Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Review: Tennis at the Parish

Last night was my third time seeing Tennis perform this year and I had so many thoughts throughout the show. The first one is superficial but I was somewhat fixated on it. Does Alaina get spiral perms or is her hair naturally curly like that? Or perhaps both? My next thought was about her singing. Did she perform in church as a child or just listen to a lot of Whitney Houston? I had a vision of a younger, more awkward looking Alaina as a child, in her bedroom singing along to Whitney records into a hair brush. Her voice is so plain but so powerful and she really delivers when she sings live. I feel like if you met her on the street, or she were your co-worker at Starbucks you would never suspect that she had such a powerful, soulful voice, which is part of the appeal of her as a singer.

Musically, the band is always on point. They aren't reinventing the wheel with their synth fueled surf-pop but what they do have in abundance is restraint. It's pretty obvious that all of these musicians could play much more complex arrangements but they stick to their wrote parts perfectly. Tennis' music does not fit neatly into any specific genre box, with elements of pop, surf, and jazz but one thing you can say is that if any element is out of balance it throws off the entire composition. In other words, it's difficult to play stuff that is so simple on the surface.

In terms of reviewing the crowd, I give them a B+, A-. This wasn't your typical, let's chat through the whole show kind of crowd, that you find at most Austin shows. People were largely attentive and rapt with the band's performance. I feel like sometimes Austin audiences can be a bit unnerving to some bands because we don't, necessarily dance around a whole lot, we tend to be either laser-focused on the performance or largely disinterested and chatty. My biggest complaint with the crowd last night has to do with one girl who was between myself and Tennis who had her iPhone right in my line of sight throughout 3-4 full songs, repeatedly trying to take the perfect cell-phone photo. Obviously, I like to take shitty cell-phone photos at shows and it can be tricky to get a good one but there is a line of respect for your follower patron that was crossed by that one girl last night. Don't leave your fucking phone in my fucking line of sight throughout an entire song or an entire set of songs. You pop the phone up, you shoot a couple of photos then you get it out of my fucking face. This is even permissible at several points in the show but have some fucking dignity and respect. Your shitty iPhone shots are an embarrassment to you, to Apple, to the band and to your fellow patrons.

So, other than that one girl the crowd was cool, the sound was impeccable, the lights were fancy and the drinks were out of my price range. In other words, it was a typical show at The Parish. Check the Tennis tour page to see if they are playing your (non-Austin) metro-area.