It’s a cold, snowy, January afternoon in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I find myself driving home from work on 35-W, white-knuckling it, running low on gas, and going about 30 MPH on tires that should have been replaced two years ago (sorry, Mom!). Somewhere, also in Minneapolis, Alaina Moore, lead singer of the band Tennis, is waking up on the ride in from Omaha to realize that she is sick. I do my best to keep my 2004 Chevy Malibu within the yellow lines, and she pumps herself full of what she calls “steroids;” after all, we both have a show to get to tonight!
Fine Line Music Cafe is probably the best venue you can attend when you’re looking to spend as little time as possible outside in the elements when you arrive. With about three full-size parking garages all within a one-block radius, it’s hard to beat that convenience. We arrive just as opening band Overcoats, who were nice enough to put us on their guest list for this show, took the stage.
Overcoats is a New York-based electronic-pop duo consisting of singer-songwriters Hana Elion and JJ Mitchell. Almost immediately, their harmonies took over the room, and we all forgot about the sub-zero temperatures that were looming just outside the door.
As they rolled through their setlist, making sure to emphasize their most notable songs from their debut album YOUNG, what struck me the most about their performance was the very clear friendship that existed between Hana & JJ. It’s often hard to imagine what some of our favorite performers may have acted like on stage when they were still struggling to fill 50-capacity bars, but you could tell just by watching that performing came naturally to these two, and whether they were performing for 1,500 people or 15, they were going to have fun!
After a very impressive set by Overcoats, there was a brief changeover as we all prepared for Denver-natives Tennis to take the stage. Tennis is an American indie pop band from Denver, Colorado made up of husband-and-wife duo Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley. They released their debut album, Cape Dory, in January of 2011, and have released three albums since, most recently being the critically acclaimed album Yours Conditionally, on their own label in March 2017.
Although being from Colorado they are certainly no stranger to snow, Alaina was quick to announce to the crowd that they were pretty shocked by how frigid the air can be up in these parts. This was also the part of the show where she announced to the crowd that she was indeed dealing with a head-cold, which would prevent her from “Doing my typical Celine Dion-style runs tonight!” she said with a chuckle.
While Celine Dion she may not be, there is no doubt that she has the vocal prowess to hang with pretty much anybody in the business, a skill she perfected after years of singing in her church’s choir as a kid.
One of the most notable things about Tennis is the sort of “1977 Sears Catalog” style that they possess. Decked out in sparkly shirts, blown-out hair, high-waisted pants, flower-clad shirts, platform heels, and Tom Selleck mustaches, their fashion sense seems to come from an era that ended long before they were even born, but somehow it just works. Not to mention music you can’t help but want to dance along to!
Performing for over an hour, and running through crowd favorites such as Ladies Don’t Play Guitar and In The Morning I’ll Be Better, it was time for Tennis to call it a night. After endless “Thank You’s!” and “We’ll be back soon, we promise!” Alaina and Patrick scurried into the green room, and it was time for all of us to be thrust back out into the elements.