Tennis are on a winning streak. After parting ways with their former label and feeling disenchanted by the business of music, the duo needed to regroup. They retreated on a sail boat, and re-discovered their commitment to their vision.
With a newfound resolve, Tennis started their own label, Mutually Detrimental, and returned to the studio, turning out the bewitching, vulnerable and playful, Yours Conditionally. “Yours Conditionally was about extricating ourselves from an industry that made us feel joyless and restrained” says front woman, Alaina Moore. Staying true to their convictions paid off literally and figuratively, as this self-released record has proven to be their most commercially successful to date.
Last week Tennis performed a number of the new songs from Yours Conditionally and We Can Die Happy (their follow up EP released on November 10th) live at LA’s Fonda Theatre, along with a number of older favorites, like “I’m Calling,” “Origins,” and “Never Work For Free.” It was the biggest show the band has played in Los Angeles, and they were overcome with gratitude by the turnout. “This is a long way from the basement I was home schooled in” beamed Moore. “Thanks for making my dreams come true tonight.”
As most Tennis fans know, the pair is as visually creative as they are musically, which translates to their live show. A consistent haze of blue, pink and purple lights flooded the stage, as the band seamlessly moved from one song to the next. The drummer was positioned stage-left on an elevated platform, while the rest took their places, together creating a trapezoid formation. All of it created a glow around Tennis, which made the stage set-up feel like performance art in itself.
Each member played their part. Patrick, head down, zoned in on the guitar as he grooved back and forth on stage, at times breaking away to play keys. Alaina of course, steered the vessel, as she gracefully sang and played the keyboard, and swiveled her leg to the beat, keeping time in her silver platform boots.
One of the most personal and challenging songs to write on the We Can Die Happy EP was “I Miss That Feeling.” The song recounts Moore’s experiences and struggles with anxiety. While writing the song, the singer experienced a panic attack from the pressure of trying to get the track just right. During the concert, Moore introduced the song and shared the inspiration behind it: she experienced a huge panic attack prior to Tennis’ first big show, followed by the muscle-memory that triggers her often ahead of performing since that experience.
It was one of many touching moments during the show. Before closing out the night, Moore shared with everyone how she and Patrick sat down and figured out how much money they needed to live comfortably and be happy, “which isn’t a lot when you live in the middle of nowhere,” because they’d rather make music they believe in, than have more success playing music they don’t stand by. She ended by encouraging everyone to not be afraid to embrace who they are.
The overall takeaway of Yours Conditionally and We Can Die Happy can be found in the meaning behind that one temperamental track, “I Miss That Feeling”:
“Even in the middle of hyperventilating, I thought spiraling into anxiety over a song about anxiety was oddly fitting. Very me” says Moore. “In the end I settled on a kinder approach. I made the minor chords major; I softened things. I made the song a love letter to my constant companion rather than a denunciation of it.”
In today’s world I think we can all settle on a kinder approach. With ourselves and with each other. Make a minor change, shift the perspective, listen to Tennis. See which areas in your life soften.
After spending their summer supporting Spoon, The Shins, Father John Misty, and performing at Coachella, Tennis are now embarking on their largest headlining tour in North America this fall and winter. Get tickets here.
Tennis Fall/Winter Tour 2017-18
Nov 24 // San Diego, CA // Music Box•
Nov 25 // Santa Ana, CA // Constellation Room•
Nov 27 // Sacramento, CA // Harlow’s•
Nov 29 // Eugene, OR // Hi-Fi Music Hall •
Nov 30 // Portland, OR // Wonder Ballroom•
Dec 1 // Seattle, WA // Neptune Theater•
Dec 2 // Vancouver, BC // The Cobalt•
Jan 6 // Denver, CO // Ogden Theater
Jan 10 // Omaha, NE // The Waiting Room
Jan 11 // Minneapolis, MN // Fine Line Music Cafe
Jan 12 // Milwaukee, WI // Turner Hall Ballroom
Jan 13 // Chicago, IL // Metro
Jan 15 // Indianapolis, IN // the Hi-Fi
Jan 16 // Detroit, MI // Majestic Theatre
Jan 18 // Toronto, ON // The Mod Club Theatre
Jan 19 // Ithaca, NY // The Haunt
Jan 20 // S. Burlington, VT // Higher Ground Showcase Lounge
Jan 21 // Boston, MA // Royale
Jan 23 // Brooklyn, NY // Brooklyn Steel
Jan 24 // Washington, DC // 9:30 Club
Jan 25 // Philadelphia, PA // Union Transfer
Jan 27 // Carrboro, NC // Cat’s Cradle
Jan 29 // Atlanta, GA // Terminal West
Jan 30 // Nashville, TN // Mercy Lounge
Feb 1 // Dallas, TX // Tree’s
Feb 2 // San Antonio, TX // Paper Tiger
Feb 3 // Austin, TX // Emo’s
• – support by Wild Ones