At Pickathon in August I was blessed with the opportunity to see New Orleans’ Tank and the Bangas, whose exciting and dynamic sound knows no bounds. They’re masters of funk, jazz, R&B, and soul, but often allow their music to explore elements of rock, folk, gospel, and hip-hop via spoken word.
The group’s pint-sized, big-haired frontwoman is Tarriona “Tank” Ball, a highly skilled powerhouse singer who doubles as a slam poet and often surprises even herself with the sounds that come out of her mouth. With backing vocals by Anjelika “Jelly” Joseph, the pair have mad chemistry as they lead the group’s well-oiled machine alongside flautist Albert Allenback, drummer Joshua Johnson, keyboardist/bassist Norman Spence, and keyboardist Merell Burkett. Onstage the group fuses for a quirky, New Orleans-flavored jam session that, if I had my way, would go on forever.
This year Tank and the Bangas won NPR’s Tiny Desk Contest, signaling their rise to mainstream stardom. Just watch videos and performances of songs like “Quick,” “Rollercoasters,” and “The Rhythm of Life” if you don’t believe me. After seeing Tank and the Bangas’ invigorating live set turn a lawn full of Portlanders into a jumping, clapping, sweaty dance party, I knew I’d be snatching up every chance to see them again.