Denver indie band Tennis has had no shortage of success. The group's been a favorite on the festival circuit, played Coachella, received multiple Pitchfork reviews and toured internationally. But finally, lead singer Alaina Moore's parents are beginning to comprehend just how big their daughter's band has become. Why?
Tennis is headlining Red Rocks this summer.
"They just got fully vaccinated, and they’re so excited," says Moore, whose parents plan to fly to Denver to celebrate their daughter's success when Tennis plays its debut show at the historic venue on June 3. "When you’re an indie band, all of your little achievements mean nothing to your parents. Even with Coachella — 'What’s that?' — it’s hard to translate all your little successes to your parents. They’re very proud of me. This is one of the few things where even they are like, 'Oh...Red Rocks!'"
It's something of an oddity that the band hasn't headlined the venue before — or even played Film on the Rocks or opened for another group. But radius clauses and conflicting dates have always gotten in the way. Even last summer, Tennis was in talks to open for Modest Mouse.
"We were so excited to have that be our first show," says Moore. "We grew up obsessed with Modest Mouse. What a thing for your inner high-schooler who never goes away."
But COVID-19 wrecked that.
Not only will headlining Red Rocks in June be the group's first time on that stage — it will also be Tennis's first time playing to a live audience since the pandemic shut down live music.
"It’s going to be the weirdest return show after the year or so of no shows," says Moore. "This will be our first show back. No pressure. Totally chill."
Even with live music shut down, Moore and husband Patrick Riley have been busy in their home studio, recording for such artists as Esmé Patterson, Down Time and the Brooklyn duo Overcoats. "It’s something I hope we can keep doing," says Moore. "It’s been a really amazing way to fulfill this last year. We’ve spent our time really meaningfully, so I’m happy about that."
Moore has also been working on writing some new songs for a future album, even though the group has yet to tour its most recent critically acclaimed album, Swimmer, which came out just before the entire live-music industry came to a halt. That tour's finally hitting the road in the fall — and since most fans have held on to their tickets, the shows are already largely sold out.
"I think we went through a tiny bit of a mourning process that that album didn’t turn into what it could have been," Moore says. "Then I felt less precious about it. I was like, we can do that again. We can write that again. We can write more, better songs and do it again. That’s the whole point. You want it to last. I was able to wrap my head around that pretty quickly."
Even so, writing new music proved tough during the lockdown.
"Spending a year mostly in isolation didn’t really fill me with a million song ideas, to be honest," she says. "It’s just started to creep back, which feels really nice."
Tennis plays Red Rocks on June 3; tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday, April 23, at AXS.
Correction: An earlier version of this story misidentified the month the concert was taking place. We regret the error.
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