The crowd at the packed hall jumped to their feet with applause as the house lights came on letting everyone know the show was over. Tank and the Bangas alongside Big Freedia, and backed by the band The Soul Rebels, had a different plan as they marched offstage and into the audience, leading everyone around the hall dancing onto Texas Avenue. It was a fitting end to a night and "battle" between two powerhouse voices, two expert musical groups, and two sister cities.
The Red Bull Sound Clash took over Bayou Music Center Thursday with the appropriately titled “Queens of Gulf Soul.” The event saw Houston’s own The Suffers going against New Orleans' Tank and the Bangas in a multi-round battle where the two groups got to flex their musical talents. While most sound clashes would have the groups sharing the same stage, Thursday’s show took it a step further, building a secondary stage and sandwiching the audience between the two. Tank and the Bangas performed on a New Orleans themed stage while The Suffers, flanked by two slabs in front of an aerial view of the astrodome, played directly across from them.
Tank and the Bangas performed their hits, The Suffer's hits, and more on the New Orleans stage.
Photo by Violeta Alvarez
The night opened with hosts Paul Wall and Big Freedia introducing their respective city’s bands and promising a night of surprises. While Bayou Music Center is a large venue, the stage placement made the whole show feel a lot more intimate as Kam Franklin and Tank sang each other’s praises literally and figuratively.
The evening consisted of four rounds where the groups could perform covers, sing each other’s songs, complete each other music, and perform with guest. After a quick warm up where the bands played a few of their own hits Tank & the Bangas set things off in round one with a rendition of Nirvanas Smells Like Teen Spirit
. Not to be outdone, The Suffers returned with Kam belting out Bonnie Tyler’s Total Eclipse of the Heart
As the night proceeded the crowd would turn from stage to stage while the bands went back and forth. While one band might start with one of their hit songs the opposing band, dancing to the beat, would seamlessly take over to a roar of cheers and applause. The interplay came naturally between the two groups that have expressed being such fans of each other.
Big Freedia, backed by The Soul Rebels, led the audience into the streets to dance.
Photo by Violeta Alvarez
“There are so many Suffers songs that I love,” exclaimed Tank earlier on in the week as she described getting ready for the show. “I love the fact that fans are going to get to hear us do their music. I love the fact that fans are going to get a chance to hear them do our music.”
Kam Franklin was just as excited as she spoke on the setup for the performance.
“When the opportunity came up, we immediately wanted to do it with Tank and The Bangas. We are such huge fans and we have been trying to pitch a review style show with both bands for years. Plus, Red Bull really built us the set up that we wanted. They are really giving us the stage setup of our dreams and it truly is a privilege and a blessing to be able to perform like we have for the past decade.”
While Tank & the Bangas brought out special guests The Soul Rebels, The Suffers had Paul Wall drop hosting duties to perform Drive Slow
, Lil Keke come out and led the crowd in the Southside
, and Trae finished things up with Swang
. The group ended the night with Fat Tony jumping onstage to perform Feeling Groovy
It was a great night for the two bands that have an immense love for each other. If you came as a fan of one you should have left as a fan of both. The RedBull Sound Clash hadn’t happened for a decade before it was brought back this past year and, if last night was an indication, there will hopefully be more to come from it, The Suffers and Tank and The Bangas.