My Super Bowl Halftime Show Story:We Did it for The Who!


marc super bowl
December 6th,2009 –
 

Just days after recovering from seeing Roger Daltrey’s solo concerts in Orlando, Ft. Myers and Hollywood, our friend Derick tips Mike off with a phone call about “Super Bowl Productions” requesting volunteers for the halftime show for Super Bowl XLIV. My first thought was “as extra fans on the field”? Of course it is soon confirmed that there would be no fans on the field during the halftime show performance. This would be some hard labor, but a labor of love.

 

   The website reveals an orientation for all volunteers scheduled for December 15th,2009 and asks all participants to print out and sign several waiver forms, which is a logical first step.

 

 
Tuesday – December 15th,2009-
 

   My facebook posts this day :

Heading to roadie school tonight! December 15, 2009 at 12:29pm

   I receive 50 comments with people wondering what I meant and some wishing us all luck!
 
  Mike, Rob, Scott, and myself – local friends and the usual road trip Who companions – head down to Nova University College in Davie, Florida to a theater on campus for the 6:30pm orientation. As we take our seats we are greeted to Who music blasting over the speakers, including some obscure songs. We now know that at least one person involved is pretty familiar with The Who’s music, not to mention that it certainly got us pumped up!
 
This is the first night we met Holly Silber and Cap Spence, the latter the Super Bowl Halftime show Production Manager. Holly introduced herself to the audience of about 450 before turning the microphone over to Cap, who’s been doing halftime
shows for the last 10 years. He went on to tell us that he first met with The Who about the stage set up design in October I believe. “I’ve been doing this for a long time and when I tell you that this is going to be the largest stage in halftime show
history, I am talking huge. Matter of fact, I told them that I don’t think we can get it done. We have only 5 minutes to set up a stage 5 times larger than any other in history. When I tell you’all that we have no time to waste, I  mean we have NO time

to waste”.

He went on to tell us some war stories, so that night we knew all about his personality. He was a very driven man and we all saw that in him. Cap allowed some questions from the audience and one of them was if we were able to stay

together in groups of friends and family if we chose to do so. And the answer was “yes”. We will find out that would not be the case later on, but it also would not matter.
 
                     The first rehearsal night was not until January 25th, a full 40 days away. I spent the next several weeks making excuses to get out of it by hoping to come up with some fairly affordable Super Bowl tickets. The endeavor felt overwhelming.
The premise felt too surreal, maybe even too much work for seeing our idols perform for 12 minutes. The lead up took us thru the stressful holiday season, which sought of plays tricks on your own mind. It’s the moody blues season for some of us.
    And it’s the moody season – period!
 
 
Monday- January 25th,2010 – Rehearsal One
 
Facebook post:

 
   It’s a new year and the first day of rehearsal is finally upon us! Our friends Brooke Smith and Jeff Langer meet us at the house and follow the four of us to the stadium. The six of us arrive to LandShark/Dolphins Stadium at appx. 5:30pm and
sign in for the 6-10pm scheduled rehearsal. We take a seat in the makeshift grandstands in front of a temporary football field about 200 yards
from the stadium.
    Looking around it appeared to be appx. 500 or so people milling about on the sidelines and in the stands. We are told to the right of the bleachers are boxed meals for us. Turkey, Ham, Veggie, or Salami sandwiches –each with chips, cookies, fruit cup, etc and about four large orange coolers with gatorade, coffee or water to choose from.

     The stage set up coordinator, Marcus, chooses teams of 10-15 per each of the appx. 40 stage pieces that are all on wheels.We are disappointed to learn that the promise during our orientation 40 days ago about how we could be on the same crew/team turns out to not be true. Brooke and Jeff go their separate ways to their radial stage pieces. Rob ends up on Brooke’s team. Scott, Mike, and I are all on separate teams but we are lined up right next to each other in order of pieces. All four of our pieces are among the last one’s to go in place for the final stage completion.

