Review: Tennis Flourishes with Simplicity at Thalia Hall

Tennis - Photo by Julian Ramirez Hello, I’m Sarah. And I’m low-key obsessed with dreamy, ‘60s vibe-infused duo Tennis. I interviewed singer Alaina Moore for Gapers Block three years ago, and yet I still hadn’t seen them live. This all changed last week, when I was part of the packed house at Thalia Hall; we were all swept away in a supremely lovely musical display. And this wasn’t just any concert; this was the “Solo in Stereo” tour. Which means that Moore and husband Patrick Riley would appear sans the full band, creating an intimate environment in which their fans will be treated to demo-esque versions of full-bodied classics. Matt Costa - Photo by Julian Ramirez Matt Costa opened up the show, leading us into the evening with sunny songs that make it very apparent he’s from California. But not in a bad way; they were sweet and tenderly developed. He played songs like “Call My Name” and newer hits, leaving his “Mr. Pitiful” and “Sunshine” identity seemingly behind him. It was certainly a welcome treat; a perfectly lovely intro to what the rest of the concert held. At one point during, his voice took on a distinct, soothing Colin Meloy-style air fit that into place perfectly, serenading the crowd throughout the rest of the evocative performance. Tennis emerged on-stage to a doo-wop song, perfectly fitting for their vintage aesthetic, which, as I’ve clarified above, I’m obsessed with. Moore wore a shimmering gold dress, which was illuminated by the kaleidoscope of lights behind her, truly making me feel like I was viewing this show in a different era. Alaina Moore - Photo by Julian Ramirez The set kicked off with “10 Minutes 10 Years,” and led into “My Emotions are Blinding.” The songs were stripped-down, gorgeous, and seemingly effortless. It was a unique view for the listener to feel as if they were transported back in time, to a studio or a living room or anywhere that Moore and Riley were creating their songs. Moore took a break before “Born to Be Needed.” She discussed the theme of the song, and how as a woman, she grapples with the ideas of motherhood and that women's bodies are intended to be vessels. The night continued on with a brief Q&A session that she tried out at another venue, and it went well. Our audience had not brought the best questions to the table, but we did manage to get the question “are you a witch?” answered with “no, I would love to be Wiccan, but it would be so hard.” Patrick Riley - Photo by Julian Ramirez The songs sounded even more beautiful in their initial form, leaving the crowd reverent. Highlights of the evening included “I Miss That Feeling,” languid and piano-focused, and “Modern Woman,” which was powerful and raw even without the layered harmonies we are so used to. All in all, the show felt exclusive. I don’t know if I’ll ever see a set like that from Tennis again, but I hope they decide to do another demo-style run in the future. If so, I want you all to experience the magic too. All photos by Julian Ramirez.
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Sarah Brooks

Sarah Brooks is a native Chicagoan with a penchant for words, music, art and this magnificent city of Chicago. Raised on The Beatles and learning the violin at age 9, Sarah’s passion for music began early in life. Her musical obsessions include Wilco, Otis Redding, Neko Case and Real Estate, but they truly change daily. She can be found at a concert, trying a new restaurant, or running along the lakefront path.