“Just about the loudest, most fun and most raucous Tiny Desk Concert in memory” — that’s how NPR producer Bob Boilen described British punk band Idles‘ recent trip to the most famous desk in music. He’s not wrong, the band managed to pack in two drums, two guitars, a bass, and a microphone stand into the characteristically tiny space, but that didn’t stop them from running in place, thrashing, and climbing on any available surface space. By the end, the band got even more people involved when they grabbed two spectating NPR employees and put them on percussion duty.
Their first two songs, “Never Fight A Man With A Perm” and “Mercedes Marxist” were bursting with controlled chaos in the small space, but it was the last song where the band really let loose. After lead singer Joe Talbot reminded the crowd “we are not the Jonas Brothers, people get confused,” they launched into a performance of “Scum,” making the distinction clear with the lyrics “I’m scum.” Guitarist Mark “Bobo” Bowen began to venture out beyond the desk and grabbed the aforementioned employees/new backing band, while Talbot began to call out for Boilen to get involved.
Idles are known for using their raucous music and performances to talk about social issues important to them. Talbot recently did a segment with NowThis News where he discussed the way he’s using punk music to challenge stereotypical masculinity and the stigma surrounding men’s mental health. “I have a lot of privileges as a man,” he says, “more than women, and I think it’s important to appreciate those and to try and use those privileges for the benefits of everyone, which is what I’m trying to do.”