Coachella 2013: R. Kelly surprises crowd during Phoenix’s set

04.14.13 5 years ago

Denis O’Regan/Coachella

Where’s the after-party?

Coachella fans were surprised by a late night appearance by superstar R. Kelly during Phoenix’s headlining set Saturday night.
The French pop group has built a huge following Stateside, with their latest record, “Bankrupt,” hitting shelves later this month. They were the closing act on the main stage Saturday at the three-day music festival in Indio, California. It also featured 2 Chainz, The Postal Service, Janelle Monae, New Order, and dozens more on Saturday.

With Icelandic group Sigur Ros playing the nearby outdoor theater stage at the same time, Phoenix was clearly the biggest draw of the day, with tens of thousands of fest-goers cramming into the massive field in front of the main stage.

The group featured a refreshingly simple stage setup, with sparse adornments and some subtle lighting cues. Their danceable rock is likewise clean and slick, and fans grooved happily away to such hits as “1901,” “Lisztomania” and the new single “Entertainment.”

After an hour or so of performing, the stage went dark, and a familiar refrain kicked in. Soon, the band was burning through a faithful rendition of Kelly’s 2003 smash “Ignition (Remix),” and fans were awed when the pied piper of R&B got onstage and sang what is arguably his signature song.

His vocals as smooth as ever, and matching the band’s guitar-heavy take on the song, Kelly looked at home on the stage, begging the question: Will R. Kelly headline Coachella anytime soon?

Needless to say, it was the perfect capper to a great day of music. 

Kelly’s appearance marked one of the biggest surprises of the fest so far, despite numerous rumors of other special appearances which failed to come to fruition. According to rumblings, Prince was going to appear during Monae’s smoking hot set (he didn’t); Snoop Dogg was to join Major Lazer onstage (he didn’t); and, most persistent, Daft Punk was planning a surprise appearance in some capacity, including the rumor that the French DJ duo would spin records on one of the parking shuttle buses (they didn’t — at least, not on my shuttle).

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