Tank and the Bangas' "Green Balloon" Lets the Voices in Her Head Have Their Say

Tank and the Bangas treated their Jazz Fest set earlier this month as an album-release party for Green Balloon, their debut album on Verve Forecast. They had green balloons onstage, dancers in green, and vocalist Tarriona “Tank” Ball in a green cape with green chopsticks in her hair. They leaned heavily if not entirely on the album, which features Ball riding psychedelic jazz/funk grooves.

What's the Forecast for Tank and the Bangas' "Green Balloon"?

The NPR Tiny Desk Contest win has paid off for Tank and the Bangas. It’s a platform that doesn’t guarantee success, but it says something that the YouTube video of their Tiny Desk Concert/victory lap is easily the most viewed of those by the winners of NPR Music’s national unsigned artist talent search.

Tank and the Bangas Access The Body

This year, Tank and the Bangas moved audiences and moved bodies more consistently than most performers in New Orleans. They have catapulted to a new level of stardom following their NPR Tiny Desk Competition win, and their sets have become both more chaotic and more tightly rehearsed, but with an energy that keeps the audience constantly and almost involuntarily dancing.

Tank and the Bangas Are Right Band, Right Time

Tank and the Bangas have become one of the best stories in New Orleans music. Their growth as artists and performers has been steady, and success hasn’t come at the cost of their nerve. Instead of remaking “Walmart” again and again or—worse—simplifying their songs to make them more conventional, they’ve asked more of their audiences instead of less.

Jazz Fest: Tank and The Bangas Contain Multitudes

Friday at Jazz Fest was a lesson in context. I went into the day excited to see Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, but after an afternoon that included Fiend, 3D Na’Tee, Tank and The Bangas, and Jupiter & Okwess from the Congo, a dude with carefully crafted country(ish) songs didn’t fit the day’s flavor profile. The musical and lyrical clarity in his songs were also at odds with the sometimes gnarly music I got from Tank and Jupiter. 

Jazz Fest: The Second Friday at the Fest and at Night

For me, the stretch from 12:25 to 5:25 p.m. Friday is what makes a good Jazz Fest. During that stretch, I hope to see part of the New Orleans Hip-Hop Experience (particularly Fiend and 3D Natee), Lil’ Buck Sinegal with Barbara Lynn, The Nth Power, Tank and the Bangas, Jupiter & Okwess, 79rs Gang, Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, and The Soul Rebels.

Jazz Fest: Friday's Best at the Fair Grounds and the Clubs

Friday’s schedule is typical of this year’s Jazz Fest. There’s a lot to see, but it’s not obvious where everybody will be, nor is it obvious who people should see. Among the headliners, Sturgill Simpson is far more relevant in 2018 than Sting or Steel Pulse, but Jazz Fest doesn’t usually put a premium on relevance. After Hamilton, Leslie Odom Jr. may matter more right now than all three.

Aerosmith, David Byrne, Jack White Top the Jazz Fest Lineup

When the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival presented by Shell returns April 27 to the Fair Grounds, it will be with Aerosmith, Aretha Franklin, Sting, Jimmy Buffett and his Acoustic Airmen, Jack White, Beck, Lionel Richie, David Byrne, Anita Baker, Bonnie Raitt, Khalid, Sturgill Simpson, Jack Johnson, Sheryl Crow, Common, and Cage the Elephant atop the lineup. Some of those aren’t news.

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