Let’s slow down for a second and consider that, as of this moment, Banks doesn’t even have an album out yet. She technically has two EPs, both of which were released primarily (for free) on Soundcloud. Her output is modest, but the impact… Well, she’s selling out venues with an EP and a half, some singles, and an Aaliyah cover. That really says it all.

The crowd at Banks’ show at El Rey Theatre last week was about what you’d expect. As we waited for the show to start, young women darted around determinedly while the house DJ spun The Weeknd’s “Wicked Games.” Fitting he’d play that, considering Banks toured with The Weeknd last year. The two really do go together like crop-tops and high-waisted jeans.

On the whole, though, the crowd looked similar to Banks herself. Most of the guys I saw weren’t just glorified purse holders either; they were fans. You haven’t lived until you’ve heard a small chorus of bros belting out, “Boy, don’t hurt your brain.”

Photography by Waioli Shannon

Banks was on form throughout the set. Her performance exhibited a confidence that wasn’t there a few months back at Coachella. Maybe it was just the venue or the vibe, but she sounded great and looked great. With all of her shade and mystery, Banks finally seems to be warming up, though you’d never really know it from just looking at the pictures.

She wears no sequins, she bears no chains, no colors, so, yes, the self-effacing personality that made her so interesting to follow as she was coming up is still intact. Frequently during the show she would retreat to the rear of the stage and out of the spotlight, letting the music take the focus, but I say give her a year before she’s descending from the ceiling with fireworks and a small army of moody percussionists.

My favorite song of the night was “Fall Over.” Even if it’s not her most catchy song, I think it’s the best showcase for her voice. The sassy chorus of “Brain,” the haunting background cries in “Goddess,” and the pained warble of “Bedroom Wall” all had a way of staying in my head days after the show ended. Hell, my neighbors have been playing “Goddess” on repeat for the last three days. I don’t even think they went.


All in all, it was great show for Banks. Easily the best that I’ve seen from her so far, and I’m only half-joking about those fireworks.

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