Black Pumas, Tank and the Bangas dazzle crowd with first virtual Homecoming performance

This year’s Homecoming concert was a unique one. With two Grammy award nominees performing and an all-virtual audience for the first time ever, headliner Black Pumas and opener Tank and the Bangas took the stage.


Hannah Kinson

Photo Illustration by Hannah Kinson

Parker Jones, Arts Reporter

Bright colors, snazzy outfits, soft lighting, and chill vibes: this year’s Homecoming concert was one to remember for several reasons.

The virtual concert, broadcasted on Scope Production’s Twitch channel, featured over two hours of interactive music and discussion by two Grammy award nominees: headliner Black Pumas and opening act Tank and the Bangas. The University of Iowa community could open their laptops on the evening of Oct. 2 for live music and Q&A sessions that occurred after the bands finished playing, where attendees could ask questions to be answered directly by the artists. 

Both groups radiated the feeling that students can connect and unwind with during these unsure and tumultuous times. 

Tank and the Bangas took the virtual stage first, performing live from the LePetit Theatre in New Orleans. The band brands themselves as a multi-genre musical group originating from New Orleans. They won the NPR Tiny Desk Contest in 2017 and were nominated for Best New Artist at this year’s Grammys. 

Their lineup included songs “Smoke.Netflix.Chill” from their 2019 album Green Balloon, and “Oh Heart” from their 2013 album Think Tank. Their sound is an entertaining combination of soul, funk, hip-hop, and spoken word. 

With a strong background in slam poetry, lead vocalist Tarriona “Tank” Ball often incorporates her poems into her music. The songs performed at the concert were no exception. 

With vibrantly colored and fashionable outfits, soft color-changing lighting, and a playful relationship with their entirely virtual audience, the performers brought a relaxing and inclusive atmosphere to the event, casually blending in their natural humor throughout. 

Next up were the Black Pumas, a psychedelic soul band based in Austin, TX, where they are led by singer-songwriter Eric Burton and lead guitarist as well as previous Grammy winner Adrian Quesada. The group was also nominated for the same Best New Artist award earlier this year at the 2020 Grammy Awards.  

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The Black Pumas’ lineup for the concert included their songs “Colors,” “Fire,” both from their 2019 album Black Pumas, and a cover of Tracy Chapman’s ‘Fast Car,’” from their 2020 deluxe version of the same album.  

Donning hats emblazoned with Hawkeyes, the band took the stage in front of twinkling gold curtains and atmospheric neon blue back-lighting. Their sound accumulated in a retro-funk R&B style, and brought a calming yet inspiring energy to the stage from a venue in Austin, Texas. Despite the empty seats before them, the band still managed to put on a fulfilling live experience. 

Their interaction with their remote audience truly made their performance stand out, and made the entire concert feel more interconnected, bringing back some of what was lost with the cancellation of in person performances. 

The concert was overall an alleviating musical event performed with soulful emotion and intention behind every note. Scope Productions did an excellent job selecting artists for this year’s Homecoming concert. Despite its virtual nature, the concert was an interactive, and an ultimately enjoyable experience.