Fred Armisen Joins Yo La Tengo In New York City

Watch the comedian/musician describe guitar and drum styles and join the band for "Big Day Coming" and "Sugarcube."

By Scott Bernstein Dec 3, 2021 12:16 pm PST

Fred Armisen kept busy on Thursday during the fifth night of Yo La Tengo‘s 8 Nights Of Hanukkah residency in New York City. Armisen performed a comedy set after Low began the evening and then joined the trio on drums for nearly all of their show.

Yo La Tengo went at it alone to open last night’s main set with a cover of The Urinals’ “Surfin’ With The Shah,” “Five-Cornered Drone (Crispy Duck)” off their 1992 album May I Sing With Me and There’s A Riot Going On chestnut “Forever.” Fred Armisen then took a seat at a drum set next to Georgia Hubley’s kit for the rest of the night with one exception.

The three-piece and Armisen went back to May I Sing With Me for “Detouring America With Horns” to start the double drum action. A rare “Center Of Gravity” followed along with the pairing of “Black Flowers” and “Fog Over Frisco.” Next came the first “Don’t Have To Be So Sad” performed at a Hanukkah run since 2017 and the pulsing “Nowhere Near.” The four musicians went on to cover T Rex’s “Baby Strange.” YLT and Fred then played “I Should Have Known Better” before closing the frame with beloved staples “Big Day Coming,” “Sugarcube,” “Ohm” and “The Story Of Yo La Tango.”

Last night’s encore consisted of five covers. First up was a take on The McCoys’ 1965 gem “Sorrow.” Antietam frontwoman Tara Key then emerged to lead the ensemble on “Orange Song,” an Antietam tune YLT covered on their 1989 album, President Yo La Tengo. From there Armisen stepped up from his kit to sing and play guitar on The Clash’s “(White Man) In Hammersmith Palais” which also featured YLT tour manager Joe Puleo on harmonica. The night ended with Low’s Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker joining the trio and Armisen for the Neil Diamond classic “I Am, I Said” and Flo & Eddie post-Turtles standout “Keep It Warm.” The former was last played in 2011 and the latter was debuted at last year’s Hanukkah concert as per Setlist.FM.

Watch fan-shot video featuring Armisen’s comedic set, “Big Day Coming” and “Sugarcube” from last night below:


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Richard Wolf (See 5 videos)
Yo La Tengo (See 80 videos) and Fred Armisen (See 3 videos)

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Yo La Tengo (See 80 videos) and Fred Armisen (See 3 videos)

Setlist (via Frank & Earthy)

Set: Surfin’ With the Shah, Five-Cornered Drone (Crispy Duck), Forever, Detouring America With Horns, Center of Gravity, Black Flowers, Fog Over Frisco, Don’t Have To Be So Sad, Nowhere Near, Baby Strange, I Should Have Known Better, Big Day Coming (fast version), Sugarcube, Ohm, The Story of Yo La Tango

Encore: Sorrow, Orange Song [1], (White Man) In Hammersmith Palais [2], I Am, I Said [3], Keep It Warm [3]

Whole show minus 1st 3 songs with Fred Armisen on drums.

  • [1] – with Tara Key on guitar/vocals
  • [2] – with Fred Armisen on guitar/vocals and Joe Puleo on harmonica
  • [3] – with Alan Sparhawk & Mimi Parker of Low on guitar/vocals
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