Real Live Action


w/ Devon Williams

Biltmore Cabaret.; December 13, 2011

by Alec J. Ross

Tennis- Origins

There was love in the air at the Biltmore Cabaret. However, it wasn’t the love I was feeling over a Phillips Blue Buck, nor for the plethora of angel-headed hipsters all frolicking around in their hand-me-down clothes. The love was a direct result of the music being generated by husband-and-wife-driven indie-pop sensations, Tennis.

Opener Devon Williams was decent, but nothing made the audience shut up and listen. Maybe it was because of how uncomfortable Williams looked on stage, or maybe it was that he used up all his energy at the rather enjoyable, and much more intimate free in-store that took place at Zulu Records earlier that day. In any case, most of Williams’ set came from his new album Euphoria. His blend of poppy, sun-bleached songs made for good background music while people mingled and got settled in for the main event.

Tennis began their set with the curtains closed, and came out swinging with the incredibly popular “Seafarer.” The first thing I noticed was that vocalist Alaina Moore looked like an entirely different person without her formerly frizz-tastic hairdo, but her voice is unmistakable. Her control and range was almost too much to handle. This, combined with drummer James Barone’s cymbal-crashing ‘60s pop drumming and the sensational twang of Patrick Riley’s Telecaster, made it impossible not to dance.

There were two highlights of the night. First was the amount of people that showed up on a Tuesday night, driving Moore to say, “Thank you so much. For a weekday, this is phenomenal.” The second highlight was the debut of the new song “Origins,” which saw the singer commanding the crowd front and center with her gorgeous, soulful vocals. The influence that Black Keys drummer Patrick Carney —who co-produced Tennis’ upcoming Young and Old—had on the new tracks is unmistakable. The sound is less pop, more rock ‘n’ roll, and Moore has definitely excelled in her level of confidence. Her light, day-dreaming vocals will always have a place in the band’s sound, but now audiences are also being introduced to the sultry howlings of a soul-revivalist that’ll bring you up off your chair and onto the dance floor. Old Tennis was good, but their new material is captivating and innovative (Riley was playing a custom built six-string equipped with a bass E string).

With the addition of a touring session keyboardist, the now four-piece Tennis are producing a fuller, more complete sound. Tennis is far past heading in the right direction; they have already arrived. After closing with “South Carolina,” the Denver rockers left the stage, and we all went home a little bit more happy believing that love does exists, and that it can tear the shit out of a club on a Tuesday night.