ACL Review: Tank & the Bangas

Mardi Gras in Zilker Park!

Tank & the Bangas reside in a musical league of their own. Despite a sleepy, overcast 11:45am Sunday time slot, vocalist Tarriona “Tank” Ball, backing band the Bangas, and backup singers the Grenades set the bar impossibly high for every band following their set, seasoned headliners included.

Photo by David Brendan Hall

Attention showered down on the New Orleans act only earlier this year after they beat out 6,000 entries to win NPR’s Tiny Desk Contest. Even so, the group’s live show already feels like T&TB is made up of established, bona fide musical superstars.

As the too-short but celebratory 45-minute set on the HomeAway stage unfolded, Crescent City influence spilled from the band’s explosive fusion of soul singing, hip-hop beats, jazzy improvisation, and bright, neon outfits. The party atmosphere their hometown is world famous for bubbled like lava. Bell and company happily fed off the crowd’s excitement.

The city’s history, vibrancy, and resilience felt palpable in the wail of the dueling saxophones, double keys, roaring drums, funky basslines, and the fact that the music rarely stopped.

Tank & the Bangas haven’t released any studio work since 2013, so the set relied not on the audience’s familiarity, but rather on presentation, although high-energy fan favorite “Quick” yielded shrieks. Bell served as conductor of a colorful, boisterous orchestra, alternating between spitting out rapid-fire verses and a wavering croon. Her booming, soulful voice channeled Jill Scott, and the Grenades’ harmonic backing hit all the hair-rising high notes.

Party brought, the audience participated eagerly. Bell led the assembled mass in synchronized, side-to-side two-steps, swaying and jumping up and down. After prolonged applause and hollering as the band left the stage, the recurring refrain among the crowd was uniform: “That was really something else.”

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Tank & the Bangas, ACL Fest 2017, Tarriona Ball, the Grenades, NPR, Tiny Desk Concert

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