Skip to main content

The Best Quarantine Musical Performances

By now, most of us are a combination of stir crazy, anxious, and eager for some good news. We pine for the bygone era of attending pro sports games and music festivals but know that these things won’t likely be the same for some time. We’re antsy but we understand that things like wearing a mask and mostly staying put are helping others in tremendous ways.

In music, there have been extremely creative responses to the current climate. Some, like the fantastic latest record from hip-hop duo Run the Jewels, feel like boiling point anthems, calling out systemic racism as it continues to unfold nationwide. Others, like OK Go’s All Together Now are inventive and emotional. Some are just plain playful (like Rick Astley — yes, that Rick Astley — doing an amazing covering of Foo Fighters’ Everlong). And some, like the live weekly work from gifted kids musician Red Yarn, educate, entertain, and empower our kiddos through song. 

In that vein, here are some of the best videos, livestreams, and more offered by the music community since the pandemic erupted.

Waxahatchee

Waxahatchee - Cerulean Salt (Live from Home, 6/15/20)

Katie Crutchfield, aka Waxahatchee, has been underrated for sometime. She quietly released St. Cloud in late March, an album that beautifully blends indie rock with folk and Americana. If not for some incredible efforts from fellow musicians like Fiona Apple and Run the Jewels around the same time, the record would very much be in the album of the year conversation. Amid the pandemic, the artist has been playing in full the varied records of her outstanding discography on Monday evenings via NoonChorus.

Tiny Desk Concerts

KIRBY: Tiny Desk (Home) Concert

NPR’s live performance series stopped inviting guests to its offices a while back, but it’s still turning out great performances. The newest incarnation, Tiny Desk Home Concerts, take us into some of our favorite artists’ bedrooms and home studios for intimate sets. Some of the best include a family singalong orchestrated by Hamilton Leithauser and a feel-good set by KIRBY. It’s a little different without the NPR Music staff applauding each song, but it’s still worth your eyes and ears.

Drake

Drake - Toosie Slide

Canadian artist Drake seems to have this quarantine thing down. His latest video, Toosie Slide, manages to tackle so much in a way, and with a sound, that comes off as effortless. Like an eerie version of MTV’s hit show Cribs, the video walks us through the musician’s massive Toronto home. But it does so in a crafty way that champions social distancing, examines the latest viral dance trend (what the song is named after), and shows us all how to wear a damn mask.

Goldfinger

Goldfinger - "Superman" (Quarantine Video)

Sometimes you just want to thrash around your place in a few moments of sonically charged bliss. Goldfinger promotes just that through a quarantine version of its hit Superman. It shows that the ’90s are still very much alive, ska remains catchy, and playing loud is always the best option. The tracks will have you dusting off your old skateboard almost immediately.

The State of Music

The State of Music: Episode Six

Australia has had a mostly effective campaign against COVID-19. It’s owed mostly to an aggressive quarantine and plenty of testing but it might also have to do with great live entertainment for at-home enjoyment. The State of Music series is exactly that, offering a who’s who of the country’s impressive music scene and high-energy performances. Standouts include Andrew Stockdale of Wolfmother rocking out and some compelling new sounds from Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever.

Pickathon Presents

Wolf Parade | Watch A Concert A Day #WithMe #StayHome #Discover #Live #Music

Premiere Portland music festival Pickathon is not doing its traditional get-together this August but that hasn’t stopped the music. The festival is doing A Concert a Day to fight the pandemic, releasing and streaming full sets from Pickathon’s storied past. There’s a wealth of sound here, including remarkable sets from Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy and the jumpy electronica of Divine Fits.

Questlove

Questlove Quarantine Qoolout

Personality, producer, DJ, journalist, and Roots drummer Questlove has been keeping busy amid the madness. In between hosting virtual potlucks and making music, he’s been spinning choice sounds. This lengthy and well-curated set, appropriately named the Questlove Quarantine Qoolout, is the antidote for shitty times and spans a host of grooving genres. It’s also inspired countless dance parties all over the globe through new-normal platforms like Zoom and Facebook Live. Good luck replicating a set this strong, not to mention the fine banter.

