10 am. That’s how early people lined up to see BANKS croon into the microphone at her 2019 homecoming show. I don’t blame them.
Banks strolled onstage in a signature all-black ensemble with over-the-knee boots and took her place center-stage, flanked by two blonde dancers on either side. She thundered through her first song, ‘Til Now’, with earnest emotion, and then roared through the sultry energy of ‘Fuck With Myself’ before swaying to the delicate melodies of ‘Stroke’. In just the first three songs alone she demonstrated the vast range of her creative presence.
Banks’ vocal quivers of ‘Drowning’ fostered a more entrancing, almost religious environment that lingered throughout the rest of the show. Her vulnerability felt almost too private to watch, and it prompted a fervent sing-along from the crowd. She followed the song with an acapella recital of her poem ‘Ode To The Grey’ and a couple of songs in which her string quartet finally shined through. Oh yes, only the best for Los Angeles. “It’s my fucking home town!” she announced.
The hefty 19-song set-list painted a vivid picture of Banks’ complex artistic vision. One of the most dynamic songs she performed was ‘Alaska’. She bounced her shoulders like a ’90s rapper, exuding confidence and badass girl energy while she sang over a heavy piano riff. Another highlight of the night was ‘Better’, a heart-wrenching ode to heartbreak that saw Banks shed her dancers to minimalize her production and showcase stunning vocal emotion. “I can love you better than she can,” she pleaded, over and over again.
The show was the flawless embodiment of 21st-century music: genre-less, artistic, and bold. She delivered a powerful performance with the swagger of a rap show, the choreography of a pop stadium tour, and the light show of an EDM rave. She channelled her vulnerability through animalistic head-bangs and arm sweeps, and at times silenced the crowd with her abstract prose. Banks held the entire venue in the palm of her hand and delivered not a concert, but a full-fledged show worth remembering.