Neil Young's 26th annual Bridge School benefit concerts made their way to the Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, California this weekend, giving Bay Area music fans two days of a killer lineup, surprise guests, wild collaborations and other unexpected thrills. From Eddie Vedder's unannounced performance to Reggie Watts beat-boxing for the Flaming Lips, from Axl Rose and Neil Young's duet to the all-star finales, this year's Bridge School concerts were yet another unforgettable event in the festival's now-storied history. If you couldn't make it out to Mountain View this weekend, check out this gallery to experience all the highlights from this weekend's shows.
Foster the People's Mark Foster told the audience they were surprised by the invitation to the all-acoustic Bridge School benefit since the band consider themselves an "electronic" band. Foster also joked that the whole experience had inspired him to pen an acoustic album.
Per tradition, Ben from the Bridge School kicked off the benefit with a traditional Native American hoop dance while Neil Young serenaded the students with "Sugar Mountain."
Eddie Vedder was able to soak in the Bridge School performances quietly, without being spotted. The Pearl Jam singer would later provide the biggest surprise of Day One by playing two songs prior to Guns N' Roses' set.
Jack White switched backing bands between the two shows. The first night, White fronted his all-female backing band; the second night, it was all dudes.
Neil and Pegi Young shared a duet to kick off the festivities on both days of the Bridge School Benefit. On Saturday, the couple performed "Comes a Time." The following day, they sang "Long May You Run."
Axl Rose and Guns N' Roses provided one of the benefit's best moments when Neil Young came out onstage to perform "Don't Let It Bring You Down" with the Chinese Democracy crew. "Pretty fucking awesome," Rose told the crowd after sharing the mic with Young.
Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers delivered top-notch bluegrass as well as some great laughs. "This next song is a sing-along, but there are no lyrics, so good luck," Martin joked.
Wayne Coyne and the Flaming Lips were joined by comedian/human beatbox Reggie Watts for both of their performances. Both nights, the Lips went heavy on the Yoshimi with "Fight Test," "Yoshimi vs. the Pink Robots" and "It's Summertime," plus a cover of the Beatles' "A Day in the Life" to conclude both sets.
Sarah McLachlan is a seasoned vet when it comes to Bridge School benefits. This was the third time she's played Neil Young's fest, so she knew what the fans wanted: a hits-filled set featuring "Angel," "Building a Mystery" and "Adia."
Neil Young and Crazy Horse spent their headlining set showcasing music from their upcoming album Psychedelic Pill. In addition to "Twisted Road" and "Ramada Inn," the all-acoustic format breathed new life into old favorites such as "Powderfinger" and "Like a Hurricane."
It was rumored that Eddie Vedder was recruited just in case Guns N' Roses cancelled, but the fans in attendance on Day One of the Bridge School fest got the best of both worlds as Vedder performed a pair of songs – "Last Kiss" and "Elderly Woman" – prior to GNR's set.
Ray LaMontagne didn't hide the hits in his five-song set, delivering heartfelt renditions of "Trouble," "Beg, Steal or Borrow" and "Like Rock & Roll and Radio." On Day Two of the Bridge School fest, LaMontagne also appeared during Lucinda Williams' set to duet with the singer.
The traditional concert-ending "Rockin' in the Free World" all-star jam featured Bridge School performers including Vedder, Gary Clark Jr., the Flaming Lips, Foster the People and even the Steep Canyon Rangers, as well as some people just hanging out backstage, like X's John Doe and Willie Nelson's son Lukas.