April 29, 2016 by Colin Peterson
March 19, at WXPN’s World Cafe Live from 7:30 PM to 11:00 PM, National Public Radio’s (NPR) “Tiny Desk Series” kicked off its first concert of the year. Hosted by WXPN Program Director Bruce Warren and NPR Music’s Bob Boilen, it featured three acts, each presenting a different style and genre of music, demonstrating vast appeal to a diverse audience.
The first act to take the stage was Joy Ike, an indie pop, folk and soul artist from Pittsburgh born to Nigerian parents. She engaged the audience with songs such as “Nomad,” in which she sang about the paths traveled to finding a place in life, and “Time,” in which she conveyed how much she wants to spend life with someone. Lyrically, most people may relate to these songs because they emphasize the emotional ups and downs of creating and living a happy life. However, what held the city audience were her unique indie pop and soul vibes. Country music may emphasize similar emotional aspects to Ike’s music, but the style of her voice along with the instrumentation gave it an entirely new feel making it appealing even for those who do not like country music.
The next artist to perform was The Bul Bey, an aspiring rapper native to Philadelphia. He made every effort to pump up his concert audience with his enthusiasm and did an excellent job doing so– it was almost as if he was introducing each member of the audience to his beats individually. The catchy rhythm of his songs also put such an upbeat and positive spin on all normal aspects of life discussed in the lyrics that the audience almost may not have paid attention to the songs’ messages at all. His song, “So Much Further to Go,” is a good example of him displaying confidence in the normal endeavors of life. Normally, paying little attention to central messages of songs is expected among large and diverse audiences, but The Bul Bey’s positive attitude helps him amuse the audience.
Tutlie, a six-piece pop group on NPR’s favorite list, was the final act to perform. The group’s Facebook page describes their music as, “Smart intricate chamber pop that will challenge your imagination.” The band lives up to that description, because their songs lack concrete lyrics. Also, while they heavily used electric guitars, a trumpet, harp, piano, and xylophone, the style in which those instruments were played created an intimate sound that left the crowd enchanted. Such an example could be “Sleeping Sea,” a song meant to soothe a person’s mind. The voices of the female vocalists with their complementing harmony, helped achieve the effect. Overall, because they may trigger hallucinations, their songs are ideal for people who are highly stressed out about work or school and feel they need a break.
“Tiny Desk” is NPR’s annual series of small concerts featuring talented individuals who have won opportunities to perform live by submitting videos of their own songs in an online contest. If you seek a uniquely interesting and well-prepared live music experience for under $30, you may end up with a spectacular deal if you buy tickets for future “Tiny Desk” events. The opportunity to participate in the contest to perform is also open to all legal United States residents 21 years of age or older. To participate, individuals must upload videos of themselves performing their own songs, with the video being no longer than 10 minutes. The video submission period is immediately followed by a judging period. More information can be found at http://tinydeskcontest.npr.org/rules.