One of my favourite music clips to watch over and again is Tank and the Bangas when they won a spot on the Tiny Desk – their concert happened in 2017. And I saw it for the first time shortly after. And I was mesmerised.
But it’s the gift that keeps on giving.
For instance, I watched this clip three times just yesterday. I shared it in private messages with a small handful of friends. They all wrote back saying they loved it.
The band formed a decade ago, meeting at an open mic show in New Orleans. The lead singer and lyricist is Tarriona “Tank” Ball. She’s a slam poet, and here you’ll hear her as singer, rapper, performance artist and poet. She can do the big belting and the sweet balladry. And all points between. She also disappears inside a character for each song, whilst simultaneously being always and only herself.
But the thing that knocks me out is the gratitude. The emotion. The investment in this type of performance. I like to think this would win anyone over. But of course, it won’t. It’s music. There will be people that try it and don’t like it. Or can’t get past the name or just think “it’s rap, it’s crap”. (In this case, it’s actually neither).
The band has recorded albums and EPs, there are other shows I could link to – and sure, who are we kidding, in another hundred words or so I probably will – and Tarriona has recently released a volume of poetry for the printed page.
And I’m across all of it.
I love the poems. The songs. The albums. And other live clips.
But this Tiny Desk show is the one that calls me back.
My son has this thing where he’s obsessed with the idea that I never cry. He has never seen me in tears. And I don’t exactly hide my emotions. I’m very open book. Here, online and at home in my real life. People near me tend to know how I’m feeling at any given time.
Oscar says, “dad why don’t you cry?” And he says, “when will I see you cry?” And things like that.
Well, if he had been at home yesterday, he’d have seen me with tears in my eyes on the second viewing of this clip; conservatively the 150th time I’ve watched all or part of the show.
I think about what it took to make this. The confidence. The feel and flow. The failures on the way to making this – getting the fit right. Making it stick. The band’s effortlessness. The efforts by both Tarriona and her backing singer here, Anjelika “Jelly” Joseph, a lead singer in her own right, solo artist (see!)
This just fills me with the type of joy that is always so close to overwhelming. I think about what it took to get to this stage. The bullying, perhaps. The heartbreak. The trial. The error. The disappointment. That fact that it could have all fallen over, been a mess – but this unique blend really, really works.
This seems like it could be true of almost any artistic venture. Sure. But I don’t often think of that – you can’t think of that every time. Something about this particular performance just feels like the performers are opening up a portal to their very souls.
I love it.
And I can’t stop watching it. And sharing it. Returning to it.
So I wanted to share it for you today.
There is new music by Tank and The Bangas. This hooky wee single – but it’s the Tiny Desk performance that fills my heart up. That blows my mind. That is saved to a folder in my YouTube channel and high in the rotation.
What a band. What players. What a singer. What presence. A force. A star. Maybe they’ll always be bubbling under. Maybe you already know far more about them than I do. But today I wanted to celebrate and share Tank and the Bangas.
And I’ve made a wee studio highlights reel for you here.