If you think Denver might be incongruous with surf rock, wait till you see Williamsburg-style hipsters at the Hi-Dive. Both incongruities were in play at Saturday night’s Tennis show. Plunging deep v-necks, $600 eyeglasses, short guitar straps and high-water pants all made an appearance at the Hi-Dive, along with sunny coastal sounds and sublime female vocals.
Tennis seems to have popped, mushroom-like, out of the Denver scene, with the help of blog buzz, a forthcoming record courtesy the Black Keys’ Patrick Carney and national critical attention. Their rise to prominence seems to run counter to the standard M.O. of Denver music: struggle, tour, record, repeat. Perhaps it is because of their national recognition, perhaps because of their sunny, coastal sound, that Tennis and their fan base seemed so out of place at a December show at the landlocked Hi-Dive. They didn’t sound bad … not in the least … but at the same time, to say they sounded like your average Denver band would be a stretch.
Photos, below, from a February show at the Hi-Dive.
Sauna’s opening set established a high bar for the evening. Alternately evoking a crepe-paper strewn prom night and a bonkers B-52’s cover band, the high-schoolers rocked the ‘Dive with grinning enthusiasm. Rounding out the middle, Brooklyn-by-way-of-Arizona band Miniature Tigers continued the beachy proceedings with their ’80s-influenced, dance-y rock.
Tennis’ set was pleasant, bright and cheerful, featuring much from the album “Cape Dory,” but also a few new tunes from the forthcoming album (due out in February). While Alaina Moore’s voice is undeniably impressive and Patrick Riley’s surfy guitar is deftly true to the band’s retro roots, the band’s songs melt into one another like the days of a long weekend. Their warming, seafaring sound brought a welcome dose of sunshine to a long winters’ night, but after the energy and fun onstage antics of Sauna and Miniature Tigers they seemed a little blase and aloof. A someone who has covered Denver music for more than five, I felt an odd disconnect from this band. It didn’t hit me until I got home, but the truth is, it was the first time I’d seen a Denver band play the Hi-Dive on the last stop of their tour where it felt like they were just passing through.
Cassandra Schoon is a Denver freelance writer and regular Reverb contributor.