with a catchy keyboard hook the crowd gave the band the non-verbal approval they were hoping for as several hundred fans made it look like hipster bobblehead doll night to the catchy new tune. Tennis isn’t going to be breaking new indie ground with their new album, or their prior album, or this tour – but they do what they do better than most and that says a lot. In an industry absolutely flooded with bands trying hard to do the same thing Tennis stands a notch above the majority, striving to make it sound just a little bit better than last time. They’ve done that, and given their panache for writing infectious, simple pop songs the next two or three albums should be eagerly anticipated.

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