Tennyson at Petit Campus, April 13 2019

Tennyson – the brother-sister duo of Tess and Luke Tennyson took on Petit Campus touring with their newly released EP Different Water – with a tight and well executed show.

Warming up the stage was Toronto-based Young Clancy, a three man band putting on an interesting mix of live electric guitar, bass, and piano together with electronic beats. Led by Young Clancy’s clear and smooth voice, the music had a nostalgic yet fresh feel floating in between the realms of soul and contemporary R&B. A cozy blend, setting the mood for the 50 or so people seated around bar tables spread out in the small venue. The seated set-up, however, had a noticeable impact. A sense of nervousness seeped from Clancy through to the audience, due to their disarmingly respectful and quiet presence, all paying full attention to what was happening on stage. This did not influence the performance greatly, but the silence caught Young Clancy a little bit off guard in between songs, where he struggled to make connections with the audience, often resulting in some nervous ramble before moving on to the following song. Regardless, the three set a good foundation as the excitement for the main act was built up.

Time came around for Tennyson – a fresh breath of energy followed, with presence and positivity induced by the duo from the very first song. The many rice lamps hung at the back of the stage flickering in different colors in sync to the beat of the music contributed to the cozy atmosphere as the quirky samples and lush harmonies, defining the childish and playful soundscape of Tennyson, filled the roomBy this point, the audience was invited to get on their feet and move on up closer to the stage. The incredibly complex set-up for two people is show enough – Tess behind the drum set is playing a unique mix of both acoustic drums and digital pads, where drum sounds and other percussive samples are placed out differently for every song: one realizes this requires an incredible amount of practice to learn the complex rhythms of the sudden tempo switches throughout their songs. And you can tell that they’ve had time; growing up under the same roof and playing music together since childhood. The concert had a great narrative that progressed in a natural way, not a single slip or mistake to be noticed. Luke, on keys and samplers, is just as impressive live as his sister. You can see him playing chords with his right hand, triggering samples on his pads with the left, and on top of that confidently singing along to some of their more popular songs such as “Cry Bird” and “Face The Night”. The two manage to find a good way to interact with the audience too – casually talking, as if in between friends. Tess took us through her set-up, telling us anecdotes of learning next-to-impossible computer programmed drum fills that her brother made her learn, all in a loving tone between siblings – which led the ambience to be even more intimate. Luke showed off some of his gear, holding up his Ableton Push pad, demonstrating how small snippets of samples need to be precisely triggered in time to stay in sync with the tempo of the song. This part was a great moment in the show that seemed appreciated by the crowd, nicely breaking down the hierarchy between artist and audience. As a long-term fan, I was happy to get to hear some of their older gems such as “With You”, and finishing off the party with “Lay-By”Both of them stuck around on stage, talking to the small group that was gathering up front, before packing up their minivan to continue on the last couple of dates of the Different Water tour.