Inside NPR

Five Tiny Desk Concerts You Have To Watch On NPR's New Roku Channel

NPR Roku App i
Denise DeBelius/NPR
NPR Roku App
Denise DeBelius/NPR

A big perk of working at NPR is front-row access to the Tiny Desk Concerts filmed at All Songs Considered host Bob Boilen's desk. They are delightful, intimate performances from artists you know and others you haven't heard before.

"But I don't work at the NPR HQ," you say? You can watch all the Tiny Desk Concerts online and in our mobile apps, though we know it just isn't quite the same as being three feet from Adele. (Trust me, working remotely from Texas and California, I experience this reality, too).

So, the NPR visuals team set out to create something that would better replicate the experience of being at Bob's desk.

You can now put NPR's Tiny Desk Concerts on your TV, in full HD, using your Roku device. The artists are a remote's-length away and the performances are beautifully filmed. The audio is lush and visceral. And real. There are mistakes, missed chords and muttered oaths. In short, it's everything you love about live music without the meticulous scripting of a concert DVD.

Below are five concerts you should go watch right now, from a fellow music lover longing to be desk-side.

Five Tiny Desk Concerts You Have To Watch On NPR's New Roku Channel

  • 1. Amanda Palmer And The Grand Theft Orchestra

    Amanda Palmer and The Grand Theft Orchestra at NPR's Tiny Desk on Sept. 17, 2012. i

    Amanda Palmer and The Grand Theft Orchestra at NPR's Tiny Desk on Sept. 17, 2012. Kainaz Amaria/NPR hide caption

    itoggle caption Kainaz Amaria/NPR
    Amanda Palmer and The Grand Theft Orchestra at NPR's Tiny Desk on Sept. 17, 2012.

    Amanda Palmer and The Grand Theft Orchestra at NPR's Tiny Desk on Sept. 17, 2012.

    Kainaz Amaria/NPR

    Amanda Palmer And The Grand Theft Orchestra was the first Tiny Desk Concert that made me realize how incredible they can be. This one was recorded at the old NPR headquarters, so the audio and video quality aren't quite as high as the others on my list, but the performance more than makes up for it. I'm not sure more energy has ever been squeezed into a small space. Palmer screams and dances and stabs the air while the band plays buckets, desks and every other surface available. Friends had recommended Amanda Palmer to me before, but this was the performance that got me hooked.

    Watch here.

  • 2. Dessa

    Dessa performs at a Tiny Desk Concert on Sept. 24, 2013. i

    Dessa performs at a Tiny Desk Concert on Sept. 24, 2013. Abbey Oldham/Abbey Oldham/NPR hide caption

    itoggle caption Abbey Oldham/Abbey Oldham/NPR
    Dessa performs at a Tiny Desk Concert on Sept. 24, 2013.

    Dessa performs at a Tiny Desk Concert on Sept. 24, 2013.

    Abbey Oldham/Abbey Oldham/NPR

    Dessa is one of two bands on this list that I had never heard before I saw them behind Bob's desk. Dessa's staccato lyrics are fluid and challenging, never faltering despite the fact that between tracks it becomes clear she is losing her voice. Each song will leave you wishing you had more time before the next to think about the words.

    Watch here.

  • 3. Preservation Hall Jazz Band

    Preservation Hall Jazz Band performs at the Tiny Desk on Dec. 3, 2013. i

    Preservation Hall Jazz Band performs at the Tiny Desk on Dec. 3, 2013. John W. Poole/John W. Poole hide caption

    itoggle caption John W. Poole/John W. Poole
    Preservation Hall Jazz Band performs at the Tiny Desk on Dec. 3, 2013.

    Preservation Hall Jazz Band performs at the Tiny Desk on Dec. 3, 2013.

    John W. Poole/John W. Poole

    I've heard endless tales of Preservation Hall Jazz Band's virtuosity, but have never been to New Orleans to see them myself. This performance opened my eyes to what I had been missing. For nearly twenty minutes Preservation Hall crowds more raw sound into the Tiny Desk than anyone else could. Watch along with the Mother Falcon Tiny Desk Concert for a couple of interesting examples of how to fit a huge band at Bob's desk.

    Watch here.

  • 4. Daughter

    Daughter performs a Tiny Desk Concert in August 2013. i

    Daughter performs a Tiny Desk Concert in August 2013. Chloe Coleman/NPR hide caption

    itoggle caption Chloe Coleman/NPR
    Daughter performs a Tiny Desk Concert in August 2013.

    Daughter performs a Tiny Desk Concert in August 2013.

    Chloe Coleman/NPR

    This is probably my favorite of all the Tiny Desk Concerts. Daughter's performance is raw, close and wrenching. I've heard many songs of heartbreak, but rarely have any of them moved me as this does.

    Watch here.

  • 5. Asaf Avidan

    Asaf Avidan at NPR Music's Tiny Desk on Feb. 18, 2014. i

    Asaf Avidan at NPR Music's Tiny Desk on Feb. 18, 2014. Jim Tuttle/NPR hide caption

    itoggle caption Jim Tuttle/NPR
    Asaf Avidan at NPR Music's Tiny Desk on Feb. 18, 2014.

    Asaf Avidan at NPR Music's Tiny Desk on Feb. 18, 2014.

    Jim Tuttle/NPR

    Asaf Avidan is my most recent Tiny Desk Concert discovery. Like Dessa, I had never heard of Avidan prior to seeing this performance. At the moment he begins to sing I was startled. The way he cracks and warbles through each track was nothing that I expected, but that's also precisely why I enjoyed it so much.

    Watch here.

These are five of my favorite Tiny Desk Concerts, but they are just a small sample of the more than 250 performances available in the new Roku channel. There is, I guarantee, something for everyone. If you have a Roku streaming player, click here to install the Tiny Desk Concert channel. If you don't, organize a watching party with a friend that does!

Let us know which concerts were your favorites in the comments.

Christopher Groskopf is a developer and project manager on the NPR Visuals team. He works remotely from Texas and California, and was the lead developer of the Tiny Desk Concert channel on the Roku streaming platform.

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