The Bowery Ballroom
November 29, 2017
by Shiying Lu
If you are a high school student like myself, then chances are you know better than to go out to a concert on a school night, but how could I miss it? Jacob Banks Into the Wild tour was making its stop in my city—New York. Studying for that math test can wait!
Ever since a friend of mine introduced me to “Dear Simone,” a song on Jacob’s first EP–The Monologue, I have been hooked on Jacob’s voice. Now, 4 years later, Jacob Banks is signed with Interscope Records, and is in the midst of a world tour that began in Amsterdam and is ending in Stockholm in late March.
I recently had the opportunity to catch Jacob LIVE at the Bowery Ballroom on November 29th, 2017. To call his vocal presence unique is an understatement. It was truly unreal, yet he somehow made it seem elegant and effortless.
Opening artist, Bibi Borelli, kicked the show off with her “boss-ass-bitch” attitude and her catchy tunes. A personal favorite of mine was “Ballin.” Bibi’s lyrics show signs of influence from the young, broke, but hip millennial lifestyle and mentality that has become iconic over recent years. Her songwriting, delivered through her talented vocals, give off an immense sense of honesty and realness. It is something we like to think we relate to, and so we are captivated, and we jam to it. But Bibi is not the only one who has reaped the benefits for her talent in songwriting. What many people do not know is that she has written for some of the biggest names in music, from Usher to Rihanna to Selena Gomez. Shortly after making that known to the impressed crowd, she sang her last song and then it was time for Jacob.
Truth be told, the transition between the end of Bibi’s performance and the beginning ofJacob’s felt like forever. Waiting, the crowd around me swayed around to top hits being played through the speakers, enjoying their beers, chatting amongst themselves. During that time, the venue also had become noticeably more packed. As the neon “Jacob Banks” sign lit up behind the drum set, the show began.
The second Jacob’s voice ran through the venue, I knew that I was in for a good time. It is difficult to describe the power in these vocals. As cliche as this may sound, its clear that Jacob sings with heart. In the smoothness of his voice, there is an unshakable feeling of intensity that is recognizable to all who witness it. I remember standing there in the very front of the stage, listening to him while feeling the bass vibrate and run through my entire body—a moment of pure euphoria. Jacob’s interaction with the audience was relatively limited, but certainly engaging. At the end of the song “Silver Lining” from 2015’s The Paradox, Jacob encourages the crowd to sing along. Pretty soon, everyone is singing “It’s gotta be love. It’s gotta be love.” Following this, Jacob begins to sing his latest “Unknown (To You)”, to which I overhear a girl exclaim “THIS is the song I came for.” Shortly after, he begins the cover of “Say Something”, by A Great Big World. Jacob successfully makes it his own, and the product of his alterations is arguably better than the original.
In between songs, I constantly overhear people saying, “this is the best 15 dollars I have ever spent.” To that, I wholeheartedly agree. As the show comes to an end, Jacob sings one of my favorites, “Homecoming.” Little did I know that I was in for a surprise, as the famous opening riff from Childish Gambino’s “Redbone” is looped into Jacob’s song. The pair complimented each other perfectly, and I only wish I could find that version on Soundcloud now.
At some point, Jacob stops to tell a joke. It went: “What do you call Batman when he skips church?”….. “Christian Bale.” In all honesty, I still don’t get it, but maybe some of you out there do. Finishing off the show, Jacob gives flattering introductions to all his bandmates, all of who he clearly appreciates greatly. He then sings his last, and most popular song–“Chainsmoking”. (Fun fact: “Chainsmoking” was recognized by the New York Times as “One of the best songs of 2017 so far”)
Overall, this was my first time photographing at a concert, and I am so happy that I got to do it for one of my favorite artists, Jacob Banks. The Bowery Ballroom is such an intimate venue so it was not difficult to get myself right next to the stage. Being so close to Jacob Banks and watching him perform live was an amazing experience to remember. If you do not already know him, please check him out and give him a listen. Better yet, if he is stopping by your city, go ahead and see him live. Do yourself a favor, and do not let this talented artist be unknown to you.