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Chappell Roan: Tiny Desk Concert

It's become a Tiny Desk tradition for artists to leave a small offering on the shelves — a tchotchke, a toy, a signed album or piece of swag, a guitar pick, that sort of thing. Usually, those pieces get absorbed into the visual din, but sometimes, they change the look of the Tiny Desk permanently. All of which is to say that when Chappell Roan finished her magnetic performance, we immediately sought her out to sheepishly ask if we could keep her wig.

Roan's marvelous debut album, The Rise and Fall of a Midwest Princess, came out last September — just in time to fit into the window of eligibility for the 2025 Grammys, hint hint wink — and it finds the singer toying confidently with a persona inspired in part by drag performers. Flanked by a pink-clad band, she wasn't about to pass up the opportunity to serve up an absolute look, complete with white makeup and a towering wig (bolstered by a wadded-up trash bag tucked inside, as well as an assortment of stubbed-out cigarette butts), which now sits comfortably atop a skull Cypress Hill left us.

It's only appropriate that Roan would forever alter the Tiny Desk. Because, at the risk of sounding hyperbolic, this is a stunning set: Performing five songs from Midwest Princess, Roan worked through songs of youthful heartache ("Casual"), queer liberation ("Pink Pony Club"), mournful alienation ("California") and two decidedly different forms of chaotic seduction ("Picture You," "Red Wine Supernova"). In every mood and every song, she's utterly commanding — witty and whip-smart, vocally assured and charismatic beyond words.

She didn't just leave her wig; she left a mark.

SET LIST

  • "Casual"
  • "Pink Pony Club"
  • "Picture You"
  • "California"
  • "Red Wine Supernova"
  • MUSICIANS

  • Chappell Roan: lead vocals
  • Eliza Petrosyan: guitar
  • Lucy Ritter: drums
  • Valeria Falcon: bass
  • Sarah Hinez: keys 
  • Danica Pinner: cello 
  • Mia Pfirrman: vocals
  • Emily Lenck: violin
  • TINY DESK TEAM

  • Producer: Stephen Thompson
  • Director/Editor: Kara Frame
  • Audio Technical Director: Neil Tevault
  • Series Producer: Bobby Carter
  • Videographers: Kara Frame, Joshua Bryant, Zayrha Rodriguez 
  • Audio Engineer: Carleigh Strange
  • Production Assistant: Ashley Pointer
  • Photographer: Elizabeth Gillis
  • Tiny Desk Team: Maia Stern, Hazel Cills
  • Executive Producer: Suraya Mohamed
  • Series Creators: Bob Boilen, Stephen Thompson
  • VP, Visuals and Music: Keith Jenkins
  • Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

    Stephen Thompson
    Stephen Thompson is a host, writer and reviewer for NPR Music, where he speaks into any microphone that will have him and appears as a frequent panelist and guest host on All Songs Considered. Thompson also co-hosts the daily NPR roundtable podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour, which he created with NPR's Linda Holmes in 2010. In 2008, he and Bob Boilen created the NPR Music video series Tiny Desk concerts, in which musicians perform at Boilen's desk. (To be more specific, Thompson had the idea, which took seconds, while Boilen created the series, which took years. Thompson will insist upon equal billing until the day he dies.)