Fontaines D.C.: Tiny Desk (Home) Concert
The Tiny Desk is working from home for the foreseeable future. Introducing NPR Music's Tiny Desk (home) concerts, bringing you performances from across the country and the world. It's the same spirit — stripped-down sets, an intimate setting — just a different space.
Filmed in Chicago's beautiful brick Irish American Heritage Center during a recent tour, this four-song set begins with Fontaines D.C. singer Grian Chatten in the stacks at the center's library, playing a button accordion and singing the mordant ballad "The Couple Across the Way" as cellist Maureen Dunne and violist Isaac Henry accompany him. An emotional touchstone on the band's latest album, Skinty Fia, it's a taste of an unfinished Fontaines project: the Irish group originally planned to release a double set with half traditionally-styled tunes and half the searing, atmospheric post-punk that makes this third LP the band's best.
But we won't stay here in the quiet, unsettled heart. Chatten ambles over to the library's open area, where the band is set up alongside members of the Northwestern University Choir to perform "In ár gCroíthe go deo." The eerie blend of the choir's harmonies and the band's droning, building rhythms moves this music from storytelling to poetry. The song is a keen: an Irish lament for a dead woman whose family wanted the song's title phrase inscribed on her grave but were thwarted when officials in their English hometown demanded a translation. "Gone is the night, gone is the day," Chatten sings through gritted teeth as the choir and his bandmates chant those lost Irish words. Another library corner offers a dynamic shift, as Carlos O'Connell leads the tender, drifting "Big Shot" with delicate keyboard. Then it's back to the noise with "Nabokov" — the perfect tune for tearing up an archive — and a final surprise sends the set into happy chaos.
TINY DESK TEAM
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