"We don't have good record stores in Denver. I'll be the first to admit." - Alaina Moore, Tennis
Ah, the quote heard 'round the world (or at least around the Denver scene, anyway). In case you missed it, that little off handed remark was taken from an interview that Tennis did with a blog called verb/re/verb back in December that surfaced last week and subsequently incensed a legion of locals.
Those of us in bands, who work or have worked at record stores and those of us who are really stoked on Denver's music community were all kind of like, uh, WTF, Tennis? What did we ever do to you, besides not know who you were before Pitchfork did?
So, was this supposed to be some divisive Tennis vs. Denver comment? Probably not, and whether Alaina Moore meant for her statement to be so loaded in the first place, we'll never know. We probably shouldn't even care. She can hate on Denver's record stores all she wants. People hate on our local burrito joints, lack of public transportation and horrible shoe choice (Colorado invented Crocs, remember?) all the time. Every self-inflated popular kid has to fall sometimes, even Denver.
Since I can only speak for myself as a musician, music critic and an active member of the Denver music community at large, I can admit that yes, this little YouTube comment pissed me off. I don't like Tennis to begin with -- the band's music, I mean; I don't know them as people -- and the Denver hate just added more gas to the fire.
I've not had much interest in the band or their seemingly contrived, oceanic white people on a boat story since it first "broke." The hype surrounding the release of Cape Dory was exhausting to me, and other than their supposed fantastic voyage, I didn't see how this lo-fi beach pop was any different than any other lo-fi beach pop.
So then, why such a big fire over something that really I shouldn't care either way about? Tennis has never claimed (that I know of) to be a part of any scene in the state they come from. The owe no allegiance to anyone, any venue (DIY or otherwise), or any bands that they may have come up with. Tennis didn't abandon their roots the moment the blogosphere started to sniff their butts. So what if they think Denver sucks, that's great. They're allowed to. Plus, it's a free country -- saying a city's selection of record stores is subpar is an unalienable right.
So why was I so mad? In the decade and a half I've been involved in music here, there has been a certain feeling of underdogged-ness; If cities like Lawrence and Omaha could have nationally-recognized scenes, why couldn't we? There are dozens of incredible bands that have formed here in Denver over the last thirty or so years, and some of us are very proud of that fact.
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So, when a band that supposedly hails from where I'm from doesn't seem to know or care about what's going on here, I get annoyed. I shouldn't, because everyone's desires and ramifications for success are different. Just because I want to tell the world that Denver has incredible things going on and that my band wouldn't be where it was today without our community, doesn't mean Tennis should do that.
So, instead of getting my panties in a bunch because a band from Colorado said that Denver's record stores are a joke, perhaps I should just cherish what we do have. Isn't that how it's supposed to work? When someone trashes something we love, we just get to love it even more because it's ours, right?
Besides, at the end of the day, we're the ones who got to see Sonic Youth play at Monkey Mania. We got to watch people make out in line for the bathroom at the "last" Black Black Ocean show at The Construct. We played shows at The Climax, 15th Street Tavern and Hipster Youth Halfway House.
That stuff is Denver and it's ours -- and maybe someday, one of us who thinks Wax Trax and Twist and Shout and Black & Read are the shit will get interviewed by some dweeb in L.A., and we can tell the world all about it. Until then, Tennis can keep looking for that out-of-print Grandaddy record somewhere else.