 

   The first day is just learning how to move the wheeled pieces forward and back and side to side and also how to turn and shift the momentum and direction without tearing up the expensive grass of Dolphins stadium. This night was cool, about 50 degrees. Most of the stage pieces were wheeled back into white tents to the North of the stadium. One of the main cart leader’s and Who fan ,Stu, was here and promised to let us know when any band rehearsals were going to happen before the dress rehearsal day on Feb.4th, but it would never happen. That’s ok though,as we will find out! A little Who party at the Starcke’s house afterwards! Which we will do a few times in the next week and a half.

    Day one of stage setup rehearsals for the SB Halftime show over. Had a lot of fun, made a bunch of new friends. It seemed that we were the only Who freaks there.

 

 
Wednesday- January 27th,2010- Rehearsal Two
 
Another 6-10pm rehearsal. We arrive around 5:45pm to another cool night. On this night we parade in a certain order on the makeshift football field with  a makeshift tunnel entrance designed to look like the actual tunnel entrance. We practice setting up the full stage design a few times but it takes us about 40 minutes to do so each time. I was thinking about how we are going to get this down to 5 minutes in just 5 more rehearsal days?!  As Cap said over and over: “Smooth is fast, fast is smooth”.

Some people did not come back tonight but some new ones showed up. At the end of the night they told us that they still need 120 people.  Ran into some more Who friends this night with Matt and also Eileen from the West Coast . Matt got a job rolling cable out onto the field and toward the stage. Damn, I want that job.

 

 
Thursday – January 28th,2010- Rehearsal Three
 

Facebook post:

 

Day three of Super Bowl halftime stage setup rehearsals done. Put the stage together three times tonight, each time was done faster.

 

We’re starting to gel and I am really enjoying the company of my new friends and teammates – Carl, Jim ,Lu, Patricia, Margarite, Art, Tonya and the rest of the gang. The temps have been nice and cool , perfect to do our work in. Again, it’s only getting better with each night’s practice.
 
 
Friday – January 29th,2010- Rehearsal Four (first Stadium rehearsal)
 
We enter the stadium for the first time to do a couple of stage set up runs in the real place. The entire field is covered in a tarp to prevent any tearing up of the grass. The confidence builds even higher as we do a great job in getting our time down to under 10 minutes and in the actual stadium! The process was to set up the entire stage and then break it down and get it off the field as fast as we put it together so

the pro’s can get the field ready for the second half of football! But the last run ends with the stage kept in place. Hmmm, we wonder why?

 

As it approached 10pm , Holly announces for all of us to clear out and tells us goodnight. Stu, our Pro roadie friend, ends up calling us at home around 15 minutes after midnight to tell us that The Who came out and rehearsed at 11:30pm. Stu apologizes and says it was a surprise. We are not so sure about that, and disappointed. Would it hurt to let the volunteers watch the band’s rehearsal?
Maybe a small reward for our hard work?
 
 
Tuesday – February 2nd, 2010- Rehearsal Five –
 
Joyce arrives from Boston after it is confirmed that volunteers are still needed. We all arrive at rehearsals at 6pm and it’s back outside to the makeshift field. I question why? Nonetheless, there are raised square metal/steel drains that we have been wary of that are located on this makeshift field. But we have it down to a tee now and our pro roadie cart leaders seem to have a grip as well. Another night of immense

improvement in time. Up to this point there had been no major accidents despite one minor injury a rehearsal night or two before tonight where a man fell between a stage lighting rig and aggravated an existing leg injury. Thankfully he was ok.

 

  About halfway thru the night I am out on the starting field resting with my crew when I hear a lot of screaming toward the middle of the main stage piece area on the makeshift field and I then see hundreds of people running in that direction.The reaction immediately alerts me that this is no small accident.

