Photo via YouTube

Yesterday, Jan. 8, a chance crossing between Yo La Tengo and Sun Ra Arkestra led to an unforgettable shared stage at San Francisco’s The Fillmore. Just as the indie trio kicked off the latest leg of its This Stupid World tour with a two-night run at the historic venue, the legendary avant-garde jazz ensemble closed out its three-night series at the Great American Music Hall. The well-acquainted groups seized this opportunity for a new live collaboration, united after for a few songs at the end of the night, including a cover of Grateful Dead’s “New Speedway Boogie.” 

After wrapping its second set, Yo La Tengo returned to the stage alongside the Arkestra for a four-song encore. The combination opened with Sun Ra’s 1955 doo-wop single “Dreaming” before saluting San Francisco with a debut performance of the Grateful Dead’s “New Speedway Boogie,” fortunately captured in a fan-recorded video. The group continued with “Emulsified,” an obscure Rex Garvin & The Mighty Cravers cut given new life on Yo La Tengo’s 1990 album Fakebook, then brought the evening to a close with Ra’s urgent warning “Nuclear War.”

This meeting of the minds builds on a longstanding tradition of cooperation between Yo La Tengo and the Arkestra, who most recently united for Yo La Tengo’s 2023 Hanukkah celebration, just as they had in 2022. Currently, the Arkestra’s bandleader and most senior member Marshall Allen is heading a new all-star fusion outfit Ghost Horizons featuring Yo La Tengo bassist James McNew, as well at The War on Drugs’ drummer Charlie Hall. Next, on June 15, Yo La Tengo and Sun Ra Arkestra will reunite at New York’s Sony Hall to celebrate Allen’s 100th birthday; tickets for that event are available now.

Watch Yo La Tengo and Sun Ra Arkestra cover “New Speedway Boogie” below, and read on for the evening’s complete setlist.

Yo La Tengo
The Fillmore – San Francisco

Set I: This Stupid World > Sinatra Drive Breakdown > She May, She Might > (That’s Why I Always) Dress in Black* > Always Something > Aselestine >I Feel Like Going Home > Deeper Into Movies > Miles Away

Set II: Barnaby, Hardly Working > Brain Capers > Autumn Sweater > Let’s Save Tony Orlando’s House > Apology Letter > Big Day Coming > Fallout > Today Is the Day > Sugarcube > I Heard You Looking

Encore: Dreaming^ > New Speedway Boogie# > Emulsified! > Nuclear War$

* Bust-out of The Blackjacks “(That’s Why I Always) Dress in Black”
^ Cover of Sun Ra’s “Dreaming”
# Debut cover of Grateful Dead’s “New Speedway Boogie”
! Cover of Rex Garvin & The Mighty Cravers’ “Emulsified”
$ Cover of Sun Ra’s “Nuclear War”
Setlist via