Words by Hillary Hedstrom | Photography by Bobby Talamine
The line outside of the House of Vans was long. Doors were at 7, but people had started to line up as early as 3. The BANKS show was sold out and everyone with a ticket wanted to secure their entry.
As people began to file inside, they spread out everywhere. Some went to get free Goose Island beer, some to the merch table, and some to look at the poetry. A few people made sure they were front and center for the show.
The poetry installment by Jillian Banks was an interest for most people. Her poems and drawings were printed on large sheets of crumpled paper, individually lit with colors that reflect the mood of the poem. The entire room was filled with low light and paper.
The merch table had an incredibly long line for the free “BANKS at the House of Vans” shirt that they were giving out. Next to the free shirt line was some merch for Samoht, one of the openers. They were giving out free fans because it was very hot inside.
Samoht was the very first opener for the evening. On stage, it was just him and his drummer. The microphone was hidden in a bouquet of flowers. The Brooklyn artist released his sophomore album, Exit, in June.
The second opener was billed as a surprise guest, so nobody knew who it was going to be.
BANKS’ friend, DJ Anna Lunoe, was the surprise guest. After playing a set of remixes, she began to perform songs off her album, Right Party.
The crowd was buzzing, waiting. BANKS was up next and nobody could wait. The entire space was filled. The energy in the air was electric.
Accompanied by two backup dancers, BANKS came on. They were backlit, dark figures against a bold red background. They had sharp movements, forming beautiful pictures with their bodies.
For most of the show, she was backlit. The band was hidden behind the bright lights, colored in bold hues of blue and green and red. It was a beautiful aesthetic.
For the songs that she did not have dancers on stage, she was also front-lit so the audience could see her.
She played a mix of songs from her old albums and a few newer ones. Her new album, III, came out July 12.