Modern synthpop reintroduced to Denver
BANKS at the Fillmore
California synthpop singer-songwriter BANKS returned to Denver touring her latest record, III. Her show pulled out all the stops and was a lively and memorable musical and visual experience.
As one of Denver’s larger scale venues, the 20-plus-year-old Fillmore Auditorium never fails to impress. Those who’ve never visited will likely be stunned by the size of it, especially in comparison to the modest outside appearance. The interior features a wide dance floor (that can fit a surprising amount of people) accented by 12 or so enormous hanging chandeliers. Most importantly, the Fillmore provides a quality of sound not often found in other indoor venues. This quality is consistent no matter where the listener finds themselves in the room and isn’t paralyzingly loud either. This aspect certainly suited BANKS’ style of music and performance as well.
Her opener, Kevin Garret, put forth an admirable if somewhat underwhelming set. He played some sort of high-production fusion between electronica and bedroom pop, and had showcased some serious vocal chops as well, with definite passion behind every note to songs of love and romance. His band otherwise played pretty well. Occasionally the guitar player would get the opportunity to rip into a solo David Gilmour-style, and the whole performance was clearly polished to a tee.
Despite this, the three members of the group on stage seemed largely uncomfortable for almost the entire duration of the set. None of them so much as smiled, or really seemed like they were enjoying what they were playing, accompanied by a strangely aggressive string of banter from Garrett. This could assuredly be dismissed as an unrelatedly rough, mid-tour evening for the group, and their performance otherwise impressed.
By contrast, the performance from BANKS was energetic and stunning. Simply the production alone deserved its own national tour. A nonstop and mesmerizing array of lights in colors and patterns unique to each song barraged the audience, and at least on every other tune, twin dancers joined BANKS herself in a highly choreographed spectacle. Her outfit was to die for as well; it was some sort of absurd marriage in which one side of her body sported a latex skirt and crop top while the other was some kind of all-black wedding dress. Despite this complexity, neither BANKS nor her ensemble of musicians and dancers missed a beat. On songs like “Propaganda,” she nailed every note with crystal clarity and drive.
At times, however, the show might have been a little bit too produced. While BANKS completely tore into some vocal lines here and there, other times she held back, and her backing track would stick out in the mix. Given the amount of effort it must take to play and tour a show of such grandeur, this fact is understandable, but still a bit disappointing, and ultimately detracted from the overall quality of sound.
BANKS still put on an incredible and inspiring show, and her III tour can be deemed a sure musical and performance success.