By Nic Damasio
BANKS’s show at Paradise Rock Club on September 29th marked the first time Jillian Banks made her return to Boston with her future-R&B sound since opening up for The Weeknd on his US tour nearly a year ago. BANKS’s successes this year have been numerous: getting signed to the IAMSOUND label, performing at major festivals like Bonnaroo and Coachella, being named one of iTunes’s “New Artists for 2014,” and releasing her debut album Goddess.
Prior to her performance, the Aussie trio Movement kicked things off. Lead singer Jesse James Ward moved the crowd with the help of a smooth baritone and his bandmates: Lewis Wade on the keys and background vocals, and Sean Walker doling out sultry beats. In my opinion, the only responsibility of an opener is to get the crowd prepared for the main act and holding their attention. Movement had no problem accomplishing this, standing behind the word BANKS spread across five banners.
After the smoke onstage had cleared, two men took the stage. Cheering ensued and quickly soared as BANKS herself followed them on. Her opener “Before I Ever Met You”–the first track ever released on her SoundCloud– gave the audience reassurance the show would be one we would not forget. Dressed in all black, BANKS kept the performance moving, speaking to the audience very little. After performing “Alibi,” my favorite track off Goddess, BANKS uttered to the audience how much she loved Boston in her shrill yet mesmerizing voice.
Halfway through her set, BANKS slowed things down a bit. She prefaced the next track as one that she wrote and could not listen to for a year because it hurt so much. Her emotions could not only be felt through her vocals but seen as she got choked up rehashing the feelings that inspired the song. Her tears of sadness turned to tears of joy as they were met with screams from the audience admiring and saluting her vulnerability.
She ended the performance with an eloquent “Fuck tears!” that only intensified the energy of the crowd. BANKS returned the energy and love we gave with a sick trip-hop cover of Trey Songz’s “Na Na.” Energy reached its highest point and stayed there with her final performances, which included “Drowning” and “Begging for Thread.” With her encore/ ode-to-sexy track, “Stick,” BANKS finished the show strongly, graciously thanked her two bandmates, and left us begging for more “thread.”
BANKS delivered some serious art that night at the Paradise. Everything about the performance was en pointe. The lighting was minimal and changed the atmosphere just enough with its well-synchronized performance. What was most captivating about the performance was her voice, vocal range, and tone. BANKS sounds live exactly how she sounds digitally. This usually changes a person’s perspective on his or her favorite artists and creates new ones. Knowing your favorite artist is actually good at what she does creates a whole new level devotion to her.
Earlier in the night BANKS told us she was excited to be able to finally share these songs with the world after having “kept them in a box” for so long. I think I speak for everyone in the venue that night when I say I am overjoyed she did not keep them to herself.