By Adrian Cavlan:
Well, firstly, we’d like to thank the San Francisco 49ers players and organization for all of the incredibly hard work they put in on and off the field to reach the Super Bowl in 2012 season. If you really think about it, this has been a most incredible turnaround for one of the NFL’s marquee franchises that had had so many frustrating years since its last championship season in 1994: some near misses (let’s call those the Jeff Garcia years) and some just plain bad football (uh, see Dennis Erickson, 2004). Coach Jim Harbaugh, his staff and some outstanding players sure have made it fun to be a 49ers fan again this last couple of years!
So, where do we come in? Well, in a nutshell, for the last seven years, we have done the music for the 49ers. Whether it’s at Candlestick Park’s main entrance, where you’ll hear DJ’s Kevin O’Scanlon or King Raffi playing some great music, or it’s inside the stadium, where I (DJ Adrian Cavlan) am playing anything from cheerleader mixes and player’s choice Rap songs during warmup to the famous “Defense Drums” prompts and yes, the famous Golden Gate Bridge FOG HORN when we score, Sound In Motion’s musical imprint is all over your game day experience.
This year was an exceptional one for our team, and before we knew it, the regular season was over and it was on to the playoffs. We had earned a bye, so in the second week the Green Bay Packers came in and, well, got a good look at the back of quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s jersey pulling away from them on Usain Bolt-like scrambles for huge gains.
Once Green Bay was dispatched, it was on to Atlanta to face the Falcons, who had just barely escaped being beaten by the suddenly-very-scary Seattle Seahawks. Our club was confident going in to Atlanta, but following our recent trend, we ended up starting slowly and found ourselves almost left for dead by halftime; but our boys weren’t quite finished yet. The ensuing half was nothing but a blaze of Red and Gold and our 49ers roared back and won 28-24, which meant that…
WE WERE GOING TO THE SUPER BOWL!
At first it didn’t seem real – but it was! And it was to be held in New Orleans, no less – one of the most unique cities in the country. Now, for those of you not in the know, the NFL itself – not the individual teams who are playing – produces the entire Super Bowl game day presentation. That meant that we would not be actually playing the music during the game. Instead, we were to create it as spec’d by the team and the league and then supply it to them to be played in the game when play on the field was relevant to our team (i.e. our team entrance, our kickoffs, our scores, our big plays, etc.). Regardless, we made it known to the people we report to the organization that we hoped we might be able to hop on a plane and attend the game if at all possible.
About a week prior to the game, that wonderful email came: there were two tickets! After some internal discussion and scheduling considerations, it was decided that I and my wife would be able to take the trip to the Crescent City and attend the game. Needless to say, we were thrilled and after a blur of making arrangements to be gone for nearly a week, we found ourselves landing in Jackson, MS on Thursday (yeah – try getting a flight to NOLA during Super Bowl week, let alone a hotel room) and driving a rental car through the Deep South for a couple of hours. We ended up being fortunate enough to stay with some good friends who live in the Bywater section of town and from there, proceeded to enjoy as many facets of this fine city as we could during our stay.
Out and about on day one –
Friday was a great day. We started by making the requisite trip to Cafe Du Monde for the world-famous beignets and chicory coffee and then went to see tons of great live music on the NFC and AFC stages at Super Bowl Boulevard and Champion’s Square. It was just amazing – every type of local food vendor you could imagine and free entertainment from some of New Orleans’ most famous musicians. That night, we went out for dinner and more music on the mighty Mississippi River aboard the Natchez, an authentic paddle wheel riverboat. It was a great experience and the band, The Smoking Time Jazz Club, was seriously a-mazing.
And just when we thought that we were done with a full day of entertainment, we walk off the boat and NOLA native son Trombone Shorty and his band took the stage and practically blew up the square! He assumed a stance with his trombone that somehow brought to mind an archer furiously trying to launch a slew of arrows over the top of a mountain, and the sound: pumping, pushing, stomping… it was an aural cavalry charge! It was really something, and the largely local crowd was eating it up. One of the local “Yats” even showed a whole group of us who to properly “Second Line” with the band. It was soooo fun : )
VIPs – who, us?
