There are few things in the world that are as grounding as live music. There is a magic to live music that, in a way, forces you to be present. Whatever was going on before you step into a venue like The Varsity, and whatever is waiting for you after you step out of that venue, often cease to matter when you’re enraptured in the spell-binding magic of a live performance. For me, going to a show always puts things back into perspective. There’s life, there’s family, there’s obligations, but nights like Tuesday night at The Varsity theater with Banks and Kevin Garrett, make life just a little sweeter. The past couple weeks for me have been all about my new day job and everything that comes with that. But seeing Banks and Kevin Garrett live helped ground me back in the reality that there is more to life than just “work.” For me – that is what the true magic of a live show is – putting everything else in life on hold for a few hours, surrounded by strangers, sharing a common experience and appreciating art.
Opening up the evening, right around 8:00 was singer and songwriter Kevin Garrett. Garrett has been on my radar for a few years now, but last night was my first chance to catch him live and he did not disappoint one bit. He’s played in Minneapolis several times over the past couple years, but supporting Banks on this leg of The III Tour seemed like the perfect spot for him. Though, I have a feeling after last night, it won’t be long before we see Garrett back in the city on his own headlining tour. The Brooklyn-based artist’s set featured a mix of songs from his breakout EP Mellow Drama as well as his recent, debut full-length album Hoax. He even mixed in a cover of Billie Eilish’s When The Party’s Over which worked perfectly with Garrett’s falscetto and dreamy vocals. “The first time I played Minneapolis was the same night that Kevin Garnett got traded back to the Timberwolves or something…so it was a confusing night for everyone,” Garrett joked during his set. “A lot of Timberwolves jerseys in the crowd that night,” he went on. But the way the crowd at The Varsity was singing and swaying along to Garrett’s set – it was pretty clear they knew exactly who they were there for. Garrett’s set was absolutely captivating and one that you truly didn’t want to end.With the crowd nice and warmed up, Banks took the stage right around 9:15. The energy and anticipation in the air was bursting as the Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter took to the stage. It’s been a minute since we’ve seen Banks in the Twin Cities and it was clear her return was highly anticipated. Banks opened her set with Till Now and Underdog and was joined on stage by two dancers, which we also saw from Banks the last time she was in the Twin Cities. Banks and her dancers and bank absolutely commanded The Varsity. The crowd was singing along to every single song and the energy felt more like a Friday night, than a Tuesday night.
Banks, as an artist, has a way of absolutely pulling you into her world and you can’t really take your eyes off her. She is an artist and a performer in every sense of the word. She even sprinkled in an original poem betweens songs entitled “Ode To The Grey Zone,” which was just that – a ode to the in between. Banks so beautifully captured the space between the black and white, the known and the unknown, the coming and going. Banks beautifully encompassed multiple mediums in her set including spoken word and dancing. Musically, her set featured a mix of songs from her freshman and sophomore albums Goddess and The Altar, respectively as well as a heavy dose of songs from her most recent album III. “I was trying to think of an album name, and I hate trying to put a name to this entire season of life,” Banks said when discussing her newest album. But somehow the name of the album and the tour seem to perfectly encompass this season of life for Banks and the vulnerability she shares on the new album. Banks shined throughout her set and it’s clear that with this third album – Banks is just getting started. There is longevity to Banks and her art that is clear she will be around for years to come and we can’t wait to see what she continues to create.
Life, work, and new jobs were put on hold, even for just a few hours during Kevin Garrett and Banks – but that is sometimes that is just what you need on a Tuesday night.
Set List: Till Now / Underdog / Stroke / Drowning / Waiting Game / Contaminated / Hawaiian Mazes/ Alaska / Propaganda / Poltergeist/ Fuck With Myself / Sawzall / Better / Gemini Feed / Godless / The Fall / Gimme / Beggin for Thread