Helado Negro: Tiny Desk Concert Helado Negro ditches his bank of electronics for alto and tenor saxophones, bringing his utterly unique style to a intense, perfectly balanced Tiny Desk Concert.

Tiny Desk

Helado Negro

The artist Helado Negro (Roberto Lange) made a very big impression on me when I first experienced him almost eight years ago. It was a sound I had never quite heard, and I was immediately drawn in; there were layers of synths, percussion that percolated rather than pulsed, vocals that epitomized the world ethereal and lyrics in Spanish and English that floated amidst the music like wisps of smoke.

I caught his live show in Mexico City and in Austin, Texas and each time the spectacle of theater and elaborate presentation were just as important as the music (including two dancers covered in what can best be described as Christmas tree tinsel).

But that's not what you're getting here — instead of tinsel, we get Roberto standing behind Bob Boilen's desk in a t-shirt that says "Young, Latin and Proud," the title of his most recent single. That's the essence of the songs he chose to play (and really, his entire catalog), music about being a young American with Ecuadorian parents, singing about life in here in the U.S.

Our little concert here also shows off an acoustic treatment of Helado Negro's vision, and it's just as compelling without the electronics. In fact, it's as if the songs reveal a different aspect of themselves, the lyrics intimate and laid bare. Personally, I loved the sound of the alto and tenor saxophones playing harmonies in place of a bank of keyboards. As you'll see, the entire band perfected that delicate balance of intensity and low volume, letting the music and ideas breathe.

This performance was a long time in the making, but the payoff is clear, presenting an artist in full command of his craft.

Private Energy is available now. (iTunes) (Amazon)


Set List

  • "Transmission Listen"
  • "Young, Latin and Proud"
  • "Run Around"
  • "It's My Brown Skin"

Musicians

Roberto Lange (vocals, guitar); Nathaniel Morgan (sax); Angela Morris (sax, violin); Ben Lanz (bass guitar); Weston Minissali (synthesizer); Jason Nazary (drums)

Credits

Producers: Felix Contreras, Niki Walker; Audio Engineer: Josh Rogosin; Videographers: Niki Walker, Morgan Noelle Smith, Kara Frame; PA: CJ Riculan; Photo: Claire Harbage/NPR.

For more Tiny Desk concerts, subscribe to our podcast.

[+] read more[-] less

More From Tiny Desk

Spillage Village plays a Tiny Desk (Home) Concert. NPR hide caption

toggle caption NPR

Spillage Village (Home) Concert

Let the Atlanta hip-hop collective take you to church in its Tiny Desk quarantine video.

Christone "KINGFISH" Ingram plays a Tiny Desk (home) concert. NPR hide caption

toggle caption NPR

Kingfish (Home) Concert

The blues prodigy performs a special Tiny Desk show at the Ground Zero Blues Club in Clarksdale, Miss.

Gracie and Rachel perform a Tiny Desk (home) concert. NPR hide caption

toggle caption NPR

Gracie And Rachel (Home) Concert

The pop-meet-classical duo perform a quarantine concert from their New York City apartment.

Ozuna plays a Tiny Desk (home) concert. NPR hide caption

toggle caption NPR

Ozuna (Home) Concert

Global superstar Ozuna performs five songs in quarantine for Tiny Desk.

Bebel Gilberto plays a Tiny Desk (home) concert. NPR hide caption

toggle caption NPR

Bebel Gilberto (Home) Concert

Two members of Brazilian musical royalty unite for a special Tiny Desk quarantine performance (and a heck of a view).

Carlos Vives plays a Tiny Desk (home) concert. NPR hide caption

toggle caption NPR

Carlos Vives (Home) Concert

Colombian actor and singer Carlos Vives has been performing Latin American hits for almost 30 years. His Tiny Desk (home) concert is part of our Hispanic Heritage Month extravaganza.

Lido Pimienta plays a Tiny Desk (home) concert. NPR hide caption

toggle caption NPR

Lido Pimienta (Home) Concert

The Polaris Music Prize winner kicks off our week-long Tiny Desk celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month.

The Flaming Lips perform a Tiny Desk (home) concert. NPR hide caption

toggle caption NPR

The Flaming Lips (Home) Concert

Wayne Coyne has been preparing for this era of social distancing for 10 years. Watch The Flaming Lips perform in bubbles for our Tiny Desk quarantine series.

Angel Olsen plays a Tiny Desk (home) concert. NPR hide caption

toggle caption NPR

Angel Olsen (Home) Concert

The singer-songwriter performs four songs on her porch in Asheville, N.C., for Tiny Desk's quarantine series.

Little Big Town plays a Tiny Desk (home) concert. NPR hide caption

toggle caption NPR

Little Big Town (Home) Concert

Little Big Town, one of the biggest bands in country music, perform a Tiny Desk quarantine show, and they bring the hits.

Back To Top