 

As I am able to get closer to the scene,I notice the stage section that was carrying the drums and some amps,was turned over on it’s side and all the aforementioned equipment was laying on top of people.Apparently at least one person had the stage hit him.I immediately held c-spine traction on one female who had a large amplifier pulled off of her.She complained of back,side,and leg injuries. Metro-Dade Fire Rescue had a detail unit (cart) on scene but there were about 6 or 7 people hurt. Two of them ended up being flown to a trauma unit via helicopter and two others by Rescue.We were so lucky there were no serious injuries,as we found out the next day.During the treatment phase of the victims, Cap and his great team were able to get everyone of the remaining 500 volunteers to get seated in the bleachers while the Fire Rescue crews attended to the injured.I was still out on the field holding c-spine until complete immobilization was in place.Cap tried to keep us calm and some people thought he made some insensitive comments and told him this in private.There was no more rehearsals tonight,I believe we did one run only.But the main thoughts and prayers were with those who were hurt.
 
 
Wednesday – February 3rd,2010- Rehearsal Six-

 
As mentioned, it was confirmed that the four of the most serious of the injured were going to be fine.X-rays were negative for any fractures or other serious injuries.All four were released from the hospital but Cap announced that none of the four would physically be able to participate in the rehearsals but would be allowed to see the dress rehearsals.I wanted to find out if they were able to see the Super Bowl halftime show with us or not.Nonetheless,glad they are ok. After this announcement, Cap went on to tell us that he was approached by one or two people who told him that he had made inappropriate and insensitive comments while the injured were still being treated on the field. As Cap started to tell this to us, he broke down in tears — he could barely speak.Between the accident and this moment, I had a feeling that we all were now as close as can be.And now was the time to really dig in. We were told that the wheels were reinforced and all of the carts were made much safer. No one said this was going to be easy.As it turns out,I felt as though this was our best rehearsal day.We did three or four  stage setup runs and got our time down to 7 minutes on a average. Time for dress rehearsals with The Who tomorrow. Wow!
 
 

Thursday – February 4th, 2010- Rehearsal Seven (DRESS REHEARSAL)

 

Brooke and Jeff arrived to the stadium around 2:30pm.The rest of us arrive about 3:15pm.We start outside and receive our wristband’s for entry into the stadium.This was the day we all have been waiting for.We setup the stage fairly early on and then went back outside for a break.

 

At around 5:30 we pile back into the stadium to take a seat in the stadium stands.At about 6pm,the sound techs do a soundcheck for The Who. I then spend a little time by going down and over to where a high school buddy was standing.Glenn Roth was one of the SB camera men.He has been a camera man at most Marlins games,Fins games,the biggest golf and tennis tournaments for CBS.As well as the NFL on CBS.

 

The Who came out as daylight still loomed by twilight lurked.It reminded me of the last time they were in this very same stadium more than 20 years ago. They did a first 12 minute set at appx. 6:45pm or so. It was unbelievable,they sounded great! The sound was a little low in the mix though. Ok,now it was on.We would break down the stage and set it back up for The Who in appx. 5 minutes each time.

The Who performed their Super Bowl set three more times,each time with more special effects,lasers,pyro,etc. The Who sounded better each time! So,yes…we set it up for them several times,each time in 5 minutes.FULL DRESS REHEARSALS.

There I was on the sidelines each time windmilling my arm so much that I feared that I would injure myself before Sunday. One thing I knew for sure was that we were as ready as we can be for Sunday.

Back to the Starcke’s house to watch The Who’s press conference that I taped earlier and to celebrate our accomplishment tonight.

We put in a 7 hour day with 600 hundred of us. Next stop…the SUPER BOWL!
 
 
Sunday – February 7th, 2010- Game Day
  
 SUMMARY:
 
Mike,Joyce,Crazy Rob,Scott,Matt,Brooke,Jeff,and myself and about 600 others setup the largest most complicated and elaborate stage in Super Bowl halftime show history in 4 minutes.The rest of the few minutes needed were for the pro techs to plug everything in.Thank you for everyone of my friends here that supported our dream!!! THE WHO rocked and my adrenaline was beyond comprehension! The whole two weeks of this has been both surreal and AMAZING!
 
