Tank And The Bangas: Tiny Desk Concert Tank And The Bangas' victory lap around the Tiny Desk was momentous, celebratory and deeply touching, with a flair and alchemy of styles that could come from New Orleans.

Tiny Desk

Tank And The Bangas

Out of over 6,000 entries — more submissions than we've ever received — Tank And The Bangas won, unanimously, this year's Tiny Desk Contest. I fully expected their victory performance here at NPR headquarters in D.C. to be celebratory. I didn't know we'd all end up in tears.

This band combines R&B with hip-hop's poetry and rollercoaster storytelling, with a flair and alchemy that could only come from New Orleans. Their winning song, "Quick," mixes liquor and revenge — a sort of modern day take on a great folk tale, but peppered with their own idiosyncratic flair and humor. What I couldn't see, until they took over my desk, was the depth of their lyricism and the versatility of their players. At one moment fun-filled funk, the next laid-back jazz, rhythm-driven blues — and it all flows seamlessly. And it's fun to watch: There's a magic kinship between Tarriona "Tank" Ball and Anjelika "Jelly" Joseph as they share singing roles, like two best friends finishing one another's sentences.

This is the third year that NPR Music has put out a call in hopes of finding a shining star. I'm still amazed how, after sifting through thousands of videos from abundantly talented musicians, we can find a common winner amongst a range of judges with such different musical backgrounds. But in the end, my All Songs Considered co-host Robin Hilton, Trey Anastasio (Phish), Miguel, Anthony Hamilton, Ben Hopkins (PWR BTTM), BANKS, and folks who listen to an awful lot of music — NPR member station hosts Rita Houston (WFUV), Talia Schlanger (WXPN), Stas THEE Boss (KEXP) — and myself were all equally charmed, delighted and captivated.

And so here it is, a chance to see an artist truly blossoming. It's just the beginning: A few years ago, for our first Contest, Fantastic Negrito won our hearts. This year he won a Grammy. Last year Gaelynn Lea, an unknown violinist, teacher and singer sent a video captured on a phone and won our affection and souls. A few weeks ago, her Tiny Desk Concert had been seen more than a million times. These days she's taken to the road, touring the world.

Tank And The Bangas will be hitting the road in April with NPR Music to find their new audience — I'll be along for the ride — visiting many of our member stations with help from those music-loving beer brewers at Lagunitas. I can't wait to see the reaction in these crowds' eyes, as they fill with wonder and tears like ours did, experiencing this band for the first time.

Set List

  • "Boxes And Squares"
  • "Quick"
  • "Rollercoasters"

Musicians

Tarriona Tank Ball (vocals); Jelly Joseph (vocals); Merell Burkett Jr. (keys); Norman Spence II (keys); Joshua Johnson (drums); Jonathan Johnson (bass); Albert Allenback (saxophone)

Credits

Producers: Bob Boilen, Niki Walker; Audio Engineer: Josh Rogosin; Videographers: Niki Walker, Nick Michael, Bronson Arcuri, Morgan Noelle Smith; Production Assistants: A Noah Harrison, Ameeta Ganatra; Photo: Niki Walker/NPR.

For more Tiny Desk concerts, subscribe to our podcast.

[+] read more[-] less

More From Tiny Desk

Erin Rae and the Meanwhiles perform at Tiny Desk on June 11. Photo by Olivia Falcigno/NPR Olivia Falcigno/NPR/Olivia Falcigno/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Olivia Falcigno/NPR/Olivia Falcigno/NPR

Erin Rae

Every time she performs live, Erin Rae transforms her quiet storms into different hues of squalling introspection.

Sting and Shaggy perform a Tiny Desk Concert on Sept. 19, 2018. Cameron Pollack/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Cameron Pollack/NPR

Sting And Shaggy

The two musical legends brought plenty of joy to the Tiny Desk, with an unexpected collaboration that works surprisingly well.

Miya Folick plays a Tiny Desk Concert on Feb. 21, 2019. Jenna Sterner/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Jenna Sterner/NPR

Miya Folick

Miya Folick was raised a Buddhist in Santa Ana, Calif., and is of Ukrainian and Japanese descent. She sings of conviction, not fiction.

Gemma Doherty (left) and Morgan MacIntyre performing as Saint Sister during their Tiny Desk Concert at NPR in Washington, D.C. Michael Zamora/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Michael Zamora/NPR

Saint Sister

The group from Ireland makes music that mixes the organic with the electronic, starting with a large, 34-string lever harp.

Be More Chill plays a Tiny Desk Concert on June 10, 2019 (Shuran Huang/NPR). Shuran Huang/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Shuran Huang/NPR

Be More Chill

On Broadway, Be More Chill is a playful burst of frenetic energy and silly, stealthy sweetness. At the Tiny Desk, it holds onto that rowdy, generous spirit while stripping down the arrangements.

Tasha Cobbs Leonard plays a Tiny Desk Concert on June 4, 2019 (Shuran Huang/NPR). Shuran Huang/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Shuran Huang/NPR

Tasha Cobbs Leonard

Tasha Cobbs Leonard is widely regarded as one of the best gospel singers performing today. Her set at the Tiny Desk moved many at the NPR offices to tears.

Imogen Heap plays a Tiny Desk Conert on May 4, 2019 (Colin Marshall/NPR). Colin Marshall/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Colin Marshall/NPR

Imogen Heap

Imogen Heap takes us through her many musical talents, from her Frou Frou musical partner, Guy Sigsworth — and their first new song in 17 years — to an extraordinary performance with musical gloves.

Idles plays a Tiny Desk Concert on May 13, 2019 (Claire Harbage/NPR). Claire Harbage/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Claire Harbage/NPR

IDLES

The British madmen brought fury, cathartic rage and deep thoughts to the Tiny Desk for one of the loudest, most raucous performances in memory.

Foxing plays at the Tiny Desk on May 1, 2019 (Claire Harbage/NPR). Claire Harbage/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Claire Harbage/NPR

Foxing

Foxing is at the forefront of an emo revival, heavily influenced by late-'90s and early 2000s groups like Sunny Day Real Estate and American Football.

Sesame Street plays a Tiny Desk concert on May 10, 2019 (Claire Harbage/NPR). Claire Harbage/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Claire Harbage/NPR

Sesame Street

Big Bird, Bert and Ernie, Elmo, Grover, Rosita, Count von Count, Abby Cadabby, Cookie Monster and other surprise guests gather at NPR's headquarters to celebrate 50 years of love, learning and joy.

Back To Top