Under Cargo’s yellow stage lights, Patrick Riley’s wedding ring glimmers particularly noticeably, sliding up and down the neck of his guitar as he plays. It’s almost as if he buffs it just before performing, so much does it catch the light – and he’d have good reason to, too. After all, if your band’s shtick is that you’re a married couple who bought a sailboat and then wrote your debut album during a seven-month honeymoon sailing together down the eastern seaboard of the United States, you better make sure everyone can see the damn ring. But you’d also better make sure everyone can see you’re in love with each other too, which tonight is slightly more difficult to detect.
Riley and his wife, Alaina Moore, the spit of Dirty Dancing-era Jennifer Grey in a heavy-knitted jumper and ringletted hair, are as far apart from one another as the stage will allow, and eye contact is kept to a bare minimum. There isn’t even a glimmer of fondness from Riley when Moore declares, “this one’s for Patrick” by way of introducing ‘Pigeon’, which features the affectionate refrain “I will be there / I promise to take good care of you.”
The gleaming wedding band coupled with the onstage froideur makes for awkward watching, and Tennis’ brand of simple high-school-prom make-out pop, which could be utterly charming in the hands of a more charismatic pair, sounds uncomfortably cold and jarring as a result.
By Sam Walton
Originally published in issue 30 (vol 3) of Loud And Quiet. July 2011.