Parks and Recreation have added an indie-rock heavyweight to their upcoming, concert-themed season finale episode. Yo La Tengo will appear as the awesomely named Night Ranger cover band Bobby Knight Ranger, playing the band’s iconic Eighties power ballad “Sister Christian.”
“It’s a Night Ranger cover band that wears red sweaters,” says executive producer Michael Schur in a new interview with A.V. Club. “There was a total throwaway joke [in episode ‘New Slogan’] where Andy discovers Duke Silver and tells Ron, ‘You’re going to play the Unity Concert, I have you on right after Bobby Knight Ranger. . . One of our writers, Donick Carey, is very good friends with the band Yo La Tengo, who are one of my favorite bands, and he emailed them and said, ‘Hey, do you guys want to play Bobby Knight Ranger?’ And they were, like, ‘Sure!’”
And apparently the band weren’t shy about getting into character, showing up in “red sweaters, khakis and white wigs” to play the tune in front of 1,000 fake fans.
“It was one of the weirdest things I’ve ever seen and completely delightful,” Schur says. “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 rest of the fictional concert line-up is both random and fantastic: As previously reported, the Decemberists will also appear, and Schur also confirmed guest spots from R&B singer Ginuwine (of “Pony” fame) and Nineties alt-rockers Letters to Cleo (which “makes Ben Wyatt extremely happy”). The episode’s highest profile performer is Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy, who plays the lead singer of an act named Land Ho! recruited by Leslie (Amy Poehler) and Andy (Chris Pratt) to “solidify the merger of Pawnee and Eagleton” at the Unity Concert.
The insane-sounding finale is set to air on April 24th.