Tiny Desk

The Decemberists

The Decemberists: Tiny Desk Concert

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/137247476/137284890" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

"I was sort of always under the impression that these things were done while everybody was just trying to work," The Decemberists' Colin Meloy says a little ways into this Tiny Desk Concert in the NPR Music offices. "I kind of like the romance of that."

The next time I'm writing on deadline while someone tunes a pipe organ seven feet away, I'll remind myself of the romance involved, but Meloy was making a different point: He wasn't expecting to be staring into dozens, if not hundreds, of rapt faces. But, setting aside the fact that his band has about a zillion hardcore fans — and that NPR headquarters are essentially a giant petri dish in which to find the highest possible concentration of Decemberists fandom — his isn't exactly a voice that's going to blend softly into the hum of the printer. For all his brainy wordplay, Meloy has become a commanding frontman.

After The Hazards of Love, The Decemberists' 2009 folk opera, I'll admit that I'd never fully appreciated the humbler rewards of this year's The King Is Dead: It's a much more straightforward collection of hooky folk-rock songs, without its predecessor's formidable cast of doomed lovers and eager guest stars. But this breezy little three-song showcase demonstrates that it shouldn't be dismissed, either. Backed by two brilliant but subtle players — Chris Funk and Nickel Creek's Sara Watkins — Meloy lets these songs sparkle for themselves. If, like me, you let The King Is Dead fade from memory too soon, you'll know what to listen to when this session is over.

Set List
  • "Down By The Water"
  • "Rox In The Box"
  • "June Hymn"

Filmed and edited by Michael Katzif; audio by Kevin Wait; photo by Mito Habe-Evans

[+] read more[-] less

More From Tiny Desk

Jun Tsuboike/NPR

Tiny Desk

Ben Folds

Performing solo, Folds performs three songs from his new album and two old favorites.

Tiny Desk Concert with Chelsea Wolfe. Ariel Zambelich/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Ariel Zambelich/NPR

Tiny Desk

Chelsea Wolfe

Wolfe takes three songs from the metallic Abyss and makes them howl by their lonesome.

Tiny Desk Concert with Car Seat Headrest. Jun Tsuboike/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Jun Tsuboike/NPR

Tiny Desk

Car Seat Headrest

Will Toledo is a wordsmith with a vision, as well as a DIY sound that's still finely crafted.

Tiny Desk Concert with EL VY. NPR hide caption

toggle caption NPR

Tiny Desk


The National's Matt Berninger and Menomena's Brent Knopf team up in an intimate setting.

Tiny Desk Concert with The Arcs. Jessica Mowery/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Jessica Mowery/NPR

Tiny Desk

The Arcs

It's our 500th show at the Tiny Desk, featuring The Black Keys' Dan Auerbach and his new band.

Tiny Desk Concert with Wolf Alice. NPR hide caption

toggle caption NPR

Tiny Desk

Wolf Alice

The band's music can be noisy and primal, but at the Tiny Desk it showed a different side.

Tiny Desk Concert with River Whyless. Jun Tsuboike/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Jun Tsuboike/NPR

Tiny Desk

River Whyless

The North Carolina band fills its rootsy music with unexpected instruments and clever ideas.

Tiny Desk Concert with Benny Sings. Morgan Walker/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Morgan Walker/NPR

Tiny Desk

Benny Sings

The Dutch singer layers R&B, jazz and pop over hip-hop beats in his first-ever U.S. appearance.

Tiny Desk Concert with Natalie Merchant Jun Tsuboike /NPR hide caption

toggle caption Jun Tsuboike /NPR

Tiny Desk

Natalie Merchant

The singer-songwriter gives a warmhearted performance of two new songs, an old favorite and a hymn.

Tiny Desk Concert with Mariachi Flor De Toloache Jun Tsuboike/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Jun Tsuboike/NPR

Tiny Desk

Mariachi Flor De Toloache

While on tour with The Arcs, the powerhouse mariachi band performs live in the NPR Music offices.

Back To Top