Sun and surf - rarely do all the bands on a bill have such a distinct (and welcome) common denominator. As we enter the final weeks of winter, what could be better than say, synth-laden pop from the sunshine state, ephemeral vocals from a recent Bruise Cruiser, or infectious melodies from a pair who fell in love at sea?
It was a good line-up at the Bell House on Thursday (3/3) - even if the evening got off to a bit of an uneven start with Holiday Shores' erratic sound and Nathan Pemberton's woozy, reverb-drenched vocals. With their new material especially (and most of it was new), the Florida group touched on a number of different sounds as if their songs were molded to passing whims or random fits of inspiration. From time to time, their underlying pop sensibilities rang out as with the hit from their last album, "Phones Don't Feud." Other times, the arrangements were a bit... creepy.
The catchy keyboard riffs of Holiday Shores may have been more immediately compelling, but La Sera benefited greatly from front woman Katy Goodman's magnetism and daydream-like vocals. Whether excitedly addressing the crowd between songs or rocking out on the bass, Goodman never ceased to smile - even when guitarist Scott Shannon broke a string. She simply turned the dead air into a celebration by welcoming a member of the crowd on stage to commemorate his 19th birthday.
Though the band is based in LA, Goodman used to live in New York, and was clearly "glad to be back." She even dedicated a cover of a Shirelles song ("Dedicated to the One I Love") to Brooklyn to prove it. La Sera also played a handful of "brand new" songs from their recently released self-titled album before closing their set with "Beating Heart," which features hypnotic layers of vocals.
Last up: Tennis. After hastily hand-copying the set list and conducting a brief sound check, the band launched into the light, upbeat song "Seafarer," which conveniently laid out much of Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley's story - as if you didn't already know the charming details of their romantic voyage.
Many of Tennis' songs may start out a bit slow, but they have a tendency to burst into a quickened tempo and soaring vocals, as if each song is a slowly building wave.
With the exception of just one song ("Water Birds"), they played through every song of their recently-released album, in addition to showcasing a few new songs, including "Robin." "It's about a baby bird we saved last month," said Moore by way of introducing the song. ("Of course they're saving baby birds," remarked someone in the crowd.)
None of the newer songs seem to immediately sparkle as much as their predecessors (especially "South Carolina" or the crowd favorite "Marathon"), but with most clocking in at around three minutes, it hardly matters. The next song is always imminent... at least to a point. "Oh my God this has gone so quickly!" Moore exclaimed after they had breezed through much of the set. After only 40 minutes on stage, Tennis concluded their encore-less set with "Hard Times, a Charles Dickens-themed song.
The same tour hit Bowery Ballroom in Manhattan one night earlier. More pictures and Tennis's setlist from the Brooklyn show, and a video from Bowery Ballroom where Katy Goodman joined the headliners for "Marathon", below...
Tennis w/ Katy Goodman - Marathon @ Bowery Ballroom
Tennis Bell House set list
Take Me Somewhere
Long Boat Pass
TENNIS - 2011 TOUR DATES
Mar 05 Rock 'n Roll Hotel - Washington, DC * !
Mar 07 Local 506 - Chapel Hill, NC * !
Mar 08 Grey Eagle - Asheville, NC * !
Mar 10 The Basement - Nashville, TN * !
Mar 11 The Earl - Atlanta, GA *
Mar 12 The Social - Orlando, FL *
Mar 13 The Orpheum - Tampa, FL *
Mar 15 Parish @ House of Blues - New Orleans, LA *
Mar 16 - 20 SXSW Austin, TX
# = w/ Lord Huron
* = w/ La Sera
! = w/ Holiday Shores