Writer Oliva Marrins shares the greatest Tiny Desk concerts, from their home to yours.
How can we enjoy live music now? Generations left lost without a mosh pit, the electricity of the crowd, or pint of suspicious smelling “beer” thrown towards them; was it even worth experiencing a concert via YouTube? The introduction of the National Public Radio’s Tiny Desk (Home) Concert series has perhaps answered this, giving viewers the opportunity to see their favourite artists perform a stripped-back set from their home, ideal to experience from the comfort of your own bed or sofa. Think: a socially distanced, dystopian MTV Unplugged.
So, whenever you next have a moment, grab your headphones and simply type “Tiny Desk Home Concerts” into YouTube to immerse yourself in the ultimate at-home concert.
Tame Impala Soundsystem was the self-elected alternative title for the band’s home show, immediately capturing the psychedelic essence of the solo music project that is woven into the top tracks of Impala’s latest album The Slow Rush. Composed of just three sets in Kevin Parker’s Australia-based home studio, the performing band were able to deliver the ultimate front row experience Parker claims they’ve “wanted to do […] for a while”. The band’s long-awaited Tiny Desk debut was destined to reach our number one spot from the sheer individual creativity of Parker, bringing the sounds of his solo studio to life with two other musicians. Breathe Deeper, Is It True and their psych-disco tune Patience will have you transported to the front row of their 2019 Glastonbury set with their breezy mind-altering sounds.
Ahead of their spring album Women in Music Pt III, Haim sisters Este, Danielle, and Alana unite while self-isolating from their separate LA homes in three different screens to bring you their Tiny Desk set. Accompanied by a (fourth screen) saxist on Joni Mitchell-esque track Summer Girl, Haim’s home concert brought the west coast feeling straight to our screens. Despite recording each section from different households, the Haim girls seamlessly create an authentic set, giving fans a glimpse into their upcoming album and perhaps the future of socially distanced music.
Playing three songs from her latest album Cheap Queen, King Princess brings us her home concert from the comfort of her joggers and sofa; a setup reflecting her viewer! Filmed by her partner in Hawaii; King Princess, two guitars, and a keyboard were all that was needed to capture this intimate and effortless recording. Typically full of energy and dancing on stage, this set provided a refreshing insight to KP’s true vocal and musical talent, especially on the ex-longing opening track Isabel’s Moment.
A soulful treat would be one of the only ways to describe the set list of Norah Jones at the Tiny Desk. Recorded solo from Jones’ music room; the blend of Jones’ soft voice and accompanying piano was a delightful expression of her somewhat angelic talent. After stumbling across Norah Jones earlier in lockdown through Spotify radio, I was eager to hear her take on the Tiny Desk (Home) Concert. A selection of songs from Norah’s seventh record provided a moment of tranquillity and reflection during a time of great uncertainty and disruption. Perhaps the most comforting of the Tiny Desk bunch.
Declan McKenna Three years after the release of his debut album What Do You Think About The Car? Declan McKenna took to the Tiny Desk (Home) Concert with three tunes from new album Zeros. McKenna and his accompanying band bring us a refreshingly energetic, glam-rock set. Perhaps slightly more glamorous than how audiences have seen McKenna in the past; the glitter and fringes made the 21-year-old’s second Tiny Desk appearance better than his first. Ending on catchy yet equally political anthem Brazil, written at 16, with the singer atop a literal tiny desk in the room, McKenna makes it clear his youthful attitude remains unchanged.