SYDNEY GORE / THE EAGLE
The temperature may have plummeted to 40 degrees in the District on the night of Oct. 8, but the Rock N Roll Hotel was all fired up for Tennis’ performance. Husband-and-wife duo from Denver, Colo. Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley set the mood for an energetic night with their endearing indie tunes.
Wild Belle opened the show with soulful alt-folk songs reminiscent of the 1970s, exemplified in their breakout single, “Keep You.” Both siblings, Natalie and Elliot Bergman, dressed professionally in blazers and button-downs with jeans and boots. Using tambourines, saxophones, keyboards and more, the Chicago-based band reintroduced the audience to old-fashioned rock ‘n’ roll with a reggae-jazz vibe to it.
Natalie’s foxy voice sounded similar to an edgier Grace Potter mixed with a dab of Amy Winehouse, belting out buoyant melodies for the band’s first D.C. show.
Soon after, the venue’s disco ball was set in motion and Tennis took the stage. Starting the set with “It All Feels The Same,” the band’s single from their sophomore album “Young & Old,” the crowd never stopped moving, dancing and swaying to songs, both new and old.
Tennis also included favorites from their first album, “Cape Dory,” such as “Marathon” and “Baltimore,” as well as a cover of Television’s “Guiding Light.”
With four members assembled on stage, the band has a fuller sound live than on their records. The slightest alterations like the addition of maracas created a breezier flow, giving their live set a surf-rock edge. During “Petition,” drummer James Barone experimented with a jazzier beat while also hitting a tambourine. Riley’s guitar also stood at the forefront of their set, shredding so hard that his toes curled up in his boots.
The band also debuted a brand new song titled “Dimming Light” that showcased Moore’s vocal range on its prolonged high notes. Her whimsical voice has a softer side, yet she still manages to sing out above the other instruments, all while pounding away on the keyboard.
Moore was appreciative of her fans, expressing her gratitude frequently throughout the night. After playing 16 songs, the “longest set we’ve ever played,” Tennis enthusiastically did an encore.
“At our second show [in D.C.], we opened for The Walkmen at 9:30 club, but I was so nervous that I was throwing up back stage,” Moore said. “And our third show…I was so sick that I had to have random people come up on stage…and sing ‘Marathon’ with me. Tonight, we’re breaking the semi-curse,” Moore said.