BANKS at the Hoxton, Tuesday, June 10. Rating: NNN
The last time Banks was in Toronto, she played Massey Hall in an opening slot for the Weeknd. In a couple years, she'll probably be headlining the famed venue herself.
The 25-year-old California native doesn't even have a full-length out yet (it's due this September), but she's already cultivated a massive fan following of party girls obsessed with her not-so-unique brand of sultry R&B. They screamed in anticipation within the first few coos of Waiting Game, a single off her London EP, released last fall. When her shaky voice struggled to stay afloat over the heavy, reverberating bass of her backing band, the audience sang along to every word.
When she did manage to out-sing the beats, however, Banks sounded powerful, vulnerable and heartbroken all at the same time. And she looked even more comfortable covering Aaliyah's Are You That Somebody? when she could play with coordinated dance moves.
More like a sauna that a concert venue, the Hoxton was absolutely packed. The only chance anyone shorter than 6 feet had of seeing Banks slink around the stage was to shove their way through the crowd or view the show through the glowing iPhone screens snapping away all night. But for the Banks cult, this didn't damper the night. When the show let out less than an hour after it started, many were wearing their recently purchased Banks-emblazoned baseball caps.