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Partner: Tiny Desk Concert

This is one of the sweetest, funniest and most endearing Tiny Desk performances I've seen. From the moment they began playing, it was clear best friends Lucy Niles and Josée Caron, who perform as the Canadian rock band Partner, were there to leave their mark and have a whole lot of fun doing it.

Known for their sense of humor, joyful spirit and screaming riff rock, Partner opened their Tiny Desk not with their guitars plugged in, but with kazoos and a goofy little piano piece they dubbed the "Tiny Desk Theme." Dressed like she was in an ugly sweater contest, Caron bounced along behind the keys with a beaming smile while the group (including drummer Brendan Allison, Kevin Brasier on keys and Daniel Legere on guitar) sang, "It's the best Tiny Desk!"

The impish left turns didn't stop there. Immediately following the makeshift theme, Caron peeled off her sweater (revealing a Tegan and Sara T-shirt) and grabbed an acoustic guitar as the band broke into its first-ever country song, a track they'd premiered at a live show just days earlier. They could barely contain their laughter while singing "Tell You Off," a boom-chicka story song about giving a good tongue-lashing to anyone who gets in your way.

Partner closed out its set with a surprisingly emotional version of "Creature In The Sun," a reflection on appreciating the gift of just being alive. About halfway through the song, Caron took a moment to tell the audience why it was so special to them. Choking back tears, she said she wrote it about freeing the mind of desire. "It's a very healing place... And you can just experience the fullness of life. I just wanted to... remind everyone that that stuff is right there with you all the time."

For a set that had been largely about laughter and playing around, it was one last surprise turn from one of my favorite new acts in recent years, and a fitting bookend to the many ways the band left its own mark on the Tiny Desk.

Set List

  • "Tiny Desk Theme"
  • "Tell You Off"
  • "Angels Wings"
  • "Creature in the Sun"
  • Personnel

    Lucy Niles (guitar, vocals); Josée Caron (guitars, vocals); Brendan Allison (drums); Kevin Brasier (keys); Daniel Legere (guitar)


    Producers: Robin Hilton, Morgan Noelle Smith; Creative Director: Bob Boilen; Audio Engineer: Josh Rogosin; Videographers: Morgan Noelle Smith, Kara Frame, Dani Lyman; Production Assistant: Joshua Bote; Photo: Eslah Attar/NPR.

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    Robin Hilton is a producer and co-host of the popular NPR Music show All Songs Considered.