I hope for your sake you’ve already been jamming to NPR Music’s Tiny Desk Concerts. It was started in 2008 by some NPR guys who were annoyed about loud crowds at bar music shows. I can get on board with their irks, I always feel 100 year old at concerts when I complain about these kids with their smartphones and their constant chatter. Anywho, they created a format in which artists can perform intimate acoustics versions of their best songs. Their list of guests varies from fledglings to big names – Adele, Wu Tang Clan, Blue Man Group (?!) to name but a few.
Maybe it’s the high quality, down-to-earth performances that the setting and choice of artists only serve to enhance. I fell into a YouTube hole the other day combing the concerts for artists I admired and marvelling at the fact that I felt like I was there watching. Here, I’ll take you through my journey which has been condensed significantly for your sake. However, I strongly suggest reserving an evening to eating nachos and letting ‘up next’ do it’s thing.
The show that started it all. Lots of you have probably never heard of this guy, I only happened upon him when I googled bands similar to Fleet Foxes when I was 17. I was/am obsessed with his album, ‘Things Are Really Great Here, Sort Of…’ which is entirely comprised of The Handsome Family covers. His folky, violin infused sound matches his sweet croon down to a tee. This concert showcases his original stuff and it turns out this guy is enchanting. 1) He uses his violin as a guitar?! 2) His voice is spectacular 3) His material is intelligent and unique. Once you watch the first song who’ll be hooked on this guy. An awkward hero.
First of all WOW this girl is objectively one of the most attractive people alive, with a honey-toned voice to match. The soulful nature of her music comes out in these laid back stripped down versions of her best tracks. It always amazes me how people’s voices can sound so perfect in a live session, even after a tour or a string of concerts. Sometimes people are pretty much born with every good quality and you can’t hate them cause they’re actually really nice. I have a hunch Jorja Smith is one of those people. Highly recommend this as a backdrop to a chill hang with your pals or on your ones.
Anderson .Paak & The Free Nationals
In my opinion the best of the best, this performance is just something else. First of all, Anderson .Paak is overflowing with cheeky charm and so are his funky as hell songs. Stripped back, the blending of genres in his sound is more apparent and more amazing. He’s part of a wave of hip hop artists embracing live bands as a vehicle to add a new dimension to their music. This is great for rap as these tracks attract a wider audience than the heavily electronic stuff does. It’s also great for us, cause we get to listen to the best bits of our favourite genres blend together. Once again, I tip my hat to the cantankerous dudes that created Tiny Desk. I bet artists love this opportunity to play with their songs in a fresh way. LONG LIVE THE JAM.
Tyler, The Creator
I was sceptical that this would work. When I first heard Tyler, The Creator he kind of scared me. The early flow was intense and sweary to say the least and to me the lack of funkiness in his tracks irked me. This changed when I saw him live at Best Kept Secret. He came on in a hi-vis vest (?!) and no stage set (apparently “left behind at the last place”). He freakin KILLED IT. Any artist who doesn’t need a bunch of crazy shit going on in the background to ignite a crowd deserves respect. His personality comes out in his Tiny Desk performance, he even points out a member of the crowd and says, “You done sang every lyric. I appreciate you and your existence.” Two harmonising angels, a chilla with a double bass, a big cymbal and a keyboard accompany him and that’s all he needs. I wanna jam with him, and you will too.
Happy YouTubin’ (I am not sponsered by YouTube™)