Ever since I was young I’ve wanted to go to the Enchantment Under the Sea dance with Lorraine. Minus the cheesy decorations and (heartbreakingly) Lorraine, seeing Tennis live at Bowery Ballroom on March 3, 2012 is about as close as I’ll ever get. Tennis, the husband and wife duo of Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley, make 50s and 60s era girl pop music with R&B and rock influences. Tennis released their debut, Cape Dory in 2011 after an ocean voyage the couple took together and released their sophomore album, Young & Old, in February of 2012.
It was only fitting that Tennis would come on stage under a sea of blue lights which matched the color of the ocean that inspired their debut album. The size of the band doubled for purposes of the tour, with an additional guitarist/keyboardist/tambourinist and drummer, which helped give Tennis a fuller sound live than I was expecting.
The band’s stage presence is not one that immediately blows you away but slowly lures you in with Moore’s sultry vocals and the infectious melodies Riley strums on guitar. It only takes a few songs before you realize that everyone in the audience is dancing…not just by themselves, but with each other. It felt like being at a sock hop with hipsters serving as costume designers. Moore mostly stayed trapped behind her keyboard (eyes closed) during the show while the rest of the group also remained stationary. The only movements were the few songs where the band members switched instruments or during the more special moments when Moore left the synthesizer behind and stood before the audience, belting out luscious melodies while vibrantly dancing, kicking her knees up and tossing her hair around.
The group played a balanced mix of songs from the debut album as well as the new release. They even showcased a new song that they wrote on the road displaying the band’s R&B chops and Riley’s pulsating guitar riff. Like most songs, the theme was one that captures the high school crush, and the hook was no different. You’re the one I’ve been looking for/You’re the one I’ve been waiting for. The new song, like the new album, shows off Tennis’s more aggressive side. While they haven’t lost that innocence that was so prevalent on the first album, Young & Old sounds like a band that is a little wiser, a little older and its insistence on soulful vocals and fuzzier, more prominent guitars translates amazingly well live.
Since I’m still absorbing the new album, the highlights for me were the songs from Cape Dory, notably Long Boat Pass, the saccharine filled and cymbals smashing Baltimore, and the concert singalong, Cape Dory, where the “sha la la” was about 500 people strong. Like the albums, the concert was short and sweet, running about an hour even with the three song encore. To be honest, I went into the show tired, a bit dazed and dreading the band’s 11:00 pm set time. By the end of the show, I felt like I was on a sugar high and I wasn’t the only one either. As I left the show and walked outside, the other concertgoers swarmed the sidewalk, still singing and dancing, refusing to let the good time end.