SXSW Music Live: Banks

Fuckery or non-fuckwithable?

There’s a certain ambiguity about Banks’ 2016 single “Fuck With Myself.” Does the Orange County native mean that she’s self-sabotaging, or is it a declaration of self-love?

Photo by David Brendan Hall

After Jillian Banks’ hourlong set at Banger’s Thursday night, we have clarification: It’s definitively the latter.

Banks only had two other noise-making personnel onstage, a drummer and producer. By now the woes of electronics-based sets engaging audiences have been firmly vetted. As such, it came as no surprise Banks had some tricks up her sleeve.

From the moment she burst forth with “Poltergeist,” she made it clear that her low growl was only part of the show. Dancers sheathed in black mesh, like a stretchy, full-body suit, flanked her at the mic, contorting and twisting like noir ballerinas. Banks, meanwhile, made her entrance dressed in a feathered bodice – their black swan. Alternating between a seductive lower vox and high falsetto, she joined in the jerky, frantic movements.

Drums added organic notes to “Drowning,” and the vocal distortions on “Gemini Feed” gave way to a high-octave belt from Banks, proving she can navigate between an electronic sphere and the unplugged side of music. For all of the flashing lights and dance moves, Banks’ voice was the literal and figurative center of the set.

Ultimately, she pulled off something few women in EDM have mastered: not letting herself get lost in the sound. Yeah, she fucks with herself.

Photo by David Brendan Hall

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Banks, SXSW, SXSW Music 2017, Jillian Banks

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