Tennis descended upon San Francisco’s classic Great American Music Hall with an animated sold out crowd in tow. Singer Alaina Moore stood behind her keyboard on one side of the stage, donning a black deep V-neck top with laced edges, singing songs off of Tennis’ recently released 3rd LP, Ritual In Repeat. Her husband and guitarist Patrick Riley commanded the other side of the stage, flanked by a drummer and bass player, ripping through riffs reminiscent of Dick Dale and just generally wowing the crowd throughout the night.
Even before opening track “Solar On The Rise” began, the crowd was in a frenzy. “Wow…we haven’t even played anything yet!” An elated Moore said as they settled onto the stage to massive applause. Moore’s vocals were dialed in from the get-go and she carefully chose a few instances to come out from behind the keys to own the center of the stage. You got the feeling that pretty much everything about their live set was dialed-in this time around, where at a past show at The Independent, when they were touring debut LP Cape Dory, this wasn’t the case. There was an excitement and exuberance from Moore that was present from starts to finish.
“Petition” off of 2nd LP Origins was a crowd pleaser, as was the Ritual In Repeat’s “Never Work For Free.” The new material was the most well-received and the crowd was well versed on the new record. On “Night Vision,” Reilly wowed with his twangy guitar riffs, that while reflect their signature doo-wop/pop, also evolve into dexterous solos. He managed to find his moments to shine, even with Moore’s lovely vocals being the welcome center of attention.
Moore talked with the crowd just before going into “I’m Calling,” with the proclamation that “I wrote this next song..I’m serious…I wrote in a dream…that’s why the lyrics mean absolutely nothing.” It was a refreshing playfulness from a band that I’ve come to know as a stoic and methodical one. But this time around there was an element of fun infused into Tennis’ set.
The encore opened with “Bad Girls” and Moore explained that “We’re gonna play this last one exactly the way we wrote it.” As it came to a close, the crowd erupted and a nearby bro yelled “That was your best sooong!” Bros and teenagers alike were floored at the all ages event and Tennis gave the crowd what they came for: A polished set from a group that’s starting to settle into early stardom.
Portland’s Pure Bathing Culture churned out a solid opening set with songs from 2012’s self-titled debut and 2013’s Moon Tides. I had spent the afternoon relaxing peacefully with their discography and will be looking forward to their 3rd release in 2015 on Partisan Records.