Parks and Recreation concluded its sixth season Thursday night with an epic musical extravaganza. The episode, which focused on the Pawnee/Eagleton Unity Concert, featured performances from a handful of alt-rock icons (Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy, the Decemberists and Yo La Tengo) along with Nineties R&B heartthrob Ginuwine.
Tweedy appeared as the leader of a reunited band named Land Ho! Yo La Tengo paid tribute to former Indiana University basketball coach Bobby Knight as expertly titled Night Ranger cover band Bobby Knight Ranger, performing the timeless power ballad “Sister Christian” in their Knight-themed attire. The Decemberists, meanwhile, skipped on the fictional theme and performed their own tune “The Crane Wife 3.”
Ginuwine’s head-scratching performance is the true highlight. In honor of Li’l Sebastian, Pawnee’s beloved (and deceased) miniature horse, the R&B singer played his sole smash, “Pony.” Later on, all of the disparate acts graced the stage for the Li’l Sebastian tribute “Five Thousand Candles in the Wind” (which also featured a Tupac-styled hologram of the dead horse).
Back in March, executive producer Michael Schur previewed the concert episode in an interview with A.V. Club, noting how enthused Yo La Tengo were for their oddball gig.
“It was one of the weirdest things I’ve ever seen and completely delightful,” he said. “It was just really cool. They were so game and so happy to be there, and it was so cool of them, because. . . I mean, they’re basically in disguise. Yo La Tengo fans will recognize them, definitely, but most people won’t. They just did it because they like comedy and wanted to be a part of the show. It was super cool. I’m forever in their debt.”
The episode also featured a cameo from a non-musical star – the First Lady. Michelle Obama appeared as the keynote speaker at a National Parks Conference in San Francisco, where she bumps into Leslie Knopes (Amy Poehler) and inspires her to accept a National Parks job in Chicago.
Check out the all-star “Five Thousand Candles in the Wind” jam below:
Full Episode: Parks and Recreation season finale