Coming Full Circle with Tennis at the Horseshoe Tavern
Photo Credits: Russell Canceran
The last time I saw indie-pop duo Tennis, I was piss drunk and my friend literally fainted at the end of their set. It was May 14, 2014, at the now-defunct Toronto venue Kool Haus. The duo was opening for HAIM, and their performance remains one that will stick with me for years to come. The soothing and almost hypnotic voice of Alaina Moore, mixed with the clever piano and guitar-heavy instrumental arrangements that make up the band’s distinct ’60s and ’70s-inspired sound, had me dazed. As I drunkenly typed down any notable lyrics on my phone for songs I later discovered were “Petition” and “Origins,” my friend began to pass out. I had to drag him out of the front of the audience to the side of the venue. He eventually recovered and we both discovered a band that we would grow to love.
Three years later, the band has sailed the Pacific and released two albums: the highly acclaimed Ritual In Repeat (2014) and the just released Yours Conditionally (2017). Three years later, I have gotten into music journalism. Three years is a long time, but Tennis still gives me the same chills I experienced the first time around.
The band started their set off with their melodic new single “In The Morning I’ll Be Better,” and then quickly got the crowd going by following up with the upbeat “Never Work Free.” The ability of the band to lull the audience with a romantic love ballad and then immediately getting the audience singing and bouncing along to their next song makes seeing the band live a very special affair. Having introduced two new touring band members, it did not seem like the band missed a single beat. Although Alaina’s nimble voice often takes the spotlight, watching Patrick’s seamless interplay between guitar riffs to smooth piano progressions is another pleasure to behold.
The band played a lot of songs off their latest album, with the highlights being the tracks “Ladies Don’t Play Guitar,” “My Emotions are Blinding,” and a tender song about the duo’s marriage, “Matrimony.” But older fans were not left hanging, as the band played classics such as “Marathon,” “Origins” and “I’m Callin’.” The pair have really come into their own and created a distinct sound that is most rewarding when experienced live. The show ended with a much warranted encore performance and a sweet performance of “Bad Girls” in dedication to their tour’s opening act, Overcoats.
Seeing Tennis again did not disappoint, and definitely brought back fond memories of my first time seeing them life. Of course, not having a friend faint on me this time around means I got to finally really experience the duo’s magic uninterrupted.