Black Parade

Beyoncé BLACK PARADE (Official Audio)

The track from Beyoncé dropped on Juneteenth. Like the artist itself, the song is incredibly powerful. The video is a still black screen while the track beams with humanity and so many hooks. A little bit jazz, a little bit trap, and all kinds of intoxicating, it’s a single that will have you dancing in front of the mirror.

Build a House

Rhiannon Giddens featuring Yo-Yo Ma - "Build A House"

This song shows that musicians can still play as a band from afar. Featuring Yo-Yo Ma and Rhiannon Giddens, “Build a House” is a touching and poignant track showcasing two talents very much in sync. It’s part of a #songsofcomfort campaign that’s offering some restorative vibes right now and pulling in musicians from all over the globe.

Editors' Recommendations

Mark Stock
Mark Stock is a writer from Portland, Oregon. He fell into wine during the Recession and has been fixated on the stuff since…
The 10 best Dominican cigars I’ve tried and tested in 2024
Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic.

Every seasoned cigar lover has a preference for where their cigars come from. Cuban and Cuban cigars are the more obvious choices, but there is also Nicaraguan tobacco, Central African, Indonesian, Mexican, Ecuadorian, and Dominican. Some tobacco is even grown in the United States. Each region has a distinct flavor profile that adds a little something extra to the tobacco grown locally, as well as the cigars made there. The Dominican Republic is prized by many connoisseurs because of exactly this -- a rich, unique profile that enhances Dominican-grown cigars. That's in no small part due to the fertile soil and thriving climate of the region, which is ideal for tobacco growth and cultivation. If you've never tried a Dominican cigar, you're in for a real treat, there are some fantastic options out there.
The best Dominican cigars I've tried

Out of all the cigar guides I've put together so far, this one was one of the more interesting experiences for me. I had a great time trying out Dominican cigars, and I've definitely come away with an appreciation for blends made in the region. I'd also like to point out that Corey Suarez helped recommend some of these. If you haven't tried the JR Cigars or Cigars.com concierge service yet, you really should. Here's a little more about all of the best Dominican cigars I've tried:
Ashton Symmetry

Read more
The 12 best small cigars I’ve tried and tested in 2024
man smoking small cigar by engin-akyurt unsplash

Big cigars take a while to smoke. We're talking hours for some of the largest stogies out there unless you're puffing too often -- which you shouldn't do. But the cigar world is vast, and not only does that mean a ton of different cigar blends, from Maduro and Corojo to Nicaraguan and Cuban-made, but there are also a plethora of sizes from small to big. You don't have to buy, smoke, or even try a massive stogie, and I would argue against doing so for something like the . There are cigars much bigger than that. I can't imagine that would be a relaxing smoke, if at all enjoyable. Shrinking things down is possible, and I'm not referring to a Robusto or petite size either. I mean closer to a cigarillo. If you're looking for something short and sweet but packed with loads of great flavor, here are the best small cigars I've tried and tested in 2024.
The best small cigars tried and tested in 2024

Most of the time, if I want a quick cigar or something smaller, I'll reach for a nub or Robusto size. I prefer a full-bodied cigar and small cigars typically don't provide that. However, that doesn't mean I don't enjoy a smaller cigar or cigarillo occasionally. My top recommend is the . They are fantastic. Here is a little more detail about all the small cigars I've tried and loved in 2024.
Acid Blondie Blue

Read more
The 10 best medium cigars I’ve tried and tested in 2024
Man smoking cigar casually outside his home, best medium bodied cigars.

Cigars come in a range of strengths, from mellow and mild to full-bodied. The middle road, as you might expect, is a solid medium. One misconception I commonly see about cigar strength is that it directly correlates with flavor. While full-bodied cigars do offer robust and unique flavor profiles, it's not always true that they are the most flavorful. If you know where to look, you can find many mellow to medium smokes that are still flavor bombs. A perfect example of this is the . Yes, it's a mild to medium blend, but the flavors are incredible, with a creamy buttery finish. Medium smokes are also what I would recommend to friends, family, and acquaintances who don't like the toasty and smoky flavors of a stronger cigar like a Maduro. Without further ado, here are the best medium cigars I've tried and tested in 2024 and would recommend to everyone else.
Aganorsa Leaf Aniversario Connecticut

Best Sizes: Robusto or Toro
Box Count: 10 cigars

Read more