BIG EARS
Tank and the Bangas

Tank and the Bangas

This ebullient quintet from New Orleans formed back in 2011 at an open mike night at Liberation Lounge.  Singer Tarriona “Tank” Ball had been plugging away on the poetry slam scene for years where she’d increasingly felt limited by the context of 10-minute sets and decided her work would resonate more in a musical context. From the start Tank and the Bangas ignored any concern for stylistic purity, forging a gritty blend of R&B, hip-hop, funk, and spoken word that earned them a devoted audience in their music-obsessed hometown. The group was admittedly not too concerned about the business part of the music world, so it took nearly six years before the combo got its lucky break, winning the 2017 edition of NPR’s Tiny Desk Contest. The luck was in being selected to compete, as the program had received more than 6,000 entries. But once the group settled in between the desks and bookshelves on the makeshift set, its music took over and suddenly they had an audience to match the music.

That performance has since racked up more than 13 million views, and it led to a recording contract with Verve Forecast Records, which released the group’s second album Green Balloon in 2019, leading to a Grammy nomination for Best New Artist the following year. As with countless musicians silenced by the pandemic, they were eager to get back into the studio and out on the road. The group decamped to California to cut the  latest album Red Balloon, which they made at Earth, Wind & Fire’s recording studio. They were joined by an eye-popping roll call of guest musicians including Lalah Hathaway, Jacob Collier, Trombone Shorty, and Big Freedia, but they weren’t cowed by the help. Tank and the Bangas have never sounded more self-assured and relaxed.

As Ben Jardine put it in Under the Radar, “The result is suredly the group’s magnum opus, with songs that deal with anxiety, vulnerability, Black life, community, technology and our modern world, and climate change. Woven throughout are light touches, humor, and Ball’s incredible delivery, her voice taking on different character qualities.”

BIG EARS
Knoxville, TN · USA

Purchase Passes Now DONATE

Festival

Explore the lineup of upcoming Big Ears performances.

Overview

Lineup

Passes

Hotel

Archive

Explore

Discover travel, lodging, & dining options to enhance your festival experience.

Knoxville

Travel

Things To Do

Venues

FAQ

Support

Big Ears is made possible by the passion & generosity of our supporters.

Donate

Partners

Merchandise

Community

The passion & generosity of our community makes Big Ears possible.

Scholarship

Volunteer

Parade

City Songs

About

Learn more about what The New York Times calls “one of the world’s greatest music bashes.”

Who We Are

News

Press

Staff

Contact