Banks - Irving Plaza - 6/4/14

Categories: Last Night

Banks560.jpg
Photos Jena Cumbo. See the full slideshow from last night's Banks show.
Better Than: Seeing teenage girls going batshit for Imagine Dragons.

"Eighteen months ago, I was making songs in my bedroom," a clearly overwhelmed Banks said to an overstuffed and overamped Irving Plaza on Wednesday night. She's probably as perplexed as anyone as to how she got there.

See also: LIVE REVIEW: Janelle Monae at Prospect Park Bandshell

Sure, over the past year she's gotten shout-outs from Ellie Goulding and Katy Perry; ample press love and a key early push from the BBC; not to mention some considerable industry muscle: she's signed to Universal subsidiary Harvest, and some of her first-ever live gigs were on a trial-by-fire stint opening for the Weeknd last fall, including a date at Radio City so forgettable this writer forgot he'd seen her there. She's also worked with some well-chosen rising hitmakers -- Sohn, Shlohmo, TEED, Lil Silva, Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs -- although they're not exactly Dr. Lukes just yet.

But apart from the contents of a pair of EPs and her craftily curated SoundCloud page, there's not one thing you can pinpoint to explain why this room was so packed with hysterical fans -- not to mention various TV bookers and Jake Gyllenhaal -- for an artist who's three months away from releasing her debut LP.

The elements of her music are disparate but surprisingly cohesive: It's got a foundation of electro-goth; a big scoop of '90s r&b (she often covers Aaliyah's "Are You That Somebody?" and sometimes Lauryn Hill's "Ex Factor"); a dash of the '70s California rock this L.A. native was presumably raised on (one of her weaker tracks has a strummy riff straight off of Best of the Doobies); and several large slices of (Fiona) Apple -- the chorus to one of her earlier songs goes, "I never knew I could be broken in so many ways."

While the musical influences come together smoothly, her stage moves are wildly schizophrenic: She's wraithlike and withdrawn one moment, aggro and oddball the next, then confident, smooth and sexy; she'll skulk across the stage, bob her head like a dunking-bird, then do some almost comical Stevie Nicksian winged-dove arm-waving. The stage is dark, and she and her two musicians (a keyboardist/guitarist and drummer) are darkly clad, so that when the lights drop down all you see is her face and arms.

Location Info

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Irving Plaza

17 Irving Place, New York, NY

Category: Music


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4 comments
harmonicait
harmonicait

@jemaswad you are one of my favorites to read! always personal but super incisive critiques. that's my goal so i read all yr stuff <3

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