LA Songstress Jillian BANKS has dominated the music blog scene for the last two years quickly rising to be considered an artist to watch. Her inspirational background is an open story that revolves around her own depression that started in her teenage years surrounding her parents divorce. Struggling throughout those years, BANKS grew a fascination for and majored in Psychology in college to find the connecting link of mental illness and how to overcome surviving within a situation like her own. Within those tough times, BANKS turned to making music in her bedroom, playing on a toy keyboard gifted by her mother and began writing lyrics to manifest all that she was overcoming. As her own form of catharsis deep within her sadness came a confidence that projected a bold, and strong woman that was found buried underneath her tormented, fragile and shy demeanor. For 10 years BANKS kept her music to herself as her stage fright paralyzed her from performing, and it wasn’t until her friend (and also the daughter of musician Phil Collins) quietly sent her music to some friends in the business that things began to change. With an ideal musicial collaboration between producers LiL Silva, Shlohmo, Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, and SOHN, BANKS took what she learned and manifested this into her emotionally intense songwriting. Her debut album Goddess was released on September 7th 2014 providing an official release for all the songs that have now become her fans own personal anthems over this short span of time.
To see BANKS perform live provides all that you can imagine from her record to her live performance. Beginning the show with “Before I Ever Met You” her darkness cascades over the room underneath the blood red vinyl lights that visualize upon the logoed backdrop. In a somewhat intimate and sold out room full of 900 people, BANKS showcases herself with intensity, a prowl, and an air of intimidation that gently transfixes the show under her spell. Keeping things simple, her band consists of two musicians, a drummer and guitarist/keyboardist that provide the beats of the show, and a looped track that blends in her background vocals within each whispered phrase. Every moment seems to triumph BANKS’ confidence and as the night progresses so does her stage presence which seems to come alive as the lights dim and she lurks like a gothic vampire singing comfortably in the shadows. When BANKS speaks to the crowd, everything is said in such a soft whisper that when she sweetly says to the audience how she made her album Goddess because “I believe every women is a goddess,” every single girl in the club seems to feel as if it’s the most important words they’ll hear that evening.
During the middle of the show, the song “Brain” projects her strength and becomes the greatest highlight of the night as the buildup of the track takes off with her vocals reaching the highest range possible. It’s almost as if this halfway point sets her off to soar as BANKS goes on to another level, thrashing herself wildly around the stage when the drums kick in to “This Is What It Feels Like,” “Drowning,” and “Waiting Game.” As a surprise BANKS covers rapper Trey Songz “Na Na” stripping it down with swagger and a true sensuality done in her very own way. With a mixed audience of gay and straight men scattered throughout the venue, the true overall gender of the crowd there was female. Many women were dressed up in their finest BANKS inspired witchy attire colored in black, fabrics of lace, oversized hats, and red lips. The energy of the crowd seemed to be ready and willing to sing the lyrics at any given opportunity, and when BANKS provided the chance, the audience offered everything they could singing each remembered word as if it were their own.
Overall BANKS provided an unforgettable show that will always leave an imprint as a beautiful work in progress as she gave a sincere taste of her vulnerability, and a chance to see her asshe officially takes over the world.
BANKS Setlist Paradise, Boston MA 09/29/2014
Before I Ever Met You
This Is What It Feels Like
Fuck Em Only We Know
(Trey Songz cover)
And I Drove You Crazy
Beggin For Thread