Tennis Bumbershoot Review

The following photos of Tennis at the Fountain Lawn Stage are by Erin Lodi

Alaina Moore (Keyboard and Vocalist)

Patrick Riley (Guitar)

James Barone (Drums)

Flipping through the Bumbershoot guide to the artists, this is what you get when you read about Tennis: “After sailing around the world together (no joke!), Patrick Riley and Alaina Moore weren’t done exploring, so they formed a band. The resulting music reflects months spent alone with the sea and each other, tinged with the sweet affection of new lovers. It’s lo-fi pop that’s uncluttered, wide open, and full of discovery.”

Spend a minute or two on google and the thing you’ll see again and again is the mention of how married couple Patrick Riley and Alaina Moore got into the music scene by traveling the world together. Rest easy guys, in this post, I just want to dedicate myself to talking about the unadulterated bliss that came with listening to Tennis last night. I assume that when one spends an extensive amount of time sailing around the world, you’ll have to live a simple lifestyle, which I conjecture is part of the reason why the music is very minimalist by nature (They wrote all their music while on that sailboat).

Before I saw Tennis live, I simply classified their sound as sunny beach pop, but after the performance, I’ll have to readjust that label quite a bit. The song “Pigeon” was an incredibly intimate slow song that just seem perfect for a throwback to the 1950s or 60s. Check out closing lyrics of the song here: “I’ll be holding you tight, let you sleep through the night / Let the wind blow; we will be safe, I know / I will be there, I promise to take care of you”. There’s this quiet and sincere reassurance that is so palpable that it just instantly comforts you as Alaina sings those lyrics. Now with the mention to the wind blowing, I assume that’s a reference back to the sailing experience, a more personal tale if you will. What would be really interesting to find out is the meaning of some of the song titles like “Marathon” and “South Carolina” because I think that there’s a deeper significance to it, much how Tennis is much more than your average beach rock band.

The songs from album Cape Dory simply drip with nostalgia, but the newer songs unveiled were even better. If only there was some tracks that were out, I could show how Tennis is evolving a bit more with their new tracks (which I fully support because of the incorporation of more those killer sha-la-la’s and whoa- ooh-uh-ohhs).However, my definite favorite was “Seafarer” off the first album.

Here’s the live performance yesterday, thanks to Seattleshowgal (Listen closely at the 1:26 mark to hear an absolutely sweet series of oh oh oh’s. Seriously can there be more of these in all songs?)

Now check out the cd version: 


It’s easy to assume that Tennis is just the duo between Mr. Patrick and Miss Alaina, but I would like to drawn attention to drummer James Barone. He is the unsung hero of the show, while Alaina won over hearts with her lovely voice and Patrick provided some nifty guitar work in his tucked button top (very classy), James laid the foundation of each song with beats fitting that of jukebox tracks of decades earlier. Was that statement a very glossy way of covering up my lack of knowledge about drums? Oh absolutely, but I did enjoy how easy it was to clap along with the beat thanks to the drums.

I normally don’t do this, but after the show, I immediately hustled through the crowds waiting for Macklemore and visited the booth where Tennis would be after the show. I then spontaneously bought the cd there and waited in line for 20 minutes for the band to come out and sign. Like I said, I normally don’t do it, but this was the best show I went to that day, and I wanted to meet these people. During the show Miss Alaina was very sweet, articulating her thanks as the crowd gushed over each song. I wanted to know if she was just like that offstage. There was little to fear, because all the band members were very amiable. I think that is really the neatest thing of Bumbershoot, the accessibility of the artists to the public. Listening to bands live can further one’s appreciation and make an individual find out more about the band, but a positive interaction with the band can make an individual proclaim his or her loyalty and love. Hell, it made me put Tennis on repeat all night long afterwards!

Make no mistake, I do have an affinity for indie music, so I may have delved into hyperbole at times during this review, but dear god what a fantastic performance. As a first generation Vietnamese American, I do face pressure from my parents to uphold my responsibility not only as the eldest son, but also my duty to be successful in college and not allow my parents’ sacrifices to be wasted. It’s a burden I sometimes further aggravate  by being uptight and anal about little details whenever I am assigned to look after my brother and his friends. Tennis’ performance was different from every other artist in that it made me smile and sway a bit with the music with the rest of the crowd, who were clearly captivated in this dreamy atmosphere along with me. It was also really nice to be at a performance that didn’t have most of the crowd lighting up (the price I paid to go to hip hop performances). As the sun began its descent at the end of the performance, I couldn’t ask for a better way to cap off an absolutely memorable day in the beautiful Seattle weather…and I still had a few more hours to go! Thanks once again Tennis.

2 responses to “Tennis Bumbershoot Review

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