For the Love of Love Songs


By: Chantel Ouellet


It sounds like a millenial punchline, but Tennis front-woman Alaina Moore fainting in the kombucha aisle of a Whole Foods is no joke. Despite this occurrence and the subsequent hospital visit, Alaina and the rest of Tennis still performed as a part of their Tours Conditionally at the Mod Club Theatre. Tennis is composed of husband-and-wife duo Patrick Riley and the aforementioned Alaina Moore.

Quite simply, you can say that together they create lovely love songs. However, saying so would gloss over the themes of friendship, femininity, marriage and feminism that also play a large part in their songbook. Yet we are going to focus on love because it’s the love that exists between the two of them, and also between their fans, that made this show what it was.

Toronto was the third stop on Tennis’ Tours Conditionally, a tour promoting their album Yours Conditionally (2017) and their latest EP We Can Die Happy (2017). Just after their first show, and mere days before the Toronto show, Moore was hospitalized. She toughed it out despite the doctor’s orders of “no more rock and roll, young lady,” and stepped out on stage to a crowd full of excited fans at the Mod Club Theatre. They began with their single off their most recent EP, “No Exit.” It starts with the fitting lyrics, “I’ve got a little bit left, I know that I can give a little bit,” which sums up the evident discomfort Moore was in. Her typically powerful and soulful lyrics were slightly hushed, lacking the energy that has long defined their shows.

Still, Moore didn’t falter as she continued playing crowd favourites such as “My Emotions are Blinding,” “Mean Streets” and “Marathon.” The reciprocal love that exists between the band and its fans is part of the experience of seeing Tennis live. Moore is a woman of mythical proportions in her grace, emotional rawness and her ability to project love. The fans bask in it and in return support the band by memorizing every lyric and singing along religiously. I should know, I’m one of them.

Then there’s the love between Pat and Alaina. Alaina looks at the audience and bares her heart to them. Pat appears to play night after night to Alaina—and especially that night in the Mod Club Theatre. His eyes appeared almost fearful, but also supportive. He watched Alaina restlessly, ready to step in if anything were to happen again. This love is also evident in their storybook love story. Two college kids who met in a philosophy class, they ran off and bought a boat together, sailed away to get married and now perform in a successful indie band together. It sounds like a fanfiction, but that’s their real life.

This idyllic love story acts as the muse for much of their music. Moore and Riley steal glances at each other as they sing songs such as “Matrimony,” “By The Morning I’ll Be Better” and “Never Work For Free.” And if it’s not the love between them it’s a love for the people around them. Moore explained that she wrote “Modern Woman” for a friend from university who she lost touch with. She happily told the audience that they reconnected the week prior and it was like no time passed at all.

Tennis show us in a million different ways that love is important. Love for music, love for friendships, love for partners and just love for the sake of love. How can you not love that?

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