The pairing of Tuxedo is a natural feel in person, but highly unlikely on paper. Seattle-based producer Jake One has a who’s-who client list, from Rick Ross to 21 Savage — while DJ, singer-songwriter and producer Mayer Hawthorne is a renaissance soul man from Motor City. They stealthily debuted three tracks on SoundCloud in 2013 with only a black square stamped “Tuxedo” as the cover art, leaving fans wondering where this new funk was coming from. A few months later they unveiled their identities along with a debut self-titled LP, resurrecting a sound popularized by greats like The Gap Band, The Fatback Band and Roger Troutman.
When Tuxedo arrived at NPR and Mayer Hawthorne spied a small ‘Ho!’ button sitting on Bob Boilen’s desk, he immediately beamed. “We use a big ‘Ho!’ button on tour,” he said. They didn’t bring a drummer, opting for a boombox — yes, a real boombox playing a real cassette take, kids — and it was nostalgic delight from the start of the cassette’s hiss. The band was tight as ever, while their ace in the hole, Gavin Turek provided dance moves and the sweetest harmonies. Tuxedo set things off with a fan favorite from their first album, along with two from their latest, before closing it out with a red light special. It’s one thing to go against the grain for the sake of it — and another completely make it good. In this Tiny Desk concert, Tuxedo accomplished both.