 
The day started off with all of us driving over to Nova University College (where it all began almost two months ago) at 3pm to wait for our buses to take us over to the stadium. As we arrived, we all received black long sleeved shirts with a Who patch logo on the shoulder/arm and the Bridgestone Super Bowl halftime logo on the left breast area.Sharp looking shirts!
The excitement and tension was building.We took about 10-15 busses via police escort to Dolphins/SunLife Stadium at around 5:45pm. As we approached the stadium we can now see the massive cars and huge scene of Super Bowl XLIV and reality set in.
 
We got our radial stage pieces out of the tents,team by team.I can hear Queen Latifah and Carrie Underwood singing their anthems and then the jets did their flyover.We were located by Pete’s bus and where the pro roadie’s catered meal tents were. We were about 100 yards from the stadium or less.
 
6:30pm, the game finally kicks off.Cap does a great prep speech and then I peak at the game on the tv in one of the resting tents.But I am too nervous to really care other than I wanted the snail paced time to speed up.
 

7:30pm, we are all in place.From now one between the cart leaders and my friend Scott,who’s team was right behind us, the countdown was coming in minute by minute. Last thing I heard was “there’s 11 seconds left til halftime. The Saints,I believe,run out the clock on a last second field goal. Now we’re just waiting for that cue.

 

The hearts-a-pumpin’ man! I look back at Scott, then Mike,who’s team was behind him,then at Rob and Brooke.But then my focus went onto my teammates,I told them to remember to go in on the straight angle between the goal post and the cement wall and to NOT turn until we were comfortably past both so as to not scrape the tunnel wall.

 

We were lined up piece by piece for the length of two football fields just waiting for the countdown.I felt like I was the one going out there to sing.How selfish to feel that way? Maybe it was the same adrenaline Roger and Pete were feeling but on peon man’s scale,LOL!When the cue came at close to 8pm, we actually cheered, as if this was Braveheart and we were warriors going into battle! We went into that stadium cheering with both hands on our stage piece with each piece manned by anywhere between 10-15 men and women, who we spent 7 days of rehearsing with over a 12 day period.

 
First thing we see that we’ve not seen before? 80,000 people.
 
We cleared the goal post and wall more easily than we ever had before,and now we gained momentum as we were in a running motion toward our space and link to the whole stage.We were one of the last ones in to complete it.
 

We got it all setup and ran off to the sidelines to watch The Who! The closest ones to them were us,other than cameramen and some of the bigger wigs.As Mike mentioned,some have criticized Roger’s vocals,but those are from people that might only know his voice from the studio recordings where he obviously sings BOR angelicly — almost 40 years ago! It can be a little bit of a shocker if you’ve not heard the man sing live in 30 years or if you are just not familiar with Roger’s live singing voice.

 


Some other non Who fan mentioned that Roger sounded awfully winded during the final song.
Roger can still do 50 shows with 2 hrs each night and not get too winded.It’s
his vocals we worry about as far as health goes.He has major problems.Matter of fact he just had laser surgery on his cords about 2 months ago.Also,when you walk out on stage knowing you’re going to be watched by 800 million people world wide,I guarantee they (Pete and Rog) were both winded by the nerves and adrenaline before they ever hit the stage.

I have a one hour Bruce Springsteen video journal of his Super Bowl halftime show journey last year and he was completely winded after the first song,he even said so after the performance was over. I then analyzed his performance and can hear him huffing and puffing and struggling to get thru it.He also said afterwards “I had about 5 heart attacks while I was out there”.

But did anyone else notice anything other than a rather kick ass performance by Bruce and the E Street band?! I can tell by my 27 years experience of seeing The Who live that they were a bit nervous.You have one 12 minute shot at not making a fool of yourself in from a billion people (unwittingly,like equipment failure or Roger’s vocals going into spasm or Pete doing a header)…and I think The Who did quite the opposite,IMO they just gained a million new fans!

 
Pete rocked, Zak wailed the drums,Roger sang better than ever despite what the untrained ears know. Rabbit was great.Pino thumped those bass lines! Simon held it down with great and loud thunderous rhythm guitar!

You saw it for yourself,The Who made us proud this night! My 600 new friends made me proud this night.My brother and my closest friends were all proud this night!!

Marc

 

 

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