Tennis and Miniature Tigers at Crescent Ballroom, 12/6/11
UPDATE: For more photos of Tennis, Miniature Tigers, and Gospel Claws click here.
Let's just put it out there: The first time I heard indie boy-girl buzz band Tennis, I absolutely hated them.
For starters, I generally hate chick singers who don't have anything spectacular to offer (though a few of my all-time faves are Victoria Legrand of Beach House and Neko Case). I also hate blondes (I'm a blonde). Suffice it to say, going into the show, Tennis had a few strikes against them, but there was a large part of me that hoped I would be proved wrong. I wanted to be convinced.
The verdict: I'm not convinced. Yep, I still hate Tennis.
After the first song, I felt silly for not knowing much about Miniature Tigers, let alone the band's Phoenix roots. "It's good to be back in Phoenix. This is our hometown," MT frontman Charlie Brand said with an adorable smile.
The all-ages section seemed to be made up largely of Tiger fans, the majority knowing lyrics to songs and dancing their innocent little hearts out. We are told that their third song, "Female Doctor," is from their new album, Mia Pharaoh, set for release next spring.
The dudes have a genuine good time on stage: They laugh, joke with each other, and have a natural interaction with the crowd.
"All right, we have two more songs," [the crowd boos] "after that, Tennis will be playing. And after that, we'll be playing tennis in the parking lot -- table tennis," bassist Brandon Lee chimes in. To which Brand replies: "Good save."
Closing their set was a song titled "Mansion of Misery," with lyrics about "being trapped in this negative vibe." For the audience, it was the exact opposite.
That was, until Tennis took the stage, anyway. From start to finish, Colorado-based husband-and-wife duo Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley lacked excitement and rarely interacted with the audience. I'm pretty sure the only words spoken from Moore's mouth were "thank you," and, yes, her talking voice is just as high-pitched and annoying as her singing voice. The drummer smiled a few times, but he also looked pretty stoned.
At best, "Cape Dory" showcased Moore's vocals and the band's endearing lo-fi indie surf sound. But mostly, her "ooohwhaaoohwaa" lyrics just added to her ability to move and sound like a stiff seagull.
The good news about Tennis is their live sound is identical to what I've heard (over)played on satellite radio stations. The bad news is their songs are hard to differentiate, each sounding exactly like the next.
This could be why I noticed the crowd diminishing toward the end of their set, especially in what was once the high-energy all-ages section during Miniature Tigers' performance. Maybe the youngins had a curfew to make or maybe Phoenix has found a new generation of music lovers who actually know their shit.
During the last encore song, Moore's vocals got deeper. And for that, we "thank you," Alaina Moore.
Last Night: Tennis and Miniature Tigers at Crescent Ballroom
The Crowd: Young faces rocking bangs and glasses and plenty of jaded 20-somethings.
Random Notebook Dump: Moore reminds me of a high school cheerleader turned "indie rocker" after visiting Brooklyn once.
Overheard: (From a few chicks leaving the show early, "I mean, it's not that I don't like Tennis." (uh-huh)
Tennis Set List:
Long Boat Pass
Take Me Somewhere
Never to Part
Deep in the Woods
It All Feels the Same (hmm, fitting)
My Better Self