Red Hot Chili Peppers Revealed Unplugged Gear Usage on the Super Bowl Half-Time Show

At the same time, the band didn't mute the vocals.

Red Hot Chili Peppers Revealed Unplugged Gear Usage on the Super Bowl Half-Time Show
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Red Hot Chili Peppers have confirmed that their instruments were not plugged in during their Super Bowl performance on February 2.

As NME notes, the band appeared as guests of Bruno Mars at the half-time show at New Jersey's MetLife Stadium. The performance attracted the largest audience in the history of the sporting event, pulling in 115.3 million viewers.

During the show, many social media users commented that the band's instruments did not appear to be plugged in. Blues guitarist blues artist Joe Bonamassa tweeted: "Flea… I mean we all know, but for god's sake at least try to humor the children." Living Color guitarist Vernon Reid writing: "That guitar is plugged into NOTHING."

In a long message on the Red Hot Chili Peppers website, bassist Flea explains that the bass, drums and guitar were not amplified or plugged in, but the vocals were.

He writes that the band were offered no other option by Super Bowl organisers NFL, and following careful consideration decided to go ahead and appear at the event in spite of having to mime.

"So, when this Super Bowl gig concept came up, there was a lot of confusion amongst us as whether or not we should do it, but we eventually decided, it was a surreal-like, once in a life time crazy thing to do and we would just have fun and do it ... We decided that, with Anthony singing live, that we could still bring the spirit and freedom of what we do into the performance, and of course we played every note in the recording specially for the gig."

He adds that the decision not to pretend to be plugged in was deliberate. "Could we have plugged them in and avoided bumming people out who have expressed disappointment that the instrumental track was pre recorded? Of course easily we could have and this would be a non-issue. We thought it better to not pretend. It seemed like the realest thing to do in the circumstance."

