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Best & Worst Moments From Bonnaroo 2013

From the insane all-star Superjam to McCartney's goofy Russian accent to R. Kelly's awkward, tortoise-slow descent to the stage from a crane, these were the highlights and low points of the Tennessee fest

1 / 15

Best: Superjam's Insane Surprise Guests

MANCHESTER, TN - JUNE 15: Billy Idol and and Jim James (R) perform as part of the Super Jam during the 2013 Bonnaroo Music &
Erika Goldring/WireImage

The Saturday night Superjam was already one of the festival's highlights thanks to Jim James, John Oates, Sly & the Family Stone's Larry Graham and Alabama Shakes' Brittany Howard delivering hip-shaking covers of rock and soul classics.

But the entire night was turned up to 11 when R. Kelly and Billy Idol—both of whom had just finished full headlining sets—swung by the intimate Superjam tent. Kellz killed Sam Cooke's "A Change is Gonna Come" while Idol fronted a crunchy jam on T. Rex's "Bang a Gong (Get It On)." The only thing more jaw-dropping than the surprise of seeing them was how incredible it sounded when these stylistically disparate artists got together to pay tribute to their mutual musical icons.

2 / 15

Worst: Billy Idol Sings "Bonnaroo Woman"

MANCHESTER, TN - JUNE 15: Billy Idol performs during the 2013 Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival on June 15, 2013 in Manchester,
C Flanigan/Getty Images

Look, we're all for inserting the name of the festival as an ad-lib to make your set feel more intimate. And we're all for covers: Tom Petty took on Grateful Dead. Paul McCartney paid homage to Jimi Hendrix. But while covering the Doors' "L.A. Woman" during a late-night set, Billy Idol changed "L.A." to "Bonnaroo." This may not seem too odd until you say out loud, "You're my Bonnaroo woman!" to the tune of the Doors classic. Then it just sounds awkward.

3 / 15

Best: Deap Vally Rep Female Hard Rock

MANCHESTER, TN - JUNE 13: Julie Edwards (L) and Lindsey Troy of Deap Vally  perform during the 2013 Bonnaroo Music & Arts Fes
Gary Miller/WireImage

Bjork, St. Vincent and Cat Power were the big-name female artists on the Bonnaroo 2013 bill. And although they're all great, none of them properly tear it apart onstage. So L.A. fuzz rock duo Deap Valley was a much-needed shot of adrenaline/estrogen to the fest. Their Hole-meets-Zeppelin hard rock was a mind-shattering release.

4 / 15

Worst: Earl Sweatshirt Cancels Show Due to Illness

GEORGE, WA - MAY 26: Earl Sweatshirt performs as part of Day 3 of the Sasquatch! Music Festival at the Gorge Amphitheatre on
Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images

No one can fault the Odd Future rapper for having to cancel his Bonnaroo performance after contracting pneumonia. Still, we must now only dream of what antics the gifted emcee would've blessed both at his own show and as part of the Hip Hop Superjam Friday night.

5 / 15

Best: RZA's Superjam Advice

Ariel LeBeau for Fuse

During the RZA-led hip hop Superjam on Friday night, the Wu-Tang maestro—vodka bottle in hand—offered this sage, simple advice to the crowd: "If you don’t have a good time, you waste your time. If you waste your time, you waste your mind. So have a good time." True that.

6 / 15

Worst: R. Kelly's Crane Weirdness

MANCHESTER, TN - JUNE 15: R Kelly performs in concert during day 3 of the 2013 Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival on June 15, 201
Gary Miller/WireImage

In grand fashion, R. Kelly started his absurdist, brilliant and frustrating show performing "Ignition (Remix)" on a small crane platform 50 feet in the air. After a minute, the music stops, and, either by design or mistake, no music is played while thousands of people awkwardly, silently, watch Kelly's crane make its tortoise-slow descent towards the stage. It's like seeing a clown perform at a circus, then watching him remove his makeup in full view.

7 / 15

Best: Portugal. The Man Cover "Hey Jude" and "Helter Skelter"

MANCHESTER, TN - JUNE 15: John Gourley of Portugal. The Man performs during the 2013 Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival on June 1
Skip Bolen/WireImage

One day after Paul McCartney gave a three-hour master class in shows, which included a rousing singalong to "Hey Jude," Portland psych rock quintet Portugal. the Man ended their Saturday afternoon set by attaching their version of the song to the end of "Sleep Forever." Earlier in their set, the group tackled the Beatles' "Helter Skelter." And while both covers have been staples in the band's live show for a minute, they took on added resonance with the memory of a Beatle still fresh in fans' minds.

