10 Tiny Desk Concerts That You Need to Check Out


This piece was originally entitled “The 5 NPR Tiny Desk Concerts You Need To Check Out” but eventually, I had found so many good ones that I reached a point at which I could not narrow it down any further; hence, “The 10 NPR Tiny Desk Concerts You Need To Check Out.”  

So, what exactly are Tiny Desk Concerts?  According to the NPR website, Tiny Desk Concerts are “intimate video performances, recorded live at the desk of All Songs Considered host Bob Boilen”.  That description really gets at the essence of Tiny Desk Concerts, for me at least; the Concerts are an opportunity to see an artist or artists in a live but extremely casual setting, a chance, it would seem, to get to know them on a more personal level than listening to them on your iPod or even seeing them live in a less intimate setting.  Over the years, Tiny Desk Concerts have introduced me to incredible artists that I never would have discovered had it not been for NPR and Bob Boilen.  I hope that you have the same experience and enjoy these next 10 videos as much as I do.

10. [button color="blue" size="large" url="http://www.npr.org/event/music/179248184/father-figures-tiny-desk-concert?autoplay=true" target="_blank" ]Father Figures[/button]

Make sure your speakers are at full volume for this one.  Bob Boilen describes Father Figures in the best way possible; “brash, zany, brainy, scary and danceable”.  I really have no idea what I am listening to when I listen to Father Figures, but it is definitely overwhelming and I definitely love it.


9. [button color="orange" size="large" url="http://www.npr.org/event/music/245218626/john-legend-tiny-desk-concert?autoplay=true" target="_blank" ]John Legend[/button]

John Legend never disappoints me.  As soon as I saw that he had a Tiny Desk Concert, I knew that I was going to love it and that it was going to be included on this list.  What is there to say about Legend that has not yet been said?  In this casual, intimate setting Legend is overwhelmingly charming and seems to be absolutely at home--connecting with each member of the audience, all the while playing along flawlessly on piano.


8. [button color="blue" size="large" url="http://www.npr.org/2009/10/10/113641457/rodrigo-y-gabriela-tiny-desk-concert" target="_blank" ]Rodrigo y Gabriela[/button]

Rodrigo y Gabriela can be described only as a force of creativity, passion and raw talent.  The matchup of Gabriela’s aggressive strums and Rodrigo’s captivating riffs is one of no comparison.  Absolutely stunning.


7. [button color="orange" size="large" url="http://www.npr.org/event/music/321681133/eliot-fisk-and-paco-pe-a-tiny-desk-concert?autoplay=true" target="_self" ]Eliot Fisk and Paco Pena[/button]

These guys.  This is exactly why I love Tiny Desk Concerts because, seriously, under what other circumstances would I come into contact with Eliot Fisk and Paco Peña than right here, with NPR helping me along?  I always wonder if they mess up, and even if they did, would I know?  Every note, every riff, every chord sounds purposeful and beautiful that I cannot imagine that these two ever do not sound absolutely perfect.  Make sure to watch until the Bach piece--it is awesome!


6. [button color="blue" size="large" url="http://www.npr.org/event/music/167447820/alt-j-tiny-desk-concert?autoplay=true" target="_blank" ]Alt-J[/button]

Alt-J has this rich sound that is characterized by strong piano chords, consistent underlying rhythms, and grungy, though rich and beautiful vocals that draw you in and make you never want to hear anything else more.  This Tiny Desk Concert showcases Alt-J’s presence live and their knack for captivating the listener.  Awesome awesome concert.


5. [button color="orange" size="large" url="http://www.npr.org/event/music/153988209/patrick-watson-tiny-desk-concert?autoplay=true" target="_blank" ]Patrick Watson[/button]

Patrick Watson is simply captivating.  After the initial croons, I was definitely not expecting the charging beat and accompaniment to join him but I am so glad it did.  Completely unexpected and unbelievably enthralling.  I really enjoyed every minute of this Tiny Desk Concert.


4. [button color="blue" size="large" url="http://www.npr.org/event/music/323956427/mali-music-tiny-desk-concert?autoplay=true" target="_blank" ]Mali Music[/button]

I could not help but bob my head along with Mali Music in this Tiny Desk Concert.  With strong beats in the background and his bright vocals, Mali Music vibes really wellis so vibeable.  I can imagine everyone surrounding the Desk bopping along just as I am right now.  Mali Music’s acoustics are just as sick as his produced songs.  Love it!


3. [button color="orange" size="large" url="http://www.npr.org/event/music/155311057/reggie-watts-tiny-desk-concert?autoplay=true" target="_blank" ]Watts[/button]

What a goofy guy.  I clicked on this Tiny Desk Concert for the hair and stayed for the ingenuity.  Each of the pieces Watts performed at NPR was completely spontaneous and improvised.  He uses loops and only his voice to achieve the web of sounds that makes his pieces so unique.


2. [button color="blue" size="large" url="http://www.npr.org/event/music/153001938/yann-tiersen-tiny-desk-concert?autoplay=true" target="_blank" ]Tiersen[/button]

This Tiny Desk Concert is one that I saw and just had to check out.  As you will soon see, Tiersen is an unbelievably talented musician, artist and composer who builds each piece through layers from one core sound (here, the initial violin) to a beautifully intricate piece showcasing his undeniable gift.  This performance is stunning, absolutely stunning.


1. [button color="orange" size="large" url="http://www.npr.org/event/music/240730576/typhoon-tiny-desk-concert?autoplay=true" target="_blank" ]Typhoon[/button]

I had to save #1 for Typhoon, a massive group of incredibly talented musicians that was the reason I decided I had to do this list.  Layers of clapping, solo vocals, guitar, female vocals and practically any instrument you can imagine make up Typhoon’s sound.  The first time I heard them, I was absolutely floored.  Everything fits in its place perfectly and I wonder what their process of creating is like--maybe they just sit in a room filled with instruments and do what sounds right and write it down.  Whatever the process, the end is undeniably fantastic.


I certainly hope you enjoyed this journey as much as I did.  If you liked any, most, or none at all of the Tiny Desk Concerts I posted here I hope you go check out some more.

What We ThinkMorgan Klein