Review: Tennis chills out at Radio Radio 

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click to enlarge Tennis.jpg

Denver indie pop trio Tennis brought their warm, easily enjoyable sound to Radio Radio Monday night in support of their sophomore album Young & Old.

The band's 18-song set was nearly an all encompassing one, as only a handful of songs were omitted from their young discography.

"This is seriously our last song," vocalist Alaina Moore said before performing finale "Cape Dory," the eponymous track from the band's debut album. "It's the last one we know how to play."

The sold out show was filled with fans who sweetly bobbed their heads and danced to the band's brisk melodies, creating a wave of good vibes for all - even the band themselves.

"It's so nice to come to a place like Indianapolis, and play to a full house," Moore said.

Moore, who also plays keyboard, her husband Patrick Riley (guitar), and drummer James Barone perform a simple brand of pop which relies heavily on Moore's easy-going voice and catchy choruses that at times say nothing more than "Oh ooo woah oh." Riley's soft surf rock hooks and Barone's steady back beat ease the quietly propulsive songs from one stop to another.

While on record, Tennis can at times sound brittle, if rather harmonious, on stage they possess a bit more kick in their step, and a pinch more meat to the music. On Cape Dory, "Baltimore" is just another well executed, if hollow, ditty on an album full of well executed, if hollow, ditties. But Monday night the song was morphed into a punchy tune which perfectly complimented the opening song "It All Feels the Same," which was performed at a more meditative pace.

Much of the set was a back-and-forth between new and old material, with both albums being well represented. Where the group's debut was the sound of two star-crossed lovers on their honeymoon (which is exactly what Moore and Riley were at the time) the new songs showed a bit of an unpolished edge, with pseudo-blues riffs popping up on songs like "Origins," the band's latest single.

While the 50 minute set was as pristine as some of the beaches the band sing about, Tennis never peaked, but rather plateaued a third of the way into the set. Stopping short of completely taking the audience on a cruise of their hopelessly romantic dreamscape, Moore and company appeared content to stand around and look like the wearily road-tested youngsters they are - which is understandable given all the heavy lifting a band with such a small sound has had to do over the past year.

As for a band who couldn't lift anything, there was opening act Nerves Jr., a Louisville-based act whose spacious sound was undercut by empty and unintelligible lyrics. It was hard to tell what made front man Cory Wayne so down in the mouth, but maybe some stronger enunciation would get him the help he needs. Then again there is always the option of consuming more of his favorite greenery which was the subject of "Kale," the band's best song for the sole reason of having a pulse. One question though; Is an uptempo tune about a downer of a drug supposed to be ironic? And if so, why is no one laughing? Probably because they can't understand him.

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