Live Review: Tennis @ Vogue Theatre, Vancouver – April 20th 2023 © Lia Hansen

Live Review: Tennis @ Vogue Theatre, Vancouver – April 20th 2023

Long-time fans of Tennis will be able to recall the band’s various phases over the years. Constantly metamorphosing, the Denver-based husband and wife duo’s creative direction is wholly unpredictable but reliably charming. Rising to fame in 2011, following the release of their debut studio album, Cape Dory, their most recent foray into self-produced pop is reflective, romantic and existentially aware.

Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley float on stage, ponderously waif-like, appearing to have stepped straight off the cover of a folklore storybook onto the stage of the Vogue Theatre. Halfway through touring their sixth studio album, Pollen, the band opens with the record’s titular song, ‘Let’s Make a Mistake Tonight.’

From the get go Moore’s quivering vocals wash over the audience like the cool breeze of a conditioning unit on a sweltering summer’s day. The soothing effect of her voice assuages the anxieties of all in attendance. Joined on stage by guitarist and drummer, Tennis serve up blissful synth pop that compels you to throw your  head back, acting like the main character in the “emotional breakthrough on a dancefloor” scene of an indie rom com. One glance around the venue confirms it – every ticket holder is fully immersed in their very own music video fantasy.

Tennis performing at The Vogue Theatre, Vancouver on April 20th 2023 © Lia Hansen

Psychedelic light design and simplistic staging bolstering their ethereal on-stage presence, this new iteration of Tennis is reminiscent of indie/art pop acts Robyn, Chvrches and London Grammar. Regardless of comparison, the band’s Vancouver fans are hungrily consuming their latest creative transfiguration. There are some obvious favourites from the new album. Despite only dropping two months earlier, the crowd knowingly mouths along to ‘Forbidden Doors’ and ‘One Night with the Valet’, as well as old favourite, ‘Runner.’

Moore’s decision to leave her spot behind the piano, advancing to centre stage, is met with yelps of joy from in the front row. “There’s a great energy in here tonight,” she muses wistfully, searching for further connection by locking eyes with giddy members of the front row.

Whipping out her tambourine, things ramp up a gear – as much as low-key, softcore dream-pop can be ramped. The synchronous movement of Riley, earnestly bobbing up and down on his toes as he fleshes out the beat, as Moore shimmies her shoulders, is joyous. There’s something very pure and earnest about the entire performance. Moore and Riley are happy to be here, happy to be sharing the fruits of their labour with a crowd of like minded sentients. Stealing glances at one another from across the stage, it’s abundantly clear that, over a decade later, these two are every bit as in love with making music as they are with each other.

Photos © Lia Hansen

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