I did something the other night that I haven’t done since Usher went on tour with Kanye West almost 20 years ago — I attended a show that featured a lineup of nothing but pop musicians. It’s not as if I haven’t seen the occasional Katy Perry here and there, but it’s typically at a large-scale music festival with many other genres blended in. This particular evening at Marathon Music Works in Nashville, I would be checking out the legendary Banks. Banks is one of my girlfriend’s favorite musicians and she basically begged me to cover this show. Pop music isn’t something I typically gravitate towards, but I really enjoyed the samples of music I have been hearing around the house, so I decided to give the show a chance. After all, it’s never a bad thing to expand your musical horizons! Joining Banks on this date of the Serpentina Tour would be new R&B newcomer Samoht and longtime Fifth Harmony vocalist Lauren Jauregui.
Samoht kicked off the evening of music with what I can only describe as smooth, baby-making R&B.
He serenaded the crowd with a microphone covered in a bouquet of roses and the crowd screamed in delight after every song. Samoht seemed rather small on that massive stage all by himself, yet he didn’t seem phased as he paced back and forth, covering the large amount of territory and making sure to give each section of the crowd his full attention. His set was very short and the only thing I would have changed would be instead of backing tracks, maybe he should try using a full band…? I think his music would fit nicely with live instrumentals.
Lauren Jauregui is no stranger to large concert events such as this one, as she has spent most of her young life in the girl group Fifth Harmony. Personally, I have never heard any of their music, but according to my girlfriend, Lauren as a solo performer really shines. Her music was beautiful and, combined with two male dancers, it flowed similarly to performance art pieces. Each song was choreographed with slow graceful motions to fit the tempo and structure of the songs. She spoke very little to the audience, but you could tell she was mentally locked into everything she was doing.
As soon as Banks stepped onstage, a sonic wave of screams erupted behind me that left my ears ringing for days afterward.
It roared like thunder, but also had the pitch of an airplane engine. It didn’t take much time to see why the audience was so head-over-heels for this musician: her performance was similar to Lauren’s in that you could tell that a lot of time and effort went into the choreography. I didn’t really recognize any of her songs, but the consensus from all the fans around me was that she played all of her best. I didn’t really have to know any of the music for it to captivate me beyond anything I have experienced in recent memory. Banks almost glowed as she made her way down a flight of stairs positioned on the stage. We made eye contact for one brief moment and although I had almost no familiarity with her music, I felt starstruck. My girlfriend was absolutely beaming after the show and would not stop talking about how happy she was. While the show for me felt less personal, it opened my mind to new music and, without hesitation, I would most definitely see Banks in concert if I get the opportunity again.
Photography by Derek Jones