The year was 2011. It was open mic night at the BlackStar cafe in New Orleans, a weekly event dubbed Liberation Lounge. Glasses clinking against each other, musical instruments getting tuned, vocalists doing their warm-ups, and butterflies dancing in the bellies of excited performers. This open mic show was special because on that day a group of musicians came together, birthing a new band. They may not have known it back then but their lives were about to change forever. Tank And The Bangas was born. Fast forward to 2022 and the band’s performance at NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts has been viewed almost 13 million times. Their song “Quick” was picked as the winner out of 6000 entries for the NPR contest and it’s not hard to see why. The song is a masterpiece, using hard instrumentals and graphic lyrics to tell a tragic story that is all too common to young women in the Black community.
Tank And The Bangas are a New Orleans based band with Tarriona “Tank” Ball as the main vocalist, Albert Allenback on flute and saxophone, Joshua Johnson on drums, and Norman Spence on keyboard, bass, and guitar. Their style of music is hard to pin down to one genre because of their uncanny ability to blend multiple genres seamlessly. Their music is an alchemy of jazz, funk, hip-hop, soul, and spoken word.
In 2013, Tank And The Bangas dropped their debut album, “Think Tank”. This album was a chance for the band to explore and find their sound. It featured seeds of their current sound with Tank utilizing her silky smooth vocals and switching to her high-pitched rap-like vocals from time to time. On songs like “Rollercoasters” and “Human” we get the classic spoken word-inspired songs that have become one of the staples of their sound today. On “Eggs Over Easy” the band dips their toes into the classic reggae sound.
In 2019, they dropped their second studio album, “Green Balloon”. On this album, Tank and Bangas began to grow into themselves a lot more. The album is the best of everything from exploring the trap sound on songs like “Spaceships” and “Dope Girl Magic” to a more melancholic piano-driven tune like “Mr. Lion”. They recruited the legendary jazz pianist, Robert Glasper on “Lazy Daze” where Joshua Johnson’s laid-back drum beat provides the foundation for a hypnotic cascading chord progression.