What I Learned from the Super Bowl 52 Halftime Show: Part 1

Hold on. This isn’t about the quality of Justin Timberlake’s dance moves during the snippet of “SexyBack” (yeah!) or how the show would have been SO much better with an N*SYNC reunion. Give me a couple of paragraphs worth of time to explain this.

One night, in a bout of typical insomnia, I noticed one of the local Minnesota news stations asking for people to sign up to work during the Super Bowl Halftime Show since it was hosted in Minneapolis. Because it