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Tiny Desk Meets SXSW: Yard Act

Every year, NPR Music participates in the SXSW music festival, whether it's curating a stage or simply attending hundreds of shows at the annual event in Austin, Texas. In 2020, the festival was canceled due to the pandemic, but it returned last March as an online festival. We programmed a virtual "stage" of Tiny Desk (home) concerts in 2021 in a series called Tiny Desk Meets SXSW. This year we return again, virtually, with another round of Tiny Desk Meets SXSW: four videos filmed in various locations, all of them full of surprises.

Before the English band Yard Act set foot on stage at the Trades Club in Hebden Bridge, England, the band set up its instruments in the green room and performed this Tiny Desk (home) concert. It's a fitting location for the band from Leeds, which has around 70 shows lined up to celebrate its debut album The Overload including the SXSW music festival in Austin, Texas. Yard Act's music is filled with brash sounds aimed at capitalism, equality, or lack thereof, and all done with both venom and humor.

Jay Russell's drum machine sits on a tiny table and kicks off the song, with Ryan Needham's simple bassline and Sam Shjipstone's guitar tones setting the backdrop for James Smith's narrations. "Rich" is our opener, a song that James Smith wrote imagining a world where one might actually make music for a living. James Smith told me that it was a kind of "hypothetical exercise in what I'd do if all of a sudden I had a lot of money, as someone who's never had money and never expected to." The lyrics humorously imagine the song being used in Hollywood films where the protagonist gets rich, and in turn making James rich. It's a searing, tongue-in-cheek look at capitalism and our money-obsessed culture, a theme that takes different forms through different characters in this wry and compelling five-song set.


  • "Rich"
  • "Payday"
  • "Land Of The Blind"
  • "Fixer Upper"
  • "100% Endurance"

  • James Smith: vocals
  • Samuel Shjipstone: guitar
  • Ryan Needham: bass
  • Jay Russell: drum machine

  • Video: Jonny Ridout
  • Audio: Pete Flinton, Jay Russell
  • Recorded at the Trades Club green room, Hebden Bridge

  • Producer: Bob Boilen
  • Video Producer: Joshua Bryant
  • Audio Mastering: Josh Rogosin
  • Tiny Production Team: Bobby Carter, Kara Frame, Maia Stern, Ashley Pointer
  • Executive Producer: Keith Jenkins
  • Senior VP, Programming: Anya Grundmann
  • Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

    In 1988, a determined Bob Boilen started showing up on NPR's doorstep every day, looking for a way to contribute his skills in music and broadcasting to the network. His persistence paid off, and within a few weeks he was hired, on a temporary basis, to work for All Things Considered. Less than a year later, Boilen was directing the show and continued to do so for the next 18 years.

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