One month, two shows…

In my ongoing quest to get out more frequently in the new city, on Wednesday I headed out to the Horseshoe Tavern. While I’ve rarely been one to try and buy tickets at the door, my trek was fruitful and I got in in without any troubles. Although, not getting a physical ticket kinda sucked because there was nothing to add to the collection.

Hospitality was the opener. Wikipedia says they are a trio from Brooklyn, can’t remember if they were a foursome live though. They played some a number of tracks from their new self-titled album, calling out “Argonauts”, “Julie” and “Friends of Friends”. The last of which they announced having a video for — checking out YouTube, it stars Maeby from Arrested Development!

I found they got stronger as the set went on. Not sure if it was just me warming up to them or perhaps they slipped into sings they were more familiar with. Overall, they were decent and I’ll definitely make sure to give a listen to their album.

After a short wait, Tennis took the stage. I’d only recently discovered Tennis after seeing them on Ryan’s Rdio page but was looking forward to seeing checking them out. They kinda have an indie lounge sound, a great 60s free-spirit/retro-pop sort of vibe. I thought this was really accentuated when Alaina Moore danced, her movement punctuated by the sway of her shoulders. That said, the sound was pretty bad to start — some ear-splitting feedback in the first few tracks and, later, her mic actually shorting out during a song.

Tennis grew out of husband-and-wife Patrick Riley and Alaina Moore buying a sailboat and taking an eight-month voyage along the Atlantic coastline, deciding to document the trip through song that turned into the album Cape Dory. I really enjoyed Riley’s work on guitar, not necessarily the best technically ever but played with an intensity that reminded me of some of my favourite all-time live guitar performances by a guy backing Veda Hille and at a Controller.Controller show.

If Tennis’ first album is (literally) all about yacht-rock, their latest album, Young & Old, is more about hanging out in woods and is made up of tracks like “Deep in the Woods”. I think my favourite track, both of the night and in general, was “Origins”.

While the focus of the band is clearly Riley and Moore — and how could it not be, in a husband and wife team — I enjoyed their backing bassist (sometime keyboardist). He seemed to me like Where’s Waldo’s hipper but more uncomfortable cousin. Reading through some reviews of the band, Riley and Moore also seem to possess a great blend of not talking themselves or internet buzz too serious while still being pretty sincere about their musicianship.

They played a couple new tracks, “Petition” standing out as the stronger of the two live. I found that Tennis tracks that really emphasized the refrain seemed the strongest, both received and delivered, and certainly “Petition” was that. It was also one of just a couple tracks that Moore only sang on, instead of also playing keyboard. Overall, I didn’t think Tennis had the best stage presence but in a larger venue could see Moore connecting with the crowd better when getting out from behind the keyboard.

All in all, I was pretty happy to have gotten out to see another show. Live music twice a month seems a good goal to aim for and so February was a great success, even if took a Leap Year to make it possible.

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