Tennis & Molly Burch
Stubb’s Waller Amphitheater
by Phillip Johnson
It was a mild Saturday night at a packed Stubb’s Waller Amphitheater. The crowd came out for an electric night of dream-pop courtesy of local songstress Molly Burch and headliner, Tennis, who is touring in support of their latest release “Swimmer”, which dropped in 2020.
Molly Burch, an Austin native, has built herself quite the following in her home city and is now taking it nationally on tour with Tennis. Her vocal styling reminded me a lot of Joss Stone with so much heart and soul behind the lyrics. She had a very smoky, melancholy to her voice as she navigated through her tales of heartbreak and yearning. Her songs seemed like they were written for a last dance with a love you knew you were going to let go.
The crowd was seemingly made up of a lot of friends and family with the amount of cheering that resonated through her effortless performance. One of the highlight’s of her set was her cover of Ariana Grande’s “Needy”, which drove the crowd to a mild dance party.
Hailing from Denver, Colorado, Tennis is the duo made up of Alaina Ford and husband Patrick Riley. The beginning of their set was made up of dark lights and silhouettes making their way to their spots. Then a bright blue light highlighted Ford’s silhouette at their piano (which was purchased at a garage sale for $45). Thus began their opener, “I’ll Haunt You”, which was indeed a haunting ballad, which featured ethereal verses and a background foundation that complimented the simplicity of Ford’s vocals.
The entire band definitely had a vintage, chic look for them, as evidence by Ford’s floor length, shimmering gown, and Riley’s houndstooth-like blazer and white turtleneck. The energy turned up with tracks like “No Exit” which had a throwback, 80’s synth-pop vibe and “Need Your Love” with excellent contrasts between the beginning rock/jazz verses to the slower soulful chorus. The differences in their ballads versus their more funky tracks definitely showed their range and playful pop sensibility
Tennis has a soft spot for Austin. During their last tour, they encountered their fair share of pitfalls, with the largest being Patrick’s father passing away. Feeling defeated and wondering if the rest of the tour was worth it, they knew if they made it to Austin (Emo’s, to be more specific) they would get over that hill. They expressed their gratitude as the Austin crowd truly showed their love in such a difficult time. This was the precursor to the heartfelt track “Origins”.
The dream-pop genre has certainly made waves over the years. With artists such as Beach House, the XX, and recently, Billie Eilish as hugely popular young newcomer. Tennis and Molly Burch certainly are making their mark in this group as well and the rest of the country is about to see what all the buzz is about. See our complete show photo gallery on Austin 101.