Thursday, September 1, 2016

Banks & Steelz | The Independent

Banks & Steelz | The Independent | Aug. 27th
RZA and Paul Banks took the stage at the Independent last Saturday under the alias, Banks and Steelz. Most of the crowd seemed unprepared for the lyrical word-smithing and sonic pounding that took place. Those few who were anticipating an all out assault were getting down. Creating tonal effects, as well as strong chord play, Banks was effortlessly crafting cool hip hop sounds throughout the show on guitar. The man behind the kit was holding it down with beats that would blend rock with the vibration of Hip Hop. RZA orchestrated from behind an electric organ. His playing was minimalistic, furthering the mood with atmospheric bass. Other times he was front and center controlling the mic with his unmistakable voice. I was hyped and it was loud as f*ck.

They were well prepared, sharp and timely (this was their fourth show). The overall energy was heavy with Hip Hop. The night kicked off with filthy snaps from the high-hats and pure MC'n. Bobby Steelz threw praise at the City by The Bay, 'Thanks San Francisco, for music...smokers and hippy energy...' Later he schwilled from a bottle of Grey Goose and passed it to the crowd to celebrate the release of, Anything But Words.

An early high point was "Ana Electronic," an edgy song that blends their two distinct styles. Ana is a love story told through clever analogies and what-I-would-do's. It also borrows a line from James Brown. The banger of the night was most definitely, "Sword In the Stone." RZA came out hot. He wasn't asking us to listen, he was straight punching us in the chest with truth-bombs. Like a boxer who learns through the experience of each fight; this concert was a battle. Bass was physically pushing through, you had to focus to pry the knowledge. It was straight fire.

Banks & Steelz | Sword In the Stone

Each of the primary contributors have found common ground to co-exist, now their talents have expanded. Experiencing RZA step out of his comfort zone was interesting. He showed guts taking chances with singing, rhyming is his thing. Paul was better suited for those types of vocal deliveries. Nonetheless, their cohesion was on point, and the willingness to take chances can breathe new life into both the creative process and the resulting art. Tracks such as, "Giant" or "Point Of View," reflect this collaborative potential. Both of the aforementioned cuts were blazing live. During Giant, Bobby Digital threw in a fresh Woody Guthrie freestyle for good measure.

Throughout the night I was fixed on RZA's capacity to make his words pierce though the gauntlet of sound. I became enamored by Banks' ability to engage the guitar as a tool for Hip Hop. Booming all night, he and the drummer balanced snappy rhythms, effects and raw power. Eleven strong-armed songs finished off the main set. They encored with the title track, "Anything But Words." Whether it's the lullaby-like intro, the digital-purr, or the no-bullshit rhyming woven into the pulse-like EKG beat, I was hooked. Hip Hop forever. 

good night
drop the mic
uber to Kabuki 
late night sushi
that shit was real
Banks & Steelz
we all have voices

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