Pics – Perri Cassie
Review – Alistair Rathbone
It’s been a good 2 and a half years since my first Banks experience. Mid Afternoon on the smaller stages at Sydney’s Laneway festival, and dressed all in black despite the heat, Banks was one of many promising female acts on the lineup that year – FKA Twigs, Angel Olsen, Mac Demarco’s Mum! But for the excited young hipsters that gathered to see Banks’ first Australian performance, some may have been left slightly underwhelmed. Banks clearly had an image of this on-stage persona she vowed to embody, but unfortunately a combination of the mid-afternoon time slot, a sleepy crowd and a refusal to show any skerrick of emotion, Banks’ performance fell a little short of the promise her debut album had built up.
Fast forward to 2017, and Banks has had time to mature – she’s delivered a solid follow up album in The Altar, and has been building a dedicated following around the world. In fact, she’s come so far in that short space of time that she’s sold out THE FORUM on her return!
Anticipation for the show was even larger than it was all those years ago, and I was dead keen to find out what else had changed.
THE MAIN SQUEEZE
Banks could not have made more grand of an entrance. Flanked by two dancers swathed in what appears to be flyscreen, Banks herself was veiled by some semi-transparent material, with smoke and lights creating some kind of supernatural silhouette as she seemingly floated to the front of stage.
Banks wasted no time in casting aside my pre-conceived concerns of another lack-lustre performance. Her and her twin backup dance crew launched into her set; popping, twitching and cutting to Banks’ new singles Fuck with Myself and Gemini Feed, forming an intense energy from the get-go.
Banks seemed to be enjoying herself far more than she was back in 2015 – she still pulls off the Banks ‘persona’ with aplomb, but also seems genuinely chuffed to be on stage, connecting with her fans, particularly through first album favourites like Brain and Waiting Game. Banks’ backup dancers re-appear throughout the set, adding a Bieber-esque level of flair and choreography to the show-a good thing too, given that Banks’ two man ‘backing band’ were looking thoroughly under-utilised throughout the show, other than a bizarre guitar solo moment right at the end of the show (“Here’s ya chance Dave, show ’em what ya got!”)
Banks has accumulated a swagload of hits throughout her short career, with tracks like Begging for Thread, Drowning, Trainwreck and Mind Games all receiving rapturous appreciation from the Melbourne crowd, chanting the lyrics back in unison. Banks has come a hell of a long way since her first shows a few years back, but one thing is for certain, this is only the beginning for an artist armed with the style and music to take her on to even bigger venues and bigger performances.
Deeply personal and intense, Banks slowed things down with Mind Games – no backup dancers, guitar solos or camera phones ruining the view, it was an intimate moment, with Banks exposing a raw, vulnerable side of her songwriting that often gets overlooked.
“How about you all just put away your phones for this one and be in this moment with me”
–Banks joined the ever-growing list of bands sick of seeing a wall of camera phones during her performances.