We Went To A Show | Tennis at The Biltmore Cabaret

Review Colin Crawford    Photos Nicole Jorgensen

As the chitchat died down in the Biltmore Cabaret, opener Peter Matthew Bauer took the stage in his pinstriped suit. Due to an unfortunate last minute emergency cancellation from Hoops, Bauer made his way to Vancouver on just a few days notice. Nervous but genuine, this solo act warmed the crowd. His 21st century Americana features rhythmic acoustic guitar and simple love songs. The setlist was a mix of new tracks from his upcoming album LP2 and his first record Liberation!. Bauer’s only on-stage mishap was multiple long-winded over-explanations of songs, lyrics and references. While the lack of full band instrumentation was felt throughout the set, his solo performance did lend insight into this deeply personal passion project. In the end, my curiosity was piqued enough to revisit Liberation! and I am very glad to have done so.

Yours Conditionally (Mutually Detrimental Records 2017)

The sun-faded album cover of Tennis’ new record Yours Conditionally poignantly sums up the dynamic of Tennis. Leading lady Alaina Moore confronts the camera with her gaze, while her husband and multi-instrumentalist Patrick Riley stands slightly behind her, quietly looking down. From the outset, Moore confidently challenged the audience to meet her eyes as she serenaded them.

Opening with their loungey single “In the Morning I’ll Be Better”, this band’s tight musicianship and professionalism was palpable and intoxicating. Hearing the new tracks from Yours Conditionally live just a week before their release gave us a sneak peak of the direction Tennis has taken their sound. The production is a poetic juxtaposition; written at sea on a sailing trip and recorded in the heart of the America, the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. Lyrically, Moore delivers a balance of vulnerable love songs, as well as sarcastic feminist anthems such as “My Emotions are Blinding” and “Ladies Don’t Play Guitar”. The liner notes and art book that come with the record lend insight to the intersecting themes and experiences Moore is meditating on: partnership, isolation, devotion and the pursuit of happiness. Prefacing the new song Matrimony with a disclaimer about how it might be too cheesy, Moore shared a story about how her partner Patrick Riley gave her a bad haircut right before their tiny wedding.

From shoegazey tracks on their first album Cape Dory to ‘70s roller-skate funk tracks such as “Needle and a Knife” and “I’m Callin” on Ritual in Repeat, Tennis took the crowd with them through their history as a band. Their stage presence denoted clear confidence in their material be it old or new. From start to finish on a rainy Wednesday night, the Biltmore’s dance floor was full of smiling and swaying Vancouverites.

Thank you to The Biltmore and to Sacks & Co. Music for hosting us!