An air of mystery has surrounded R&B/pop artist BANKS since she emerged in early 2013 on a song with Lil Silva. Many assumed she was English, based on her eclectic production choices and the early love she got in the UK, but in fact, she grew up in L.A. and got her start on local label IAMSOUND with an EP titled Fall Over (it probably didn't help that she named her second EP, LONDON). Fast forward to September 2013, and she's on tour with The Weeknd. On September 9, 2014, her debut album Goddess comes out on Capitol's Harvest Records. Her ascent has been quick, to say the least.
As part of a sold-out U.S. tour, BANKS performed at Governors Ball Music Festival in New York. She told the crowd that it was only her second music festival (she played Coachella in April) and began appropriately with "Before I Ever Met You," which was the first solo song the world ever heard from her. It set the dark, scorned tone for the rest of the show, as she sang, "Before I ever met you / I never knew I could be broken in so many ways." Her pain was believable from the first note.
With all of BANKS' songs, there is this idea of being messed up by a dude but learning from the situation and coming out of it stronger. In a live setting, despite her black cloaked appearance and the hair that always covers her face, the hopefulness and newfound wisdom comes through. She made small, endearing confessions to the audience in between songs, things like "I used to be ashamed of my feelings" until she put them into music, and said encouraging messages like "I just want everyone to feel powerful. Every woman is a goddess, and every man is a f**king god."
She works hard on stage to articulate these emotions while retaining the smoothness of her voice. If there was anything wrong with the set, it was that her vocals weren't loud enough, but she yelled a little louder to compensate during the choruses of "This Is What It Feels Like," "Change," and "Goddess." When singing lyrics like the repeated "I'll change I swear," she fell to the ground and let the crowd feel her desperation. During "Goddess," she held up middle fingers while singing, "F**k with a goddess, and you get a little colder" (which is also the URL of her album pre-order). She wants you to know that she's been through it but believes in karma.
She continued with "Warm Water" before covering Aaliyah's "Are You That Somebody" and singing "Waiting Game." Sadly, she didn't perform her newest song, "Drowning." When covering "Are You That Somebody," she changed the lyrics to shout out Governors Ball and sang, "Boy you gotta watch my body / I'm not just anybody." It was a switch that would be easy to miss, but it cleverly embodies the attitude she captures lyrically and on stage. Yeah, she got hurt and was once in the dark, but from her performance at Governors Ball, it's obvious that she's emerged from the shadows to tell the tale with the benefit of hindsight.
"Are You That Somebody"