TVD Live: BANKS at
the Metro, 10/7

PHOTOS: CATIE LAFFOON | Walking up to the doors of the Metro last Tuesday to see BANKS kind of felt like it had been a longtime coming for me. I’d been following her as she put out track after track last year via Soundcloud and various other music blogs or links on Twitter. I waited patiently for her to release some inkling of an album that would help satisfy the build up that came with listening to “Warm Water” and “Before I Ever Met You” repeatedly.

I was seduced by her sexy, delicate vocals and the tight production that sounded good on every format I could get my hands on. It’s no surprise that her songs were remixed dozens of times in the year leading up to the release of Goddess last month. But all that hype came to a climax that was less than satisfying for me and according to some tweets that night, I wasn’t the only one.

BANKS came out in an outfit that I will likely spend months scouring eBay to emulate because it was just so cool. She wore trendy, black leather mules and a dress that resembled lingerie because it had a corset top and a lacy skirt, but still appropriate for a downtown art show or a fancy dinner with cocktails.

She would also take off and put back on a slim, black jacket that had slits along the front of the sleeves, creating the illusion that she was able to just rest the jacket on her shoulders without it sliding off. She strutted around the stage like it was her own personal runway, occasionally stopping on either side of the stage to do this sort of half box-step dance move while intermittently bending over to touch the hands of the her biggest fans who were constantly pushing up to the front, trying to get closer and closer to her.

It seemed like about half of the crowd was totally into her and the other half just shrugged their shoulders. Every time she said something like “wave your hands” or “bounce,” the people who were into it didn’t just join, they obeyed, while everyone else just observed, their faces stone cold but their bodies slightly swaying as if to just make sure they were still participating. There were people making out and holding up their iPhone 6s like the good millennials they are, making sure to capture every moment for their Instagram and Snapchat feeds. There were others who took the opportunity to chat during slower, softer songs like “Someone New” and “Change.”

As she made her way through the set list, it became apparent that something was working against her. I felt a slight notion of dissatisfaction settle within me after a few songs. I wanted her to just let loose and belt out some crazy notes, maybe attacking the scales up and down a la Mariah Carey, but then I realized that my expectations had been too high. BANKS, no doubt has a great voice and when she sings there’s a pain and longing behind it that is part of what reeled me into her music in the first place. But, there was something about the whole vibe of the evening that felt like there was something undone. Like a piece was missing or a cord was unplugged.

Goddess is both delicate and precisely chopped and screwed to a point that sounds ridiculously good no matter your speaker set up thanks to a strong roster of collaborations with producers like Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, SOHN, and Lil Silva. But unfortunately, this supremely sexy sound just didn’t fill the venue as crisply or seductively as it does when you listen to this music in your bedroom.

After getting through about half of the set, she said something along the lines of “my heart hurts because I’m not used to singing this.” I took this as she’s still raw from whatever heartbreak inspired the lyrics for the sad, sexy songs on Goddess. Maybe she’s just not at the point where getting through an entire show without feeling like she’s going to absolutely break down is a thing that’s far off from happening and therefore, having a prominent backing track is just necessary. I’m definitely speculating here but I can’t help but acknowledge what had been bothering me for most of the show.

Hearing songs like “Beggin’ for Thread” and “Waiting Game” brought to life was a treat regardless of a show that didn’t allow for as much spontaneity as I had hoped for. What matters is that there were a lot of people excited to be there and that BANKS has a dedicated following that will continue to sell out her shows, download her tracks, and Instagram her gorgeous face. There’s no way that one show can completely convey an artists abilities on stage, so it’s safe to say that though I wasn’t exactly feelin’ it on Tuesday, I’ll probably see BANKS again.

Goddess is now available to pre-order on vinyl and catch her on tour on the West Coast and in the UK for the remainder of this year.

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