The evening of October 27th rolled around, which meant the night to see Tennis at Asbury Lanes was finally here. Not to be mistaken with the sport, Tennis is a married duo composed of Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley. Their retro aura is memorable, playful, and undeniably sweet, with a sound that reigns in groovy and blissful melodies. I was absolutely enamored the first time I had heard them live during their tour for Swimmer, released in 2020. Since then, I couldn’t wait to see them again.
Each show I attend has something notable, ranging from rich sound production to thoughtful set design. As for Tennis, they will guarantee a good time. And truthfully, what more could we ask for?
Throughout more than a decade of creative exploration, they’ve remained grounded in their indie-pop/rock sound. Their latest album, Pollen, embraces everything they’re loved for: immersive, earnest lyrics and a catchy rhythm that makes you sing and dance.
Some have critiqued Tennis for remaining too static. In my eyes– and ears– there’s no need to fix what isn’t broken.
Pollen is an album that gave me more of what I wanted: refreshing yet undeniably Tennis tunes. It introduces new paces and layers while still unapologetically maintaining their signature groove. Tennis doesn’t lean into the pressure of having to release something dramatically different. If anything, it’s impressive that they can continue to dream up music which honors their unique sound and still excite long-time listeners.
The night began strongly with “Borrowed Time” and “Ladies Don't Play Guitar.” “Runner” followed, the first track I heard from Tennis and probably my all-time favorite; I think it embodies the melancholic pop that Tennis so beautifully creates. The scene couldn't be more romantic, with Alaina expressing that they loved being in Asbury Park.
“We were watching the moon rise before starting our show,” she shared. After greetings to New Jersey and some reminiscing, the cool and relaxed Alaina led the band back to work. “Let’s get it, boys.”
“One Night with the Valet'' was one of my favorites. It conveys the blossoming of connection as they describe Alaina and Patrick’s first meeting. I love the rhythmic speaking element where Alaina iterates, “Top down, head in the clouds / You get yours from us / My baby in a physical world / Tell me you get yours from us.” It was pure fun getting to dance with the band as they played this super catchy bridge.
Themes of love emanated with “Let’s Make a Mistake Tonight,” which illustrates romance and sensual desire as Alaina sings, “You could deny me but I know what I want / I can feel it in my body / Hand on the wheel / Hand on my thigh.” Another ode to the warm excitement of cruising through the night beside someone you love, “Pollen Song” closed the set. This song stuck with me for the rest of my night, leaving me mesmerized and unable to stop singing “Blowing in the wind / Growing back again / Through the pouring rain / I have said in vain…”
Tennis is one of those artists that have a no-skip track record. It was nothing but joyous finding out that the next song on the setlist was yet another ride of shimmering vocals, keys, and synths.
See the night’s set-list below (my favorites highlighted!):
Ladies Don't Play Guitar
One Night With the Valet
My Emotions Are Blinding
In The Morning I'll Be Better
My Better Self
How to Forgive
Let’s Make a Mistake Tonight
Need Your Love
I'll Haunt You