Concert review: Tennis serves up sparkling dream pop at Off Broadway, Thursday, September 27

Tennis at Off Broadway. Photo by Ben Mudd.

“I don’t know what I’m doing up here,” giggled Tennis‘ Alaina Moore behind a shock of Pantene-commercial hair, after an effusive thank you to old friends and opening act Making Movies.

But it sure didn’t seem that way. Wispy of stature, Moore softly swayed in time to guitarist/husband Patrick Riley’s gentle surf guitar, spreading her pitch-perfect lullaby soprano like butter over the similarly swaying, enraptured, tipsy masses at Off Broadway. This after Tennis had broken into a set of shimmering indie pop, led off by “It All Feels the Same” and a mix of the old (“South Carolina”) the new (a yet-to-be-recorded song) the borrowed (“Guiding Light,” a Television cover) and the blue (“Robin”).

The boys in the band solemnly played their instruments while Moore occasionally addressed the crowd in her meltingly smooth teen-dream croon—a-speaking voice that’s just as pleasing as her singing one, practically made for bedtime story-reading. Everything she says is delivered liltingly, soft but not shy; perfect for the sunny-but-serious dream pop for which the Denver band is (rightfully) becoming well known. Riley’s lo-fi guitar sound, ranging from the twangy (“Vegas”) to the twinkly (“Deep in the Woods”) complements Moore’s sugarcoated soprano and church-choir piano.

The band seemed genuinely happy with their warm reception: “You guys have been awesome spectators, thank you for making our night special.” One lucky lady had “Petition” dedicated to her, prefaced this way by Moore: “This song is for the girl in the bathroom who said she felt like she was dressed for a Taylor Swift concert.” (Better than being dressed for a Lady Gaga concert?)

As Tennis worked its way through most of its latest record, “Young and Old,” neither the crowd nor the band seemed quite ready to quit by curtain draw time. “Is it OK if we just play a few more?” Moore sweetly offered, before drummer James Barone kicked into the jumpy “High Road” before the sound guys could say no. Who could refuse her, anyway?

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