If You Haven’t Started Listening to Tank and the Bangas, You Should Really Get on That
By Brian Denney
When I entered the Masonic Lodge of The Hollywood Forever Cemetary to see emerging band Tank and the Bangas perform last Thursday night, I had no clue what to expect. It was just a week before the concert that I had been introduced to the innovative, genre-defying band from New Orleans through their viral Tiny Desk Concert on NPR. As I skimmed through videos of the band it seemed that each video sounded categorically different than the one before it, and, most importantly, different than anything else present in the music industry today. On the stage of the Masonic Lodge last Thursday, Tank and the Bangas demonstrated to the sold out crowd that they are different, in the absolute best possible way.
For Tank and the Bangas, 2017 has been quite the year. After beating out 6,000 entrants to win NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert contest, the group quickly became one of the NPR music program’s greatest success stories. In just six months they have become the thirteenth most viewed Tiny Desk Concert in the series’ history. Tank and the Bangas’ meteoric rise is certainly no coincidence; their landmark creativity coupled with raw talent earned them every view, share, and fan that has led to their successful year.
Opening the show at the Masonic Lodge was fellow New Orleans’ band Sweet Crude. The first two songs by the opener were fun and upbeat, but by the third song the claws had come out and the true vocal talent of lead singer Alexis Marceaux was on full display. The band’s cover of Fleetwood Mac’s The Chain gave the audience a recognizable song, while also showcasing Sweet Crude’s ability to personalize a rock classic. Singing in both French and English, the group left the audience hyped and ready for the main act.
As Tank and the Bangas prepared to take the stage, a roaring applause greeted the band. A drawn out instrumental introduction put the spotlight on the band members, including drummer Joshua Johnson, bassist Norman Spence, keyboarder Merrell Burkett, and front stage flutist Albert Allenback. By the time lead singer Tarriona “Tank” Ball had taken the stage, the crowd was wild and ready.
The set quickly hit a highlight with a performance of the band’s most recent single Quick. High in energy and with a narrative to follow, the popular song gave the audience something to sing along to. The track quickly showcased the remarkable chemistry between lead singer Tarriona “Tank” Ball and co-vocalist Anjelika “Jelly” Joseph that drove the entire performance. At times in the show, Jelly’s equally powerful vocals, glamorous stage presence, and humorous candor stole the spotlight from front woman Tank. Even with these moments, Tank took the spotlight right back, with an unmatched energy and an abundance of character that you couldn’t take your eyes off of.
As the set progressed it became apparent that Tank and the Bangas are more defined by pure artistry than any genre or style. Tank’s piercing vocals bled into quick-worded rap, which transitioned into powerful spoken word, before rounding off with the commanding singing that she started off with. From start to finish, I had no clue what the hell was happening. I’ve seen a lot of shows, but never anything quite like this.
What set the band apart was their unparalleled ability to perform. Lead singer Tank knew exactly when to interact with the audience, exactly when to pass the spotlight to her band, and exactly when to steal the moment for herself. The last time I had seen a performer with such a strong stage presence was Beyoncé during her Formation tour last summer. For seventy minutes a band who has been singing the same songs since their album was released in 2013, gave off pure emotional authenticity, as if it was their first time performing.
Tank and the Bangas ended their set with a high-energy performance of The Brady’s, a track off of their 2013 album “Think Tank”. The song sounded absolutely nothing like the recorded version, completely rearranged for the live performance. During the song, the band was completely unrestrained while the audience jumped at Tank and Jelly’s cue. It was a strong finish to an unforgettable concert.
As Tank and the Bangas round out their incredible year on tour, audiences across America owe it to themselves to check this one of a kind band out. There are no words or descriptions that can accurately summarize what this band can do with a crowd and a stage; Tank and the Bangas make music that you have to experience
Watch Tank and the Bangas incredible Tiny Desk concert below