Everything is Movement: Banks at the Roseland Theater

Performing in front of a devout crowd at the Roseland Theater, Banks brought her new album Serpentina to Portland on August 8th. Words by Bren Swogger and photo by Emma Davis.

“When I’m writing music, I usually start it on the keys and get the right chord progression and the movement I want,” Banks tells the crowd. “And then, especially when it gets into the production phase, I kind of like to imagine it live… It helps me envision the movement. It helps me get into the pocket of the rhythm.”

If there’s one thing that’s clear when watching singer-songwriter Jillian Banks dominate a stage, it’s that movement is put into everything she does. From the upbeat and dynamic sounds of her music, to the way she expresses it live, everything is movement.

Performing in front of a devout crowd at Portland’s Roseland Theater, Banks came on strong with “Misunderstood” and “Meteorite”, two tracks from her latest stellar record, Serpentina. Immediately, the dynamics of the song were translated, as Banks and her two dancers—dressed like grieving widows at the funeral afterparty—exploded into a perfectly choreographed sequence.

Between both tracks, Banks moved with precision in line with her dancers, all while not missing a single note. Even as the dancers left the stage, Banks’ presence just grew larger as she threw it back to her second album, The Altar, with fan-favorite “Gemini Feed.” The upbeat synth rhythms kept the movement flowing, injecting even more energy into the crowd.

Every song felt like a click up a level, her performance hitting every mark as it continued to grow. On “F**k with Myself”, her dancers returned, crawling onto the stage like a pair of Cirque contortionists, heavy bass blasting and vibrating throughout the room.

The energy level clicks up again.

Banks’ vocal performance explodes on the non-album track “Better”. Even just alone on the mic, her vocals display incredible acrobatic movement, the song crescendoing in both emotion and sound as it grows.

Movement is everywhere, and it doesn’t seem like Banks is ever ready to slow down.

But even though Banks performs in huge dynamic displays, the beauty of her presence never falters even when that movement comes to a halt. Even in the quiet moments of introspection.

Sitting down on the stage, taking in a breath as the room screams, the constant build of energy settling and dissipating just for a moment, Banks tells the crowd:

“There are some songs that I write and I feel like I’m in a cave when I write them. I can’t even ever imagine singing them in front of anybody. Those are the songs that I usually don’t sing live… But I’m gonna do one of those right now.”

Sitting still for the first time that evening, Banks let the crowd soak in the stillness and the afterglow of the constant movement and energy she created as she softly sung the acoustic Goddess track, “Someone New”. Taking it in through the silence of the room, the raw emotion of her lyrics had a chance to shine even brighter.

Though it all stood still, Banks let her authentic self come through in a way that no perfectly choreographed performance, no dancer or light show or massive production could ever do. Sitting there on the stage, just her, a microphone and a quiet room, Banks proved that even in these moments of stillness, she can still move a crowd with honesty and emotion.

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Emma Davis
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