Callowhill Street’s Underground Arts was filled to capacity March 18 for the indie surf pop band Tennis. Comprised of indie rock’s best husband-wife duo, Patrick Riley (guitar) and Alaina Moore (vocals, keyboards), Tennis put on a great show filled with lots of great tunes from their latest album, “Yours Conditionally.”
People were lined up all the way to the back of the venue by the time the opening band, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, took the stage. These Aussies from Melbourne flew straight from SXSW in Austin, Texas, to Philly to join Tennis for a string of East Coast dates.
With three guitarists all sharing singing duties, often during the same song, RBCF had a vibe unlike most indie bands. Their sound borrowed from a wide swath of artists, including the Strokes, the Smiths and maybe even a little Real Estate to boot. These guys from Down Under may well be on the come up. Be sure to check out their latest EP “French Press,” especially the titular track.
Tennis came out to a roar of applause that seemed to catch the band by surprise. Consider their last show was at the intimate MilkBoy back in 2015. Moore remarked that this was the first time Tennis has sold out Underground Arts, and I can vouch after seeing the same venue about half-filled when they came through in 2014.
Tennis kicked off their set with two tracks from “Yours Conditionally,” “In the Morning I’ll Be Better” and “Fields of Blue.” Although the album had only been out a couple of weeks, fans were already belting out the lyrics with gusto. It’s a testament to the strength of the fan base Tennis has built. They’ve come a long way since releasing their debut “Cape Dory” in 2011. “Matrimony” and “Modern Woman,” also from the new album, were the standout tracks of the night for me.
Of course it wasn’t just the new songs that sounded great, tracks from all three of Tennis’ previous albums delighted the sold-out crowd. “Needle and a Knife” had this great jam out at the end. “I’m Callin’” remains the slinkiest jammy jam in Tennis’ arsenal.
Boy does that song really move, let me tell you.
“Origins” has long been my favorite Tennis track and it did not fail to deliver as the penultimate song of the night. I always thought it would be the band’s best closing track but when the opening notes of “It All Feels the Same” rang out, I knew I was wrong. By god, the girls in the front row were screaming like the Beatles had come on stage or something.
Coming back for a two song encore, Tennis closed the night with a high note. The bass and drum players left the stage so that Moore and Riley could play a beautiful duet of “Bad Girls.” The way Riley and Moore look so lovingly at each other as they perform is really touching. You see so many bands have strife and turmoil but here is a band whose central members are married and seem stronger than ever. It’s beautiful. Moore left the stage saying “We won’t forget this night” and I doubt many others from the sold-out crowd will either.