The next day found us up and around and in touch with some of our music industry friends who were in town, and before we knew it, a truly surreal ride began: what we’ll call “The VIP Experience”… yeah, I know – surreal. Without going crazy with the details, let me try to explain what Saturday and Sunday turned into. VIP passes to the DirecTV Celebrity Beach Bowl, where we enjoyed the first of several consecutive open gourmet buffets and fully hosted bars (…ahhem). Then, it was followed by a concert for us by Pitbull.
We then went out to the best restaurant in New Orleans, the Cochon Butcher (look it up), and proceeded to wait for our next set of passes that would get us into the CMT party that featured Journey and Rascal Flatts playing live simultaneously together, splitting repertoire. That was fun, but then came the big one: thanks to our good friend Fred T, per Mark Cuban, we were being put on his guest list for the evening’s private DirecTV party featuring a performance by Justin Timberlake and Jay Z… hosted bar, food, yada yada… HOLY cow EPIC, right?
Surreal. How did we get hooked on this awesome ride? After that, it was a walk through the French Quarter, which was firing at full power due to the fact that not only was everyone in town now for tomorrow’s game but also it was the week before Mardi Gras, so the beads were literally flying through the air and just coming down like rain, for block after block, as far as the eye could see in any direction. Indescribable. Look: New Orleans can out-party where you live, bang-DONE, ok? Ok.
SUPER BOWL Sunday
I am a huge sports fan, first and foremost, and I never had lost sight of why we all were here. At 5:30pm local time, there was a big football game to be played, and in the morning I could already feel my anxiety going up for this. Obviously, I SO hoped we would win this thing, and honestly, I felt like there was a good chance we would. In the second half of this year, we had seen that when the 49ers offense was in gear, it pretty much couldn’t be stopped. We had too many weapons, and defenses can’t stop them all at the same time. I had a gut feeling the week before the game that we were going to score 35 points. I didn’t know if we’d win or not, but that was my gut and it came very close to happening like that. True to recent form, a slow start ended up killing us.
I feel that the now-infamous power outage that I brought with me from Candlestick and deployed at what I thought was a good time in the game was perhaps the only reason we were able to make it that close. It was as if a fog got lifted off of us or that we emerged from a trance of sorts, because the team you saw after that power outage was the team we San Franciscans were used to seeing. Anyway, it happened as it did, and as much as it pains me to say it, Baltimore evidently deserved to win. I have a feeling our young team will be back, though, and hopefully ring number six isn’t far off for our Faithful.
Now backtracking in the continuing saga of the surreal VIP Experience, that morning, we found out that we were invited to attend the team’s private after-game party. In talking with some of our associates, we were thinking how different that experience might be if we won versus lost the game. Regardless, we would be in a relatively small room seeing The Roots, Snoop Dogg (er, Lion?) and Wale perform at our party, along with what was the best buffet yet and yes, the requisite hosted premium bar.
It was a great party, though with the length of the week and the emotional toll of an intense game on us, my wife and I were only able to make it until about 2am before we had to concede and try to get a cab home (and I must add that getting cabs at night in New Orleans was the worst and sketchiest part of the whole trip… not once did those guys run a meter or communicate via radio and for the most part, we had to bribe them to take us even the couple of miles from downtown that we were staying).
Back to reality : )
In conclusion, we are just so thankful that we were able to take such an incredible trip and to those who made it all possible (there were a lot of you and you all know who you are) we are eternally grateful. Lastly, I’d like to thank the good people of New Orleans. Nowhere in my travels have I encountered a local population that is so happy that you have come to visit and is so excited to share their unique flavors and culture with you. Besides the goofy cab drivers, we didn’t meet one nasty person in the entire time we were there. My advice to you, dear reader? GO. VISIT. ENJOY!