Since NPR’s launch of their wildly popular “Tiny Desk Concerts” in 2008, more than 500 performances have been recorded from the desk of Bob Boilen, the video series’ host, in Washington D.C. Musicians hailing from all genres have performed their favorite tracks behind Boilen’s music memorabilia-covered desk.
The coronavirus has uprooted life as we know it, including the erasure of live music at venues across the globe. Nevertheless, NPR has found a way to continue bringing such beloved, intimate concerts to its 4.77 million subscribers. Through this new boost in virtual content sharing, with all of America stuck at home, “Tiny Desk (Home) Concerts” was born.
Since March, when many college students frantically fled to their hometowns and Netflix’s “Tiger King” became all the rage, over 80 artists have shared ten to 25 minutes of music from the comfort of their homes. Lacking the original interaction and commentary between NPR staff members and artists, the readapted series provides a more intimate performance for viewers, showing them the creator’s environment.
While “Tiny Desk Concert” fans truly love the quirky scene of their favorite artists performing in a cramped space decorated with records and signed tour posters, seeing a piece of a musicians life, beyond social media or an album cover, is deeply special. Buscabulla, a husband and wife musical duo from Puerto Rico, shared three songs from their debut album, “Regresa,” from the trunk of their van parked upon a serene sandy beach. Then, with a bit of help from a green screen, folk rock favorite Phoebe Bridgers performed three tracks from her latest album, “Punisher,” in a faux Oval Office.
Dirty Projectors, an ever-evolving art rock band that formed in 2002, found themselves quarantined in five separate homes throughout the early stages of the pandemic. Each of the members recorded themselves singing and playing various instruments from their respective locations and seamlessly strung each of the separate recordings together to create their cohesive performance. Through this mostly acoustic 12 minute performance, band members employed percussion assistance from household items including tea kettles and coffee containers.
Psychedelic pop band, Tame Impala, gave a groovy 15 minute performance from their in-home studio, which is decked out with multiple synthesizers and various other instruments. This groovy set was filmed on a hand-held camera, making it feel very authentic and personal.
Declan Mckenna, an up-and-coming indie rock star, played his second Tiny Desk Concert a few weeks ago. In contrast to Mckenna’s individual, acoustic debut on the show, this at home performance includes his band members and a glimpse at his more exuberant side.
World-famous pop star Billie Eilish (accompanied by her brother and co-writer Finneas) gave her home performance at what looked like the desk of Bob Boilen. The pair got a cardboard cutout identical to the shelving of Boilen’s office. Her set consisted of two recently-released singles: “my future” and “everything i wanted.”
The concerts have been a great way for artists to connect with their audiences after halting in-person performances for many months. This platform has also provided a way for viewers to still experience their favorite bands’ music. There have been a variety of other artists featured on the show in the past few months. Head to NPR’s website to check some of them out.