Tiny Desk

Gem Club

Gem Club: Tiny Desk Concert

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/143414653/143734365" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Maybe you couldn't hear a pin drop while Gem Club played, but the music was so hushed, you could hear a keyboard click in the distance. Gem Club is Christopher Barnes, cellist Kristen Drymala and vocalist Ieva Berberian. I remember seeing the band perform amid the frenzy of CMJ, a zoo of a music festival in New York City, this past fall. After encountering one raucous band after another, the lack of electric guitar, the absence of distortion and a band bereft of a screamy singer, Gem Club seemed to make time stand still. I could just as easily have been standing next to a stream with autumn leaves floating down. Frankly, the band brought me to tears — and made one of my favorite albums of 2011, Breakers.

What's odd is that this is one of the few times we've amplified a voice at the NPR Music offices. We fed Barnes' voice through a pair of speakers because so much of what this trio does involves creating space. He needed reverb: It's not a simple enhancement, but rather a defining part of Gem Club's sound, along with the chorus-like keyboard effects. It's subtle but essential in the same way Ieva Berberian's voice is spare and occasional, and in the same way the melodic bells played by cellist Kristen Drymala are used so economically. We set up a special floor camera just to capture that moment, and though that camera rolled for Gem Club's entire performance, you'll see it only briefly. There is a preciousness to this music, and though I've heard that word to describe music in a negative way, in this case it's just right; everything played is valued. We could use some of that now and again.

Set List
  • "Animals"
  • "Breakers"
  • "252"
Credits

Michael Katzif (cameras); edited by Bob Boilen; audio by Kevin Wait; photo by Mallory Bennedict

[+] read more[-] less

More From Tiny Desk

Little Simz performs perform a Tiny Desk Concert on Jan. 23, 2017. (Claire Harbage/NPR) Claire Harbage/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Claire Harbage/NPR

Tiny Desk

Little Simz

Little Simz has been compared to Lauryn Hill for her self-reflective wordplay. And though the British lyricist is a relative new-comer, her Tiny Desk performance was poised and confident.

Agnes Obel performs perform a Tiny Desk Concert on Dec. 9, 2016. (Raquel Zaldivar/NPR) Raquel Zaldivar/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Raquel Zaldivar/NPR

Tiny Desk

Agnes Obel

Agnes Obel brings the Tiny Desk three alluring and powerful songs.

Esme Patterson performs a Tiny Desk Concert on Feb. 1, 2017. (NPR) NPR/NPR hide caption

toggle caption NPR/NPR

Tiny Desk

Esmé Patterson

Esmé Patterson has dropped the banjos and folk from her previous project Paper Bird, and in their place are electric guitars and a backing band worth getting behind.

Run the Jewels perform a Tiny Desk Concert on Jan. 12, 2017. (Claire Harbage/NPR) Claire Harbage/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Claire Harbage/NPR

Tiny Desk

Run The Jewels

Killer Mike and El-P continue to out-muse each other in a supergroup that somehow seems to get better, louder, and more pertinent since their start in 2013.

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

EL VY

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.

Back To Top