Concert Review: BANKS at REC. Festival, Rotterdam

BANKS ends The Altar Tour on a high at Rec Festival in Rotterdam
Rotterdam hosted the REC. Festival, full of electronic music, hiphop and other art forms, for the second time this year. This year they sure managed to book a pretty special headlining act. American star BANKS finished the tour supporting her second album The Altar with a show in Annabel as part of the festival. Around 11:45pm she took the stage to perform the show she has been travelling the world with for most of the year now for one last time.

Jillian Banks was actually supposed to tour two more weeks, but she announced that due to unforeseen circumstances she had to return home. Luckily the gig in Rotterdam was spared. On stage, BANKS is accompanied by a drummer, a keyboardist/guitarist and two dancers. BANKS sets the tone by starting out with the dark and deep electronic tune ‘Poltergeist’ taken from the The Altar album. Dressed in black with a hypnotizing look in her eyes, she dazzles the fans in the first few rows from the get go. The dancers are dressed in something that resembles a cocoon. From the first track on it is clear that BANKS created a dark, but polished proper pop star show.

In comparison to her shows promoting her debut record Goddess, BANKS seems more at ease on stage now. Her dance moves are off the chain and she is such a presence on stage, having her fans in the palm of her hand from start to finish. The choreography is modern and expressive, sometimes almost resembling an exorcism. She does not hold back at the start, playing some of her absolute best tracks, including the swinging electro pop of ‘Gemini Feed’ and the intense and heartbreaking ‘Waiting Game’ right away. The setlist is a well balanced mix of tracks from both albums. She dedicates ‘This Is What It Feels Like’ to all the fans that supported her from the start and album tracks like ‘Judas’ and ‘Haunt’ properly go off in a live setting. She lets the crowd sing most of ‘Beggin For Thread’, her biggest hit to date.

The sound technician was struggling the whole night to find that delicate balance between the thick, pulsing beats and Jillian’s sometimes fragile, sometimes raw vocals. At the same time BANKS seems to be suffering from a cold, coughing her way through the sparse chats between songs. On a track like ‘Mind Games’ everything fell into place with her fragile vocals in the verses filling up the room while she hits every note belting out in the chorus. On the closer of the night, the all kinds of brilliant latest single ‘Underdog’, her voice is buried under the wall of sound of the production from start to finish.

BANKS seductive and emotive mix of electronic pop and contemporary R&B comes across well in a live setting and her discography is easily strong enough to please the fans as well as to win over the festival audience. Her stage presence is hypnotic and the choreography is stunning from start the finish. If her vocals would have been more dominant in the live mix, this could have been an A+ show.


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