Tank and the Bangas @ Neumos

Shake off the sads 🕺

📸: Courtesy Tank and the Bangas

Sunday, March 19th • 7 pm

Here’s a way to shake off the winter sads and warm your body up for spring: a Seattle visit from New Orleans hip hop/fusion/spoken word/horny group Tank and the Bangas. Their whole vibe—costumes, set decorations, and horn section included—is like that of high-on-life musical guests on your favorite children’s variety show. 

For anyone who scored tickets before it sold out, this will likely be one of those future bragging rights shows (kinda like anyone who saw Lizzo at the old Crocodile in early 2017), as their decade of persistence has them riding the cusp of breaking all the way through. Formed in 2011, they were named the 2017 winners of NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert; have two Grammy nominations (in 2020 in the Best New Artist category and again in 2023 for Best Progressive R&B Album for Red Balloon) under their belt; and have recently achieved Tik Tok virality. On “DM Pretty,” Tarriona “Tank” Ball changes the meaning of the lines, “this boy be in my DM say I’m pretty/this boy be in my DM say I’m pretty” through her intonation from verse to verse. The effect emphasizes how that can be either a welcome or unwelcome intrusion—depending on the time of night it’s sent. 

Their albums follow the tradition of hip hop concept albums, with 2019’s Green Balloon album an exercise in vulnerability that flows through various associations to the color green. 2022’s Red Balloon starts with an Intro by actor and improv show Whose Line Is It? regular Wayne Brady and includes shorter banger interludes like “Big” with New Orleans bounce music rapper Big Freedia. Written during 2020 and featuring nearly 30 artists, associations with red range across the spectrum from love to rage. 

I knew nothing about Tank and the Bangas when a friend had an extra ticket for their October 2019 show at the Neptune. 🤞 you have a friend like that, too! 

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An author pic for Katie Kurtz. She wears large rectangular glasses and has a black blouse on.

Katie Kurtz

Katie Kurtz grew up in Seattle and has been writing about West Coast art and culture since the early ’90s. When she’s not lamenting the loss of her teenaged haunts, she can be found playing pinball, losing cell phone service in the woods, or surfing microfiche as one of Seattle Public Library’s 2023 writers-in-residence.