This past Friday, I returned to the 1970s.
My visit was brief – about four and a half hours – but I traveled through the shimmering, dreamy soft rock tunes of Denver-based indie pop band Tennis.
Tennis created a 1970s sonic feel by featuring pre-show music from Hall & Oates, Minnie Riperton, Bob Welch and other artists from my favorite decade.
Led by wife and husband duo Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley, Tennis played a sold-out show to an energetic crowd of 400 at Ferndale, Mich.’s The Magic Bag, one of my favorite music venues in southeast Michigan.
In a sense, Friday’s show also served as an informal release party for Tennis’ fourth album, “Yours Unconditionally,” which dropped that day and features a 1970s-inspired pop sound. The album’s cover includes a faded close-up shot of the duo that’s reminiscent of 1970s era vinyl album covers.
During the show, Moore and Riley played six new tracks from “Yours Unconditionally,” including “In The Morning I’ll Be Better,” “Fields of Blue,” “Ladies Don’t Play Guitar,” “Matrimony,” “My Emotions Are Blinding” and “Modern Woman.”
According to a March 5 NPR Music interview, the duo wrote the album’s 10 tracks while sailing from “San Diego into the Sea of Cortez on Mexico’s coast – sleeping in shifts, with almost no cell service or contact with anyone on shore.” Moore and Riley followed a similar songwriting approach with “Cape Dory,” their 2011 debut.
While the duo may prefer to write songs in isolation, they enjoyed a second Ferndale warm welcome before a cheering crowd. Moore said the band insisted on returning to Ferndale after playing their first Detroit area show in May 2015 at The Loving Touch.
“We’ll never skip Ferndale or Detroit again,” she said.
The crowd responded with enthusiastic cheers as Tennis delved into other classic tracks from their catalog ranging from “Never Work for Free” to “Origins” to “I’m Callin’.”
Moore dazzled fans with her soothing voice, while Riley’s guitar style reminded me of a cross between The Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach and Welch.
He grooved back and forth in his own musical world while attendees soaked up every moment of the band’s sun-drenched melodies and memorable lyrics about love and relationships.
During the encore, Moore described Ferndale’s overwhelming positive reception as an “out of body experience” and thanked the crowd for another memorable night.
The band closed the show with Moore and Riley playing “Bad Girls” from the 2014 album, “Ritual in Repeat.”
Another show highlight included opener Overcoats, a female soul-folk duo comprised of New Yorkers Hana Elion and JJ Mitchell. Dressed in long sleeve white T-shirts and white pants, Overcoats quietly entered the stage and faced the crowd without uttering sound.
They opened their show with an interpretive style dance and featured lush harmonies backed by catchy electronic beats. Instantly, I was impressed with how well their voices melded together and how quickly they connected with the crowd.
My favorite track included the funky “Leave the Light On,” one of the 12 tracks from Overcoats’ debut album, “Young,” which comes out April 21.
After their set, I stopped by the merch table to talk with Elion and told her I enjoyed Overcoats’ energy on stage. It’s not often I see an emerging artist that instantly commands a crowd’s attention.
I also preordered “Young” and used the band’s Polaroid camera to take a photo of Elion and Mitchell with two fans. I laughed when one of the young fans didn’t realize she had to turn the Polaroid photo over and shake it to see it self-develop.
“Isn’t that from a song?” Mitchell asked.
Yes, “shake it like a Polaroid picture,” is a lyric from OutKast’s 2003 hit, “Hey Ya!”
I left the show that night inspired to pull out my 1970s Hall & Oates and Welch albums from my vinyl IKEA shelf at home.
I also feel the sudden urge to get a Polaroid camera now.