Alaina Moore of Tennis is living a lie, and other things we learned Sunday night

Tennis closes out the main stage at The UMS 2015 on Sunday. (Photo by John Wenzel)
Tennis closes out the main stage at The UMS 2015 on Sunday. (Photo by John Wenzel)

Between-song banter isn’t usually worth remembering at concerts, but Sunday night’s main stage set by Denver indie act Tennis contained a few worthy tidbits.

As green-and-white, LivWell-branded beach balls bounced around the outdoor crowd and a calm, relaxed band took the stage, singer Alaina Moore wasted no time bringing out some of her most recognizable songs, including “Never Work for Free” and a chest-thumping “Mean Streets.” Tennis’ music already sounds genetically engineered for outdoor summer events, heavy on melody and tasteful phrasings, so the sizable but mellow crowd let it wash over them like a breeze after the preceding days of sweaty, boozy, ear-splitting performances.

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“Let’s all release our inner cool dad!” Moore implored, seemingly only half-joking, as the five-piece band plowed on. A rollicking “Petition” was about as soulful as an act like Tennis gets, with Moore wholly embracing the acrobatic chorus, eyes squeezed shut, like a teenager singing into her hairbrush in front of a mirror (a teenager with a killer, clarion voice and a hot mic).

Her chattiness continued with the introduction of a new song that the band “literally wrote three days ago” — which had presumably never been played live and still lacked a title. Its driving, uptempo rhythm, stronger-than-usual surf-guitar accents and welcome backup harmonies helped bolster Moore’s tentative vocals during the verses.

“I have a confession to make,” she said before “Marathon,” continuing her chatty streak. “I’ve been living a lie. I’m actually five inches shorter than this.” She then threw off her shoes and, indeed, shrank appreciably behind her keyboard.

The band’s sharp, affecting playing continued through a killer “My Better Self,” as well as Moore’s between-song tidbits: “This is Joe’s first show as our drummer,” she said of Joe Richmond, formerly of Churchill, who runs sound for Tennis and must have learned their UMS set at lightning speed. Moore exhorted the crowd to dance for “I’m Callin’,” but people were already doing it, singing along, smiling and enjoying a soft but admirably professional landing from the biggest music flight in Colorado.