9/29/14 – Paradise Rock Club

The interior of Paradise Rock Club was barely visible, lit exclusively by hazy golden lights over the stage. Australian band Movement took the stage and, in near darkness, spent the next half hour weaving an enigmatic mix of hauntingly echoing vocals and smooth bass lines. It was dark, smoky rock; the trance was punctuated solely by carefully timed flashes of white light at the climax of certain choruses. “I got you coming over and it feels like lust,” lead vocalist Lewis Wade rasped. The entire performance was an exercise of slow seduction: The crowd remained captivated until the last chords faded.

It was a perfect lead-up to BANKS, who seemed to materialize onstage amid a dim maroon glow. Wrapped in black lace with a hint of transparency, she prowled the stage during the opening number while the sensual vocals of “Before I Ever Met You” slinked into every corner of the room. Unfortunately, not every song carried as well, and her sultry voice was often drowned out by the crowd singing along. Even so, BANKS’ smoky tones and driving bass thrummed with a heart-throbbing energy. Whether by coincidence or design, the venue began to smell of incense and musk, paralleling the bruised-purples and reds that backlit her.

The dark goddess that BANKS portrays in her music videos seemed a bit more timid in person. Limited by her tight black skirt, she swayed in front of the microphone and kept to the center of the stage, her outstretched hands beseeching an unseen memory at various points during the performance. Still, the hypnosis she induced with her voice was enough to understand that her recent success has been no accident.

At one point, BANKS confessed that singing these songs in front of people felt like “baring her soul.” Indeed, to anyone who has listened to a BANKS song, the lyrics are poignantly intimate: “We’re just like magnets baby, hypnotized / Even addicted to your grumpy face / I know exactly just how many kisses fit between your eyes.” Tearing up and clasping the hands of those who reached out in the front row, she seemed nostalgic and fragile at times—searching for a connection with the crowd beyond just her voice.

While a cover of “Na Na” by Trey Songz had the crowd bobbing along—beer bottles held high—an acoustic rendition of “You Should Know Where I’m Coming From” seemed to lack the same energy. The rest of the set blended together until she finished off with fan-favorite “Begging For Thread,” infusing some much needed excitement into a crowd that had fallen into a daze. As heavy, swinging melodies fizzled out, BANKS gave a heartfelt thank you before disappearing once more into the gloom.

Dark Goddess: BANKS
  • Hauntingly beautiful vocals
  • Intimate performance
  • Awkward stage presence
  • Occasionally overpowered by crowd

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