Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Saturday, February 23, 2019

BANKS delivers vulnerable fashion, powerful vocals at 9:30 Club

BANKS delivers vulnerable fashion, powerful vocals at 9:30 Club

Although BANKS’ new album “Goddess” has only been out for a month, nothing stopped loyal D.C. fans from snatching tickets to her sold-out show at 9:30 Club on Sept. 26.

Simple banners spelling her stage name in her signature typography graced the stage, but those simple banners didn’t do justice to the creative performance that ensued after openers Movement left the stage.

Jillian Rose Banks entered the stage as fiercely as a professional model. Her hair rested on her left shoulder, and a jacket covered what appeared to be a simple black body hugging dress. Without an introduction, she quickly strutted to the microphone and let the tune of “Alibi” drive her hips to the side and send the audience into a trance. During her fourth song, “This is What It Feels Like,” she surprised everyone and yelled “Hello D.C!” right before the climax of the tune, which made the crowd go absolutely crazy.

This strategic move paralleled her entire aesthetic: nothing was what it seemed. Much of the right side of her face was covered by her hair, which added to her mysterious aura, but her left side was left naked, almost vulnerable. Her band was composed of only a drummer, a guitarist and a keyboardist, yet the music felt like dozens of masters of their craft interacting with your body and soul.

This aesthetic includes a mix of sweet and simple ballads like “Someone New” and fiery songs about women being celestial beings like “Goddess.” BANKS perfectly combined the energy from both aspects of her album as she pointed her fingers and circled her hands to the more bold songs, even occasionally allowing the audience to finish the lyrics, which had no trouble doing so given that almost everyone was already screaming the songs at the top of their lungs.

What BANKS offered live was an experience to see how the songs she writes make her feel. During “Brain,” her hips swayed side-to-side, her feet stomped the stage left to right and she got down low and pointed to specific people singing, “I can see you struggling / Boy, don’t hurt your brain.”

Throughout the night, most of the crowd consisted of bodies almost involuntarily reacting to the beat and to BANKS’ attractive and infectious voice. What interrupted a continuous trance engulfed by her music was her stunning, slowed-down cover of Trey Songz’ “Na Na,” which took the audience by surprise.
Once her set was over, nobody left in hopes of an encore, and she delivered when she came back and performed “Stick,” sending the crowd into screeches.

BANKS fans entered the 9:30 Club expecting a concert, but what she delivered was an experience and a new-found appreciation for live music that might change how her fans listen to her album afterwards.

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