110 comments sorted by best / new / date

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    GeriatricNinja
    This is how to mime:
    Way Cool JR.
    Just one more reason to love Iron Maiden! Them dudes are just so awesome. The people in the crowd looked completely mind f*ked.
    Guns N' Chains
    It obviously has to be taken as a joke to spite someone or something because it is obvious none of them are live. Sucks.
    DickHardwood
    Or, the could have swapped places like Muse did on that italian show, it would be awesome.
    alfie9000
    Or should of done a Nirvana
    Danjo's Guitar
    If you read what flea wrote, they have already done that, they actually got kicked off that exact show because they refused to play along. Given the circumstances I don't think its a big deal that they decided to do it.
    ljpfahey
    Squeeze swapped places for a mime long before Muse. Can't find the clip but I think it was TOTP or Old Grey Whistle Test and Jools Holland was on drums.
    travislausch
    That actually kind of makes sense from the Peppers' point of view. Too bad the NFL doesn't believe in letting performers perform! Edit, upon reading it, it all makes sense. I think they should make that recorded backing track available for download or purchase!
    jrodgers
    From what I understand, there just isn't enough time available for musicians to sound check for super bowl halftime shows. During super bowl week there's so much going on in the stadium, that there's barely any time leftover for the hundreds of performers and backstage hands to rehearse and coordinate these shows. So due to how much is going on besides the music being performed itself, live instruments must be sacrificed. If they DID plug in, it would most likely sound like complete crap. It is unfortunate though, I would much rather get rid of all the crazy stage set-ups, dancers, flashing lights, props, and all that other extra stuff to hear a great live band like RHCP actually play.
    Guns N' Chains
    I agree with your ending comments but backtracking to your earlier comments, what's the point of live music then? Why in this day in age people/artists/bands are so afraid to perform their actual song LIVE baffles me. If the NFL/SuperBowl organizers can't understand live music is an art, why even bother? I know its for entertainment but its "fake" entertainment that has been rather bad over the last few years (minus Slash).
    jrodgers
    The problem, my friend, is that the superbowl halftime show is not about "the art of live music". Its about retaining the most amount of attention possible to the televsion screen for about a 10 minute period while the game has stopped. Its a beer and bean dip distraction. If the networks thought that showing monkeys fling poop at each other for 10 minutes would draw better ratings, they would in fact be doing that instead. If I want to see some great artists perform some great live music, the super bowl halftime show is not where i'm looking to see it.
    dewitt
    Prince played what was arguably the best Super Bowl halftime show yet, and he was one of the only ones (along with the Stones - who sounded terrible) to actually play live.
    xxdarrenxx
    I agree. Sound projection in a stadium is one of the most difficult things to get good. Even if they had a 10 hour sound check, it's a boxed in place and big, thus you need to be loud. This would mean huge reflections, which distort, phase issues, hearing annoying delays at certain spots etc. It's just a really hard environment and requires an almost (if not done already) scientific approach in terms of the acoustics and sound directions.
    HitmanJenkins
    Yeah, one guy I was arguing with earlier said that they should've at least done a line check, but even that takes time and, due to the reasons you've stated, it would be impossible to get the sound right in that short amount of time.
    K33nbl4d3
    This. Flea pointed as much out in his full statement on the subject; they have a few minutes to set up a stage, and each person actually plugged in is another dozen things to go wrong, and another however-long of soundchecks if they want it to sound decent.
    The_Wilrus
    Like Springsteen's simple stage. My favorite Halftime show since JT and JJ....
    Maiden95
    I can't believe people are making such a big deal about this. It's the NFL's rule.. meaning THEY ARE NOT THE FIRST NOR THE LAST TO DO IT. THE SECRET IS OUT FOLKS. Why isn't anybody going on about Bruno's band (which was fantastic) blowing their trumpets into the air without mics? Come on people. Oh and Vernon Reid is STILL in Living Colour, UG.
    Jacques Nel
    Probably can't blame them if they had no other choice. Better than Rihanna...on her South African tour she lip-synced all the way through.
    HarvesterofPain
    It's not like it wasn't obvious, but props to the band for coming clean right off the bat.
    K33nbl4d3
    I think the whole point was to make it obvious, no? So they wouldn't be accused of lying etc.
    dan.zoum
    Miming is lame. But the chili peppers did the show, with live vocals, and gave their all on that stage even if we couldn't hear their instruments. It was still an excellent show, and I enjoyed it. I respect that they chose not to plug in. They didn't try to fake it, they deliberately chose not to plug in even a wireless pack. The peppers weren't looking to fool anyone.
    HitmanJenkins
    They also recorded a version of that song during the day or the day before as well, so it's not like they had the original album version playing in the background either, that was as live as they could've gotten under the circumstances. Props to them.
    sideslick
    They played a different New York show the day before the Super Bowl. It was probably the guitar, bass, and drums from that performance.
    badfish_lewis
    Too big a risk to have something go wrong. I can understand the NFL's position on this. At least RHCP were honest about it, although it was blatantly obvious
    eddiehimself
    The London Philharmonic Orchestra had to do the same thing at the 2012 Olympics. You don't hear anyone calling them fake-ass bitches. Why should RHCP be any different?
    dudester410
    Although im not familiar with the london orchestra you mention, you're entirely right. Some will go as far as to say that they're fake as hell for doing what they did, but in all honesty if I had the opportunity to just rock the hell out in such a crowd to such a funky ass beat, you bet your ass ill be as into the groove and show as humanly possible. Given the circumstances that he superbowl undergoes, its only just, and RHCP dont deserve any discredibility from something they worked so hard to come to - come on guys, these the chili peps, theyve been around forever and SOMEONE stepped up and was like "Yo, these dudes are the bombest, they deserve to play this as much as i do" and they took that offer up. Knowing the chili peps, and form their statements, they wouldve played it live anyways; would it have been just as energetic on stage? Who knows, but regardless, for the sake of entertainment they did their job and proved their legacy once again. Yeah, this was a bit of a long post, but ive seen so many comments on the web about these guys sucking ass because of this one show that im just fed up with all this out-of-nowhere hate on such an inspirational band, long live red hot!
    jamie_hough
    Seriously though, we all know miming is lame - regardless of who does it. And most of the time, whether its a pop star, an orchestra or a rock group, the main driving factor behind it is $$$$$. RHCP giving that statement is just them trying to keep an ounce of credibility after they undoubtedly sold a little of their souls to do the halftime show. I dunno though Im from the UK, maybe we don't 'get' the superbowl.
    JAHellraiser
    how did they sell "a little of their souls" for the couple minutes they performed? all they did was record the instruments for one song, becuase like flea's letter said, the NFL don't want the sound of the performance to suffer because of how quickly they need to set up the stage and rearrange it. If they were doing this for an entire tour, and we just found out then I could understand an outrage. but they did it for one song, as part of a show that they were "special guests" of for the actual act.
    jamie_hough
    I agree with this - good point about it only being a one off. But if an artist (particularly a pop artist) mimes, everyone loses their minds. Why are the goalposts being moved for them? I personally don't really care one way or the other, it just seems a bit hypocritical.
    dewitt
    Because when pop artists do it, it's in many ways an admission that they can't perform their own material (whether it's beyond their ability or just impractical to recreate is another issue). We all know that RHCP can play the shit out of their stuff live, so that means they're actually capable of performing what they record. We can forgive them for miming one song for what is essentially a dream come true 'performance' for many artists. Flea hinted that they probably wouldn't have done it as the main act, but since it was just for one song as a special guest, they could have fun doing it and still be able to live with their decisions later.
    warren.pearson8
    Also, here is a fun fact for you, artists dont get paid for the half time show.
    Bart123
    Because they'll earn bigtime $$$$ from this regardless.... It's like saying, omg Pepsi didn't get paid to play their ads!
    KingKrisKhan
    Yeah, because anyone who plays anywhere on TV or in a stadium practically drowns in money! Hell, they must've gotten money for uh...for uh..yeah, they're rich! They got paid mad dollars!
    Bart123
    I am not generalizing, you are. You're a simpleton if you think playing in front of 115.3 million viewers won't boost their popularity. Their management will be able to ask more money for them to perform anywhere else + probably a significant increase in records and merchandise sales.
    ReldvS
    cuz the London Philharmonic doesn't have a reputation in a community of musician where being REAL is as important as the music you make. i think they should have done what other bands do and passively protest by making it even more obvious like other examples on here have mentioned.