8 / 15

Worst: Wu-Tang Hands Fail

Ariel LeBeau for Fuse

During Wu-Tang Clan's raucous set on Friday, RZA urged the crowd to throw their Wu hands in the air. Ninety percent of the crowd obliged, but only 60 percent of those people actually knew what they were doing. Instead of signing the Staten Island crew's signature W, the rest of the crowd just awkwardly smashed their fingers together high above their heads. And bless his heart, one guy even threw up a "Live love and prosper" Vulcan-meets-Wu hand sign. A Bonnaroo fail, but a Star Trek win.

9 / 15

Best: Rap Duo Cloney

Jason Newman

Full disclosure: We just happened to stumble upon Hollywood-based hip hop duo described by one outlet as, "part concert, part performance art and part comedy routine." All of those are true, but we're including them for braving the 700-degree heat by wearing full tuxedos and George Clooney masks. Art is sacrifice.

10 / 15

Worst: Glow Sticks at Classic Rock Shows

Toronto, CANADA: Glow-sticks are held in downtown in memory of AIDS victims at the International AIDS Vigil on the final even
Geoff Robins/Getty Images

Hey, we're all for listening to and loving different genres of music. Man cannot live on hip hop or rock or electronic or (insert genre here) alone. But the EDM-ification of rock shows is a trend that starts and ends here, people. One girl was trying to give out glow stick bracelets and necklaces to a Paul McCartney crowd that probably wasn't reading DJMag.com daily. (Most people refused the glowing accoutrements.) At Tom Petty, a full-on raver appeared, dancing to "Free Fallin'" like TNGHT just dropped the horns of "Higher Ground." To each his own, but that's basically flashing an ultra-bright cell phone in our faces the whole show, man.

11 / 15

Best: Spotting 'Idol' Singer Paul McDonald at Jim James' Set

MANCHESTER, TN - JUNE 16: Musician Paul McDonald performs with The Revivalists onstage at the Sonic Stage during day 4 of the

Season 10 American Idol contestant Paul McDonald—who is married to Twilight actress Nikki Reed—was at Bonnaroo with a very special guest: His dad. Awwwww. The two watched Jim James' flawless Friday set and stuck around to check out the pop-up camping town of thousands that forms outside of the 'Roo every year.

12 / 15

Best: AraabMuzik Returns After Shooting

Ariel LeBeau

Six weeks after being shot in the stomach during an attempted robbery, AraabMuzik returned to the stage Thursday for his first set since the shooting. While his gait getting to the MPC—the drum machine that serves as his weapon of choice—may have been slower than normal, his dexterous, nimble hands remained, shuttling through a 45-minute set that inspired crowd surfing and stage diving. Speaking to Fuse after the set, the DJ said, "I felt that it was only right to be able to come out and show the world that I'm back. Bonnaroo is such a big festival. I'm sitting in the hospital like, 'Yo, I'm not missing Bonnaroo.'"

13 / 15

Best: Weird Al's Constant Costume Changes

MANCHESTER, TN - JUNE 15: "Weird Al" Yankovic perform onstage at The Other Tent during day 3 of the 2013 Bonnaroo Music & Art

Weird Al's Saturday night set included prerecorded skits in between songs, partly because they were hilarious, but also to bide time so Al could put on a different costume for nearly every damn song. We've got a whole photo gallery of it, but spoilers: Expect Cobain, Michael Jackson and a giant peacock costume.  

14 / 15

Best: Solange Joins Grizzly Bear for "Two Weeks"

MANCHESTER, TN - JUNE 15: Singer Solange performs onstage during day 3 of the 2013 Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival on June 15,
Jason Merritt/Getty Images

Aside from covering Dirty Projectors' "Stillness Is the Move" during her set and the Fugees' version of "Killing Me Softly" in the midst of the gloriously sloppy hip hop Superjam, Solange joined Brooklyn indie rockers Grizzly Bear onstage Saturday. She assisted on the Veckatimest single "Two Weeks," singing the part Beach House's Victoria Legrand handles on the studio version. So what did we learn at Bonnaroo 2013? Solange can (and will) sing anything.

15 / 15

Best: Paul McCartney Talks Russia

MANCHESTER, TN - JUNE 14: Sir Paul McCartney performs onstage at What Stage during day 2 of the 2013 Bonnaroo Music & Arts Fe
Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

In between calls to "Free Pussy Riot!", Paul McCartney offered Bonnaroo exaggerated impersonations of Russian government officials he'd recently met. "The defense minister told me, 'First record I buy is 'Love Me Do,'" McCartney recounted. And because he's a ham, his Russian accent sounded more cartoonish than the villains from Rocky & Bullwinkle.


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