Show Review

Tennyson’s first time performing in Sac was “Better than expected” ~

That’s right folks, Sacramento was better than expected for the dynamic duo, Tess and Luke Pretty, otherwise known as Tennyson. I walked into Harlow’s not knowing what to expect. The last time I came to Harlow’s was for Xavier Wolf months prior.. being back felt good. There was a relaxed energy that made me feel a content calm over my body. I was pleasantly surprised by the opener, Photay. I’ve never heard of him before until Friday night, and I truly fell in a haze of tropical, yet low vibrational beat that immediately put my high mind into a trance. I stood there thinking, “now THIS is an opener”, especially because I saw TOKiMONSTA at the Mezzanine Wednesday, and I honestly wasn’t feeling her opener too much (but she was so amazing!!!). Photay had a crisp sound and his whole heart is in his craft– it was so nice to soak in before the main act~

In the moment. Photo by Aika E.

In the moment. Photo by Aika E.

So there I was in the bathroom, and suddenly the background noise is fading off and the crowd is cheering, I am done using the laboratory and ready for it!!! As Liv has mentioned about the venue, I certainly felt the intimacy between the audience and the Pretty’s. Their sounds were astounding, and I was genuinely starry eyed the entire performance. I loved the sound, but I also heavily felt their passion and love for the music that they’ve made together, including one of the tracks where they were both in separate states but put their music together before a show! From sneezes to doorbells, yawns, the sipping of a straw, and Toad from Super Mario, the samples feel silly, random, and maybe even odd at first.. Simultaniously, they add a signature, innocent character to Tennyson’s compositions, even in more romantic, downtempo songs like “You’re Cute.” “Slipperz,” a nostalgic, endearing take on Destiny Child’s 2004 hit “Cater 2 U,” highlighted Tennyson’s ability to turn the sentimental into the playful. Lovely light clinks and clanks were sprinkled with glitchy, toy box-like beats and choppy, high-pitched vocals.

Luke feeling that ambiance. Photo by Aika E.

Luke feeling that ambiance. Photo by Aika E.

To me, Tennyson were true artists– they just simply loved their form of art, which had the electro-synth-dreamscape noise that DID take me to another realm. I felt that Tennyson was connected to a higher plains of consciousness that gave me a feeling of connectiveness alongside with them, even if I hadn’t seen them before. There was an unspoken energy stir up, that consisted of what was pure, and wholesome. Their music felt good in my soul, you know? While Tennyson’s samples may seem frivolous, they also give a sense of genuine humanity to the music. The second track, “7:00 AM,” featured the beeps of an alarm and real sounds of snoring.
With such lush production, Tennyson uses sampling to make the audience rethink and appreciate familiar, run-of-the-mill sounds. While their music is a euphoric, sonic mishmash of sounds, Tennyson’s use of silence and pauses in a live setting effectively created a sense of space and phrasing in each track.

Tess drumming with spunk. Photo by Aika E.

Tess drumming with spunk. Photo by Aika E.

The complexity of the instrumentation spoke to the musical talent of Luke and Tess. It was overwhelming to watch Luke tirelessly multitask, with his right hand improvising melodies on the keyboard and his left working nimbly on the MIDI controller to trigger various samples and sound bites. On the other side of the stage, Tess effortlessly played complex, syncopated rhythms on the electric drum kit. They glanced at each other for musical cues but also to share in their musical bliss with irrepressible smiles.

Thrashin' Tennyson. Photo by Aika E.

Thrashin’ Tennyson. Photo by Aika E.

On Sept 22nd at Harlow’s, Tennyson let the music speak for itself, not caking their performance with cheesy vocal interludes or inspirational speeches, just a number of sincere “thank-yous” – a testament to the fact that they’re still young and refreshingly unjaded. Like their music, Tennyson’s stage presence was full of charm and youthful zest, and, at the same time, elegance and poise. When Tennyson performs live, it’s hard not to recognize their raw, bright-eyed creativity.




September 25th, 2017

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