Since Banks' sophomore album The Altar was released in late September of last year, around the same time I began my first year of university, it has stuck with me through the most wildly exuberant year of my life. On my worst days I would crawl into my impossibly tiny dorm-room bed, put on "Mother Earth" and imagine the words were healing me from the inside out. So there was a kind of overwhelming exultation in watching Jillian perform it live, cathartically belting out the chorus as the violin rises and hundreds of paper hearts illuminate the entirety of the Métropolis.
That’s the vulnerable beauty of Jillian Banks. There in your hubris, there in your heartache.
When I first discovered Goddess in 2014, Banks represented a kind of ethereal confidence that I strived for. Like the kind of music you would play to appease the gods. Songs like "Brain," "Beggin For Thread" and "Waiting Game" had an essence to them that made you feel as if you were bigger than yourself. In contrast, songs like "Warm Water" and "Someone New" spoke to the singer’s fragility. It was the perfect album for a highly-sensitive teenager such as myself.
As I’ve grown since first discovering Goddess so has Jillian Banks. The Altar era has brought a new confidence, new vulnerability and an entirely new sense of divinity for the performer. Any bouts of stage fright that marked her past shows have disappeared completely and been replaced by an almost electric energy.
Banks dives right into the show opening with "Poltergeist," "Fuck With Myself," "Gemini Feed" and "Trainwreck." These songs are marked by an intense ferocity and almost-possessed choreography that you couldn’t take your eyes off of--even if you wanted to.
The middle of the show slows down as Banks opens up about her depression and signs a poem inspired by a dream about a girl named Rainwater. An intimate and uplifting performance of "Better" gets everyones spirits up before jumping into "Weaker Girl," a testament to empowerment, followed by "Mother Earth." There’s something about this part of the show as if Jillian means to say ‘I’m here, I’m real, this is where I belong.’
She regains momentum with an intoxicating performance of "Judas" and "Beggin For Thread," returning to stage with her velcro leather jacket Banks is a rockstar in the truest sense of the word.
This tour showcases Jillian Banks at her most raw, brave and honest. She is no longer a woman trying to overcome her circumstances but one who calls the shots. Every song brought a power and sense of vigor that left the crowd high and looking for more. I wish I could thank Banks for being there for me through the high times and low ones, for being so empowering in all that she does and for orchestrating a show that few will ever be able to live up to. But you don’t thank a goddess; you worship her.
Photo by Laurie-Anne Benoit