Posted in music | pictures on December 2, 2010

photos by Amanda Hatfield, words by Rachel Kowal

Tennis
Tennis

Camaraderie and friendship hung thickly in the air at last night's show at the Mercury Lounge. I missed La Big Vic, but I arrived in time to witness the "orchestral space pop" (their words) of Miracles of Modern Science. The (now) Brooklyn band formed when its five members were undergrads at Princeton. On the surface, their pedigree and jargon-riddled song titles may appear to alienate them from a wider fan base, but their performance was stripped of any signs of petty elitism.

"This song is not very good, but we're playing it anyway," one member joked, mid set. The band's sense of ease on stage is perhaps surpassed only by that of their jocularly ravenous fans. Many people in the audience seemed to know the band, or at the very least - drummer Tyler Pines. ("Show me your tits, Tyler" and "I'm horny for Tyler" were a couple of their choice lines.)

Though they've been playing together since 2005, they are just embarking on releasing their debut album... that is if they can afford it. They've already recorded it. Now it's just a matter of raising the funds to mix it, package it, and promote it.

Like MoMs, Family Portrait is also a made up of old friends. Its members have been buddies since high school (or college) and also maintain a closely curated record label together (Underwater Peoples).

For last night's show, they played a fair amount of new material, which more prominently features elements of electro-pop. They kicked off their show with just snyths, a keyboard, some prefab beats, and a bass. Guitars didn't come into play until later.

Though it was fun to see the band experimenting and branching out, I thought the electronic additions (intergalactic voice distortion, included) were a bit distracting at times. Of course, many of their songs are brand new, so it may just only be a matter of time before their fixation on their new toys wears off a bit and they learn to better integrate the new sound with the old.

The family affair continued with Tennis (who are also on Underwater Peoples). Thanks in part to their charming, publicity-friendly story, this husband/wife duo received a fair amount of hype early on, but they don't seem to be letting it get to their heads. Though their sound is more polished now (thanks in part to their new drummer - James Barone), they still put on a modest show.

Vocalist/keyboardist Alaina Moore was positively charming. Even her jab at one audience member was delivered sweetly. (After someone claimed to be from Coconut Grove of the song "Marathon," Moore demurely replied, "You can't live there. It's covered by the tide probably once a day. You'd drown. I called your bluff!")

Though she is undoubtedly soft-spoken by nature, Moore's vocals are surprisingly rich, which seems only appropriate for both her labor of love with beau Patrick Riley and for the Brenda Lee cover ("Is It True") that she chose late in the set.

My only big complaint was the brevity of Tennis' performance, which Moore herself referenced near the end of their blinkingly fast 11-song set. "We keep writing more songs, but they're all three minutes. So we keep adding and our set keeps getting just as short." They concluded their 35-minute set with a new tune, a love song entitled "Waterbirds." Though not as peppy as many of their more popular songs, "Water Birds" pleasantly drifts along at its own relaxed pace - kind of like the band itself.

Catch Tennis again when they open for The Walkmen at Terminal 5 tonight (12/2). More pictures of all four bands from Mercury Lounge with Tennis's setlist, below...

La Big Vic

La Big Vic

La Big Vic

La Big Vic

La Big Vic

La Big Vic

La Big Vic

La Big Vic

La Big Vic

La Big Vic

La Big Vic

La Big Vic

La Big Vic

La Big Vic

Family Portrait

Family Portrait

Family Portrait

Family Portrait

Family Portrait

Family Portrait

Family Portrait

Family Portrait

La Big Vic

Miracles of Modern Science

Miracles of Modern Science

Miracles of Modern Science

Miracles of Modern Science

Miracles of Modern Science

Miracles of Modern Science

Miracles of Modern Science

Miracles of Modern Science

Miracles of Modern Science

Miracles of Modern Science

Miracles of Modern Science

Miracles of Modern Science

Miracles of Modern Science

La Big Vic

Family Portrait

Family Portrait

Family Portrait

Family Portrait

Family Portrait

Family Portrait

Family Portrait

Family Portrait

Tennis

Tennis

Tennis

Tennis

Tennis

Tennis

Tennis

Tennis

Tennis

Tennis

Tennis

Tennis

Tennis

Tennis Setlist
Take Me Somewhere
Sea Farer
Cape Dory
Marathon
Bimini Bay
Pigeon
Long Boat Pass
South Carolina
Is It True (Brenda Lee cover)
Baltimore
Water Birds

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Comments (18)

Who?

