Tennis at Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto – Concert review and photos

March 1, 2012

Tennis at the Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto, 29 February 2012 - photo Nathan Blagdon, Music Vice
The Gig: Tennis w/ Hospitality
Where: The Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto
When: 29 February 2012
In One Word: Summertime

Last night, the sold-out crowd at the Horseshoe Tavern, basked in the sun-shiney, nostalgic sounds of the all-too-cute husband-wife group Tennis. They are currently touring in promotion of their sophomore album Young & Old.

If you’re familiar with Tennis, you’re probably familiar with their backstory. After an 8-month sailing voyage along the Atlantic coastline, Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley, of land-locked Denver, were compelled to relive their experiences through music, with Moore on keyboard and Riley on guitar. Riley has said they began writing just as a shared hobby. But the resulting debut album Cape Dory (2011), was infectiously romantic to Edward Sharpe proportions. The new indie-pop group gained overnight online attention.

With fuzzy AM radio aesthetics, it was an album of simply cheerful and catchy songs, full of oos and ahhs. While the wave of beach-pop was gaining momentum, Tennis did a wonderful job of taking listeners past the break and out to dreamlike, open waters; but beyond that, Cape Dory didn’t take us much further. Though fresh at its onset, by the end of the 30-minute album, it already seemed to be getting stale.

The recently released Young and Old is an improvement in that regard. With The Black Keys’ drummer Patrick Carney producing, the instruments are more distinct. On the album’s first single, “Origins,” Riley’s guitar even sounds a little more Dan Auerbach than it has in the past. The changes in production certainly helped to create more variation in the mood of each song, but like Cape Dory, the album still fails to leave much of an emotional impression. This is partly because the lyrics, when you can make them out through the fuzz, are somewhat forgettable.

Last night, however, was proof that some of the words are being retained. An impressive portion of the crowd could be heard singing along to the group’s first and most widely circulated single, “Marathon,” especially during the “ooo-oo, ooo-oo” chorus (I guess those aren’t really words).

Indeed it was a fun show. I, like many fans, found myself swaying in the breeze of the Tennis tunes, with a smile on my face. At one point I also found myself saying, “I could have sworn they played this song already.”

Still, I’m excited to see what the future holds for Moore and Riley. There will eventually be a high-water mark of summertime throwbacks in the indie scene, and when the water recedes, Tennis may be too one-dimensional to sustain popularity. That being said, I wouldn’t be surprised if, on a whim, the couple created an independent Rom-Com about one of their adorable adventures. It would likely be a hit.

© Nathan Blagdon, Music Vice

Photos of Tennis and Hospitality in at Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto:

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Nathan Luke Blagdon photography

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