Lo-fi, surfer-pop group Tennis recently brought their carefree, beach-approved music to one of the most appropriate places in the world, Southern California, gracing Los Angeles with a performance at El Rey Theatre.

The show opened with indie folk-rockers J. Thoven. The group’s set started off distinctly folk and progressively became more and more rock-y. Overall they sounded like a rock-infused combination of Mumford and Sons and Fleet Foxes. The lead singer’s voice effortlessly glided in and out of his impressive falsetto on several songs, and at times, his vocals resembled those of Bob Dylan with a modern twist.

J. Thoven used a myriad of instruments throughout the performance, ranging from a triangle to a nondescript rain-stick-esque rattle. In addition, the band members themselves frequently switched up their instruments. One member would move from bass to guitar to drums all within a few songs. In fact, four out of five of the band members were playing some form of a guitar — from acoustic to electric to bass — at least once. It was clear that J. Thoven truly enjoyed performing, and their free-spirited nature and pure jubilance was a highlight of the band’s set.

Three-person indie-pop group Tennis started their performance with an easiness that was completely apropos for their music style. Vocalist Alaina Moore stood behind her keyboard in all her adorable splendor. Her trademark ethereal voice, which combines the wildly popular ambient style with a twinge of rock, rang through, giving the band’s music a pixie-like quality.

Tennis’ nostalgic style draws on elements from past decades, ranging from the ’60s to the ’90s depending on the song. When recorded, the band’s sound could be described as an even breezier, retro version of Best Coast, but when the band performed live, their beat was understandably stronger. Although this meant that they lost a good deal of their stripped-down, retro style, it did give the familiar songs a refreshing feel.

Although enjoyable, the set was pretty repetitive and could have benefited from a bit of variation. The band’s songs are pretty consistent in nature as is, and the performance went on a bit longer than was necessary. Although it was great to see a comprehensive set that represented Tennis’ repertoire, it did begin to start droning on for an uncomfortable amount of time, and a bit of editing could have improved the set considerably.

However, Tennis’s performance did have some notable highlights. The band debuted a new song that they admitted was written for and later rejected by the Twilight movie franchise. It was probably for the best that the song didn’t make the cut, because it was undeniably better than the over-hyped series itself (sorry, Twilight fans!). Also, it was great to hear their various takes on different music eras, which sets the band apart from many indie pop bands today. It was clear that the members of Tennis truly enjoyed performing, and that happiness shone through during their set.

Tennis Tour Dates:

09/26 – Slowdown Jr. – Omaha, NE
09/27 – Off Broadway – St. Louis, MO
09/28 – Pygmalion Music Festival w/ Dirty Projectors – Urbana, IL
09/28 – Midpoint Music Festival – Cincinnati, OH
10/01 – Union Transfer – Philadelphia, PA **
10/02 – Maxwell’s – Hoboken, NJ **
10/03 – Bowery Ballroom – New York, NY **
10/04 – TT the Bear’s – Cambridge, MA **
10/08 – Rock and Roll Hotel – Washington, DC **
10/09 – Cat’s Cradle – Carrboro, NC **
10/10 – 40 Watt Club – Athens, GA **
10/12 – Fitzgerald’s – Houston, TX **
10/13 – Trees – Dallas, TX **
10/14 – Austin City Limits – Austin, TX

** with Wild Belle

For more info:

Tennis website