Tiny Desk

Yo La Tengo

Yo La Tengo: Tiny Desk Concert

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/176905752/176905782" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

It's not often that someone on the NPR Music team gets to see his or her favorite band perform a Tiny Desk Concert. After all, you can only have one favorite band, and NPR Music supports a staff of about 20; that means that, of the 250-plus Tiny Desk Concerts we've produced, fewer than 10 percent could possibly have qualified for favorite-band status.

All of which is to say that my favorite band, Yo La Tengo, actually played a Tiny Desk Concert. For those who aren't familiar with the Hoboken trio, Yo La Tengo's members — guitarist Ira Kaplan, drummer Georgia Hubley and bassist James McNew — have been doing their own thing (which, granted, can sometimes sound like The Velvet Underground) for more than 20 years. The band epitomizes, sheepishly, why so many were drawn to indie rock in the 1990s: the casual resolve to be yourself and let everything else sort itself out.

The Yo La Tengo sound has evolved quite a bit since Hubley and Kaplan first jammed together in 1984; the feedback has subsided as they've grown older, replaced by a more contemplative vibe. The release of the band's 13th album, Fade, earlier this year marked a natural time to invite Yo La Tengo behind Bob Boilen's desk for an acoustic set.

Set List

  • "Is That Enough"
  • "Tears Are In Your Eyes"
  • "Ohm"

Credits

Producer: Otis Hart; Editor: Denise DeBelius; Audio Engineer: Kevin Wait; Videographers: Lizzie Chen, Denise DeBelius, Gabriella Garcia-Pardo; photo by Marie McGrory/NPR

[+] read more[-] less

More From Tiny Desk

Holly Macve performs a Tiny Desk Concert on May 5, 2017. (Claire Harbage/NPR) Claire Harbage/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Claire Harbage/NPR

Tiny Desk

Holly Macve

Backed by a suitably low-key band, Macve would sound subtly radiant just about anywhere, from your nearest country bar to the most dreamily lit stage in Twin Peaks.

Tigers Jaw performs at NPR's Tiny Desk on May 19, 2017. (Raquel Zaldivar/NPR) Raquel Zaldivar/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Raquel Zaldivar/NPR

Tiny Desk

Tigers Jaw

The duo strips down to acoustic guitar and keyboard for a strikingly intimate set, illuminating their close harmonies that tangle like garlands.

Penguin Cafe performs a Tiny Desk Concert on May 2, 2017. (Claire Harbage/NPR) Claire Harbage/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Claire Harbage/NPR

Tiny Desk

Penguin Cafe

Penguin Cafe folds in sounds from around the world and throughout music history — Africa, Kraftwerk, Brazil and Franz Schubert.

Perfume Genius performs at NPR's Tiny Desk on May 15, 2017. (Raquel Zaldivar/NPR) Raquel Zaldivar/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Raquel Zaldivar/NPR

Tiny Desk

Perfume Genius

The band's long-awaited performance at the Tiny Desk was both beautiful and, at times, intense, featuring three deeply personal songs by frontman Mike Hadreas.

Violents & Monica Martin performs a Tiny Desk Concert on March 28, 2017. (Claire Harbage/NPR) Claire Harbage/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Claire Harbage/NPR

Tiny Desk

Violents & Monica Martin

While her band was on hiatus, Monica Martin joined Jeremy Larson's project Violents, yielding a lush record of electronic pop, translated into a quieted set at the Tiny Desk.

Nick Grant performs a Tiny Desk Concert on May 8, 2017. (Claire Harbage/NPR) Claire Harbage/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Claire Harbage/NPR

Tiny Desk

Nick Grant

The Atlanta-based MC came through with the flu and coolly earned our praise. How sick is that?

Royal Thunder performs a Tiny Desk Concert on May 10, 2017. (Claire Harbage/NPR) Claire Harbage/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Claire Harbage/NPR

Tiny Desk

Royal Thunder

What happens when you ask a hard-rock band to unplug its thunder? It draws power from a raw, desperate vulnerability.

Gabriel Garzon-Montano performs a Tiny Desk Concert on May 3, 2017. (Claire Harbage/NPR) Claire Harbage/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Claire Harbage/NPR

Tiny Desk

Gabriel Garzón-Montano

Gabriel Garzón-Montano spent three years writing and recording his beautiful, dense album Jardin -- but for his Tiny Desk visit, he stripped it all down to two elements, the piano and his voice.

Julia Jacklin performs a Tiny Desk Concert on May 1, 2017. (Claire Harbage/NPR) Claire Harbage/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Claire Harbage/NPR

Tiny Desk

Julia Jacklin

A restrained, whisper-soft Tiny Desk concert from Australian singer-songwriter Julia Jacklin with songs taken from her debut album Don't Let The Kids Win.

Troker performs at Tiny Desk Concert on April 5, 2017 (Marian Carrasquero/NPR) Marian Carrasquero /NPR hide caption

toggle caption Marian Carrasquero /NPR

Tiny Desk

Troker

Mexico may not be known for its jazz, but the young lions of Troker are a promising hope to make the country and its capital city a destination.

Back To Top