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Back from the Beach

Alaina Moore feels for Katy Perry. Not the artist in abstract, but the subject of a documentary she’s watching, on the last flight of the most recent tour for a band that never intended to be a band in the first place. “[The documentary] talked about how much struggle her career was in the early [...]
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Alaina Moore feels for Katy Perry.

Not the artist in abstract, but the subject of a documentary she’s watching, on the last flight of the most recent tour for a band that never intended to be a band in the first place.

“[The documentary] talked about how much struggle her career was in the early days,” she said. “They were always trying to market her in these formalized ways and really couldn’t find her niche. I can’t think of how many times her career was thwarted by well-meaning people, when her real self wasn’t able to come across.” 

It’s a peculiar vantage point for Moore, who just a few years after she and husband Patrick Riley circulated a home-recorded demo under the moniker “Tennis, Inc.,” now finds herself in the epicenter of a new wave of female frontwomen.

“The Internet…the blog band era…it’s really democratized the music-making process,” Moore said. “When you have to go through mainstream channels, it has this homogenizing effect on female artists. Now, you can just get right around it. Since anyone can have GarageBand on their computer, all you need to do is e-mail your own songs to Pitchfork, and without a ton of expertise, women can completely run their own career. I love seeing that.”

But before the Internet, there was the ocean.

While female pop stars like Perry were swimming up (main)stream, Moore and Riley had the winds at their backs, quite literally, draining every dollar they’d accumulated to sail around the world on a boat called “Cape Dory,” the vessel for one rad post-grad adventure and the titular  inspiration for the couple’s first record.

The record came off as a musical diary of sun-kissed days at sea, with Moore and Riley presumably below deck, making jangly, harmonic songs about their travels. They were two Denver kids who had never sailed before, whose savings washed away just about the time they reached land again. Once there, they were inspired to pay tribute to their time at sea – and all the emotions that came with it – the result a beautiful, ragged mix of Riley’s stinging guitar fills crashing against Moore’s cooing soprano. Home-recorded songs like “Seafarer,” “Pigeon,” “Long Boat Pass,” and “Marathon,” their first single, were never really intended for release, “just for Patrick and I,” Moore said.

Which could explain why during the band’s first tour, Moore—yanked from the cozy confines of their home recording setup—found herself at odds with the premise of fronting a band on the road night after night. Crippling stage fright resulted in a cut-short tour.

“I was so unready for having an audience, but now, I am so thankful for that,” she said. “Over the years, I have grown and gotten used to it, but I am never going to be the woman that dances around the stage, like, WASSUP NEW YORK?!?!

That may be true, but Moore and Riley have grown tremendously on stage and in the studio, where they’ve put together their most nuanced album to date, in Ritual on Repeat. With the assistance of producers like Patrick Carney (Black Keys), Richard Swift (The Shins), and Jim Eno (Spoon), Tennis’s sonic palette has expanded with heavier percussion, dense layers of fuzz, and swelling keyboards; songs like like “I’m Calling,” and “Night Vision” add a dash of grit to the waves of endless summer sounds that are still at the bedrock of the band’s blueprint.

“This is the first time we’ve had an actually very specific vision – the first time we’re in control of what we’re doing and everything is so intentional.”

Now, not only has Moore conquered her stage demons, but also the band has taken cues from the way the songs sound live.

“It’s affected so much of the way we write,” she said. “Marathon…I mean, I would never write a song like that again – not in a million years. I was writing it just for me and Patrick, not anticipating anyone hearing it. I wasn’t thinking about it as being my legacy, but now that’s the way I think: my recording catalogue, a legacy. Even if it’s the most tiny little legacy, it’s still mine.”

Courtesy The Wild Honey Pie

Ritual on Repeat isn’t just the sound of a band growing; it’s of a group of musicians leaning into that legacy. Tennis isn’t scared of being pretty, or of wearing their ’60s-girl-group-beach-band influences on their sleeves. Moore says it’s been fun to be a part of a collective consciousness, where bands like theirs, Best Coast, Dum Dum Girls, and many others have all emerged at the same time with their own homage to a specific time in musical history.

“It’s a time that is foreign to us, which is what we’re all nostalgic about,” she said. “It’s kind of amazing that all at once there can be this collective shift culturally in our tastes. I loved witnessing that. Even now, the shift [in indie music] from the ’60s to basically to the ’90s…it’s fascinating. The reactions can be so extreme, and yet each movement kind of sets up the next one. I love watching it unfold.”

Ritual on Repeat will be released Sept. 9. Tennis will perform at the A&R Bar on Oct. 4. For more, visit www.tennis-music.com.

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Music industry designates Blackout Tuesday as time of pause

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To honor the memory of George Floyd and fix the injustices surrounding his death, the music industry has designated Tuesday as a time of pause to collaborate on ways to better support the black community.

