Tennis Brightens Up Winter

Vortex Music Magazine

Sometimes when a band’s sound develops, they lose touch of their roots. This was not the case with Tennis at the Wonder Ballroom on January 16. Photos by Christina Bargel

Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley of Tennis—click to see more photos by Christina BargelAlaina Moore and Patrick Riley of Tennis—click to see more photos by Christina Bargel

Husband-and-wife duo Patrick Riley and Alaina Moore were back in Portland last week after a failed (and ultimately rescheduled) attempt in October. With a full supporting band, Tennis was ready with music from their latest album, the ‘80s pop-inspired Ritual In Repeat. But for the fans who fell in love with the duo’s original lo-fi, doo-wopped sound—they were not let down.

Riley’s reverbed guitar picks and Moore’s endearingly dry delivery on the opening song “Solar on the Rise” proved that their new material, when played live, tends to sound less engineered than on the recordings. They still have an appealing rock and roll influence. And they still sound like they come from a forgotten 1950s beach.

The pop metamorphosis was still there, such as on “I’m Callin’” and the catchy single “Never Work For Free” (listen below); however, the ‘80s feeling was never overly saturated, nor did it ever feel too drenched in the lovey-dovey sappiness that many musical couples rely on.

Riley faced away from Moore for the first half of the show. His long hair hung over his face as he shied away, leaning over his guitar at center stage. It was like a nervous boy ignoring a girl that he likes so he doesn’t seem anxious. But during Moore’s ballad “Origins,” Riley couldn’t help but turn to her with a sincere admiration that is rarely seen onstage.

It’s hard to say precisely how Tennis spread their joy on Friday night. A sometimes melancholy vocal delivery and probably just four smiles throughout the entire performance usually would not leave the audience feeling bright. Maybe it’s because Tennis portrays the honesty that love doesn’t have to be plastic-happy to be strong. Maybe it’s because their sound is not lonely, but a shared feeling of lost reminiscence. Maybe it’s just what drizzly Portland needed.

Set List:
Solar on the Rise
Needle and a Knife
South Carolina
Mean Streets
Timothy
100 Lovers
Marathon
Origins
Petition
Deep in the Woods
Never Work For Free
I’m Callin’
It All Feels The Same
My Better Self

Encore
Bad Girls

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