Posted by Anonymous | December 2, 2010 3:19 PM

Someone put up videos of the entire Tennis set: http://www.youtube.com/user/gto47

Posted by Roland | December 2, 2010 3:23 PM

Family Portrait? Tennis? What the hell is up with these terrible band names! Also after reading the press release for the band Tennis, it made me want to drown in my own vomit. I can see a crowd shouting "Family Portrait" or "Tennis" in anticipation of them coming out on stage.

Thanks,

Posted by Anonymous | December 2, 2010 3:39 PM

^Agreed. If a band can't come up with a better name then how could their music be any good or creative?

Posted by Anonymous | December 2, 2010 3:45 PM

Great set, Amanda!

Posted by Anonymous | December 2, 2010 3:50 PM

nextup GOLF!!!

Posted by Anonymous | December 2, 2010 3:58 PM

Badminton and Croquet are my shit

Posted by Anonymous | December 2, 2010 4:03 PM

All the good band names have been done. Need to switch to numbers now, e.g., 3.14, 666, etc.

Posted by no.9 | December 2, 2010 4:22 PM

3:45, if you're judging a band based on their name alone, you're an idiot. If that's the case, I suppose people that perform under their given names must be the least creative musicians of all. If you don't like the music, that's one thing, but the name? Come on.

Posted by Anonymous | December 2, 2010 4:31 PM

Family Portrait look like a bunch of creepy perverts

Posted by JT | December 2, 2010 4:33 PM

i don't really like tennis! rah

Posted by Anonymous | December 2, 2010 4:34 PM

pretty underwhelming band. im more of a beach vball player anwayz

Posted by Anonymous | December 3, 2010 8:51 AM

^Great set up. I think this show might give them a SPIKE in popularity though. They should see what it nets them!

Posted by Anonymous | December 3, 2010 8:58 AM

this band is no MATCH for... um... beach house?

Posted by Anonymous | December 3, 2010 9:28 AM

^ See that is the spirirt. I knew people would have a ball if they tried!

Posted by Anonymous | December 3, 2010 9:43 AM

there's only one band that successfully pulled off the 'named after a sport' band name and that's American Football.

Posted by Anonymous | December 3, 2010 10:20 AM

I am comment 3:23. I think their music sucks too!! It would be better if they used there own name. There is nothing uncreative about that. You are just going by your own name. If you are going to make up a band name use some thought and imagination. That is better than naming you band tennis. Plus I read their press release. It made me throw up on my own face. Their songs are about sailing? What kind of fruitcake shit is that!!! Songs should be about screwing, drinking, drugs, chicks, life, stuff like that. Not sailing. I will create 10 more band names for all you hipsters to use.

1) Badmitten
2) Soccer
3) Cricket
4) Rugby
5) Basketball
6) Baseball
7) Ping Pong
8) Football
9) Shuffle Board
10) Curling

Posted by Anonymous | December 5, 2010 4:58 PM

It's kinda sad Family Portrait peaked with Mega Secrets. Looks like they're trying to get all experimental, for the sake of being different and groundbreaking (because what band out there has used synths and prefab beats before?) but if they just had the talent to produce more quality stuff of the same style than they'd already be so successful that they'd be uncool to listen too. I hope these dudes prove me wrong.

Posted by Anonymous | December 14, 2010 9:41 PM

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