My first time seeing IDLES ended with guitarist Mark "Bobo" Bowen frenetically dancing on a bar, his guitar still keeping time, until the swinging neck suddenly shattered some low-hanging, glass lighting fixtures. The band's set at South by Southwest was fierce and I knew it'd be a challenge trying to figure out how to bring that cathartic rage behind my desk. There was talk for a while of some members of the band strapping on pocket-sized guitar amps and beating on a single drum. But a week before this bunch of British madmen arrived at NPR, the instrument list had grown and what ensued was just about the loudest, most fun and most raucous Tiny Desk Concert in memory.
What lead singer Joe Talbot and his mates bring to their shows is a mix of love and outrage. Their songs are often bursts of fury, but the message is insightful and not intended to incite. Joe Talbot says their opening Tiny Desk song, "Never Fight A Man With A Perm," from their album Joy as an Act of Resistance, is an "exploration of the horrid corners of my past."
It only took a few seconds for Joe's face to turn blood-red; as he growled, it stayed that way for the next 13-minutes, even as he curtseyed at the end of the first song and bounced his way into the second. "Bobo" meanwhile moved from standing and pounding the bass drum to thrashing a guitar. I think a water bottle and some miscellaneous objects got knocked from the shelves while guitarist Lee Kiernan played. But watching his hyperactive movements in this confined space, it's actually hard to believe that so few things broke. "We are not the Jonas Brothers," Joe Talbot explained before their final tune. "People get confused." He said this with his charming smile and began to run in place while singing "I'm Scum," just to make it clear who they are.
- "Never Fight A Man With A Perm"
- "Mercedes Marxist"
- "I'm Scum"
Joe Talbot: lead vocal; Mark "Bobo" Bowen: guitars; Lee Kiernan: guitar; Adam Devonshire: bass; Jon Beavis: drums; Jeremy Snyder: keyboards
Producers: Bob Boilen, Morgan Noelle Smith; Creative Director: Bob Boilen; Audio Engineer: Josh Rogosin; Videographers: CJ Riculan, Kara Frame, Morgan Noelle Smith; Associate Producer: Bobby Carter; Photo: Claire Harbage