The math-rock ensemble, American Football, made an appearance behind the desk of Bob Boilen: a desk that has become famously known as NPR’s “Tiny Desk.” The Illinois group, once a trio, has expanded from their humble beginnings in the late ’90s into a massively influential band in the greater scope of the emo genre after their first self-titled album was released to critical acclaim.

Cut to more than two decades later: American Football has reunited after a 14-year hiatus and been on tour since 2014. Their most recent release was released mere months ago (self-titled, of course, just like the last three). Now, they’re playing stripped down versions of their tracks for NPR.

Despite starting as a trio, the current American Football lineup was crammed into the tiny space; they squeezed the standard four piece, a vibraphonist, a backing singer, and six choir children from Washington, D.C. in between the open office cubicles of the NPR headquarters.

The tracklist features three songs from their latest release which come in the same order on the album. Their mini-setlist included “Every Wave To Ever Rise” and “Uncomfortably Numb,” the latter of which being a cheeky reference to Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb.” The final song, “Heir Apparent,” features the children’s choir adorned in paper crowns — a clever, ironic wink at the meaning of the song.

Catch the intimate, melancholy math-rock riffage down below!


American Football uses Ernie Ball Power Slinky, Not Even Slinky, and Burly Slinky strings on electric guitar while choosing Earthwood Phosphor Bronze Medium Light strings on acoustic. For bass, they use Beefy Slinky strings. They also have the Ernie Ball MVP Volume Pedal equipped to their pedalboard.

Listen to American Football

*** Featured Image Courtesy: NPR Music

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