Businesses and organizations within the music industry have been asked to pause regular work to reflect on how they can better serve the black community, according to a report from Variety. In general, businesses and organizations across the board have been asked to use Tuesday as a way to focus on the effort.

The message that circulated around social media quickly on Monday stated that “Blackout Tuesday” is being used as “a day to disconnect from work and reconnect with our community” and “an urgent step of action to provoke accountability and change.”

The movement has been gaining momentum under the hashtag #TheShowMustBePaused. Major labels such as Capitol Music Group and Warner Music Group announced their alignment with the “Blackout Tuesday” cause. 

Companies have also announced practices such as pausing social media activity throughout the whole day.

Spotify and ViacomCBS have already announced an 8 minute and 46-second moment of silence for Tuesday. The time reflects how long the Minnesota police officer dug his knee into the kneck of Floyd.

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Curbside Concerts brings live music, hope to those in need

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Can’tStopColumbus took a quick pause when the pandemic shut down the world and asked two questions:

  1. Are we sure we're solving the needs of everyone in our community during this time? 
  2. Are we not just coming up with ideas based on our own experiences?

Our elder community was one of the major demographics to have stricter socially distancing guidelines suggested to them. Holidays and birthdays went by without hugs from grandpa or grandma’s cookies.

Out of the need to fill that missing love in the life of American seniors, the idea of Curbside Concerts was born. Anyone is able to jump on the Curbside Concerts signup page and request a concert for an elder, sick people not able to leave the house, or a simple celebration.

Sending a concert telegram is free, and you can also leave a message for a loved one and suggest what type of tunes the organization-selected Columbus-area musician.

So far, the feedback has been inspiring. 

“People cried. I cried. We cried. It was beautiful,” said Zach Friedman, one of the service’s founders and creators. “We had a powerful idea on our hands, and the amazing power of the #Can'tStopColumbus community to scale it and bring it to life.”

To date, Curbside Concerts has had over 50 volunteers. Their job is to drive around a Columbus musician and their equipment with trucks provided by Ricart Automotive. It’s a road trip around the Columbus area, delivering concerts to those who may just need their spirits lifted. It’s like a non-depressing version of Inside Llewyn Davis.

Support has come from all ends of the Columbus creative community, including The Columbus Foundation, Greater Columbus Arts Council, Streetlight Guild, and What? Productions. Through these organizations, musicians are able to be paid for a route that usually lasts five to six hours. 100 percent of the donations they receive on their route also goes to the musicians.

Friedman is asking people to keep requests to older audiences.

“Working with local musicians to perform curbside at people's homes is the vehicle or medium, but the real thing we are doing here is connecting those to older people they love, with an authentic and emotional experience to send love over,” Friedman said.

We found out pretty quickly how much as a collective that we take live music for granted. Live streams have been a temporary, dulled-down replacement. You realize how long people have been robbed of the experience when you see a musician pull up in a pickup truck, set up in five minutes, and serenade neighborhoods with songs like “Lean on Me” and “What A Wonderful World.” It starts off with a message to one house and then resonates down the street, like the citizens of Gas Town rushing to The People Eater for even a drop of water.

Photos by Zak Kolesar

For most people, it was their first taste of live music since mid-March. While we may want concerts to return as soon as possible, its productions like Curbside Concerts that display the emotional power of music.

To request to send someone a concert, follow the link here: https://sendaconcert.herokuapp.com/request

To volunteer for Curbside Concerts, follow the link here: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/9040b45abaa22a4fb6-curbside

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Arts & Culture

Live music allowed again in restaurants and bars: how will these establishments respond?

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A major step forward in the return of live music in Ohio took place over the weekend. The Ohio coronavirus guidelines were updated to reflect the new COVID-19 Dine Safe Ohio Order.

The order outlining the guidelines on live music in restaurant and bars is as follows:

Musicians and bands may perform in restaurants and bars as long as the individuals who are performing maintain social distancing of at least 6 feet from all other people including, but not limited to, fellow performers and restaurant and bar patrons and staff.

DJ's are included along with musicians and bands in the order.

Something that was on the mind of a lot of musicians with the reopening of restaurants and the indefinite closing of large venues was how restaurants and bars were going to respond to the immediate venue demand. Places like Woodlands Tavern that already have an infrastructure for live music will have no problem complying with the updated order, but will restaurants and bars that depended on jukeboxes before pivot to a live music model?

With a lot more space available in restaurants due to capacity cuts, does this leave more room for a live music set up? Or will restaurants have to get rid of even more tables if they want to make room for a performer?

The thought of live music in a venue setting is alone enough to get excited about. How these places that now have the ability to host live music execute freeing up space for a band to set up or a DJ to bring his rig in while practicing social distancing is what makes this situation a tricky one.

Not being able to get down in a MojoFlo Soul Train line will be pretty tough, but it’s a tradeoff we’ll have to accept for the return of live music.

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