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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.'"
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.
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.
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.