Banks shows off artistic maturity on vibrant ‘III’ tour performance

Banks, a fomer USC psychology major, erformed songs from her album “III,” including “Till Now” and songs from her debut EP “Fall Over,” before a sold out Hollywood Palladium on Tuesday. The tour ends the singer’s two-year hiatus from music. (Photo courtesy of Caleb Griffin)

“I asked if I should wait to enter until I’m fully grown?” Banks recited a poem at her  Los Angeles tour stop, giving context to the maturity woven throughout her third studio album, “III.” Her stage presence was sophisticated, and her choreography was complicated; it’s clear that Banks is not the 24-year-old who released debut EP “Fall Over” but a full-grown star who is here to stay. 

Bank’s sold-out performance at The Hollywood Palladium was more than a concert; it was a light show, poetry slam and homecoming all in one. Amid billowing smoke, she opened the show with “Till Now.” As the sold-out room cheered for the alt-R&B singer’s entrance, she and her dancers emulated a Cirque du Soleil-esque performance. 

Dancers Allison Fletcher and Nadine Olmo cast eerie but ethereal shadows behind the singer as they moved in robotic unison during her set. The duo added depth and sex appeal to her set, complementing the amourous track “Stroke.” While performing the track she flirts with the dancers and seemingly makes out with them, much to the crowd’s approval. 

Dressed in all black with leather thigh-high boots and reveling in the cheers from her hometown of Los Angeles, Banks shifted the high energy show with a poem titled “Ode to the Gray Zone.” 

She originally posted to her Instagram in late September, and described it as an alternative name for her album but decided against it because “that’s kind of fucking pretentious,’” she said. The poem features a high-level of introspection, themes definitely not foreign for the former USC psychology major. 

Next, the singer swapped her dancers for a string quartet during the live rendition of “Contaminated.” The choice was not only a treat for her L.A. fans, but one signifying maturity in the artist; at this point, her show moved from any regular concert to a production with multiple acts. She’d given fans a peek into her homecoming, only to end it with a bang during the encore. 

With her first four songs, especially “Stroke,” she brought intense energy, perfect for opening the show. She slowed it down with her profoundly personal poem and added a serious, almost mellow tone to the set with the string quartet. And for her last two acts, she continued to shift the tone and please. 

The size of the Palladium allowed for fans to lose control during songs like “Alaska.” Her semi-soprano whispering and catchy chorus were met with swaying  hips and nodding heads. In a full house, not a single expression of movement by Banks or her fans was lost. At every angle and level, the full experience was provided and no area was too crowded to dance.

Her light show amplified during hyper-electric tracks like “The Fall” and “Gemini Feed.” Synth elements matched perfectly with the strobes of pink, red, blue and purple lights. Performers often struggle with balancing technical aspects with breathtaking vocals — Banks managed to incorporate both. 

Her “III” album and tour came after a two-year hiatus from music which ended with the single “Gimme,” released in July. During Tuesday night’s performance of the song, she recreated the video with laser light effects and choreography that seemed inspired by “Kill Bill: Volume 1.” 

Unbeknownst to fans, the track was just the beginning of the end. 

The singer began her final act of the night with “This Is What It Feels Like,” the favorite from her 2014 album “Goddess” that was previously removed from her setlist. The choice was made seemingly just for her Los Angeles show, and she then completed the homecoming with another throwback from her debut, “Beggin For Thread.” 

Banks’ show can’t be summed up in a single word. Her vocals are nontraditional but breathtaking. The attention to detail showcased in the technical elements not only complemented but heightened her artistry. With the “III” album and tour, she shows immense growth as a performer and an artist ⁠— she gave fans an experience that must be witnessed live.