Since its inception in 2008, NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert series has been a godsend for discovering new music. The filmed series, which involves musicians performing an intimate set around NPR’s All Songs Considered Host Bob Boilen’s desk is a front row seat to the bands and artists you ought to know. 2018 marks the fourth year in which the popular series expanded into a contest, inviting bands across the US to submit their own “Tiny Desk” videos for an opportunity to perform on the real thing for NPR’s millions of subscribers. Additionally, this year, NPR is taking their Tiny Desk Series on the road inviting stateside contestants to open as a local showcase for this year’s winner, Naia Izumi. Here is as an introduction to the Denver edition, held at Globe Hall on May 31, led by Ivory Circle, Audible and Los Mocochetes.
Composed of singer/songwriter Connie Hong, drummer Rob Spradling and guitarist and producer Chris Beeble, Ivory Circle is a powerful indie-rock statement led by an incredible female vocalist. Having met Beeble while they were in two different bands, Hong set the groundwork for what would become Ivory Circle, as she sought out his assistance in bringing her artistic vision to life. Fast forward to the release of their brilliant EP Scalene (the final installment of a three-part triangle-inspired trilogy), Hong and the rest of the band let their hair down for their NPR submission. The 11-take video of their breakout song “Never Let Me Go,” took nearly eight hours to complete, but details the quirkiness as well as the commitment of the band to their craft.
Check out the review of the Ivory Circle opening for Wildermiss at the Bluebird here.
Self-described “neo-soul backpack-rap” hybrid Audible emerged from the shadows of their NPR submission with lyrical excellence and soulful elegance. What started as a meeting from an open mic night circuit in 2012 evolved into a multi-genre amalgamation of the five-piece’s eclectic influences. From The Roots to John Mayer, the Colorado Springs-based group met in the middle with their background and influences pushing for a place in Colorado’s hip-hop scene by letting their music speak for them. As leading emcee HoTT described, “Audible’s impact on the scene remains to be interpreted, because we take different eras of hip-hop and bring them into a live performance, and that’s what I think the scene is lacking.” For their NPR video, the band chose the song “Up, Up and Away,” because they wanted to touch on the band’s and their audience’s inner-strength and a reflection of how far they’ve come as a band. Speaking on the song guitarist and singer Jeb Burgess reflected, “we’ve struggled for a long time getting our music out to people, and to have our music accepted for what it is — the song is a testament.”
Chicano-funk group Los Mocochetes — proud of their Latino heritage — elevate both their music and their culture on a genre-bending pedestal. Calling their music something “the whole world can fuck with” Los Mocochetes mostly met at Denver’s Youth on Record, bonding over the music they grew up on and discovered a familial connection in the process (guitarist Elias Garcia and lead singer and guitarist Joshua Abeyta are second cousins). Using their music as a vehicle, the band wanted to spread their message of learning and understanding in the current political environment. “We have to create our own spaces for community, and I think a central theme in our music is to bring people together in a healthy and positive way and dance our way into a revolution.” In a sense, the band sees themselves as historians, documenting the current movement in their songs. In fact, when Donald Trump got elected into office, the band felt a galvanization to stand up and wake up people to take action. Regarding their inclusion on NPR’s Denver showcase, “we were so confident in our message — we knew people were going to like it…So, it was really cool to see it come to life, and moments like that that reaffirm you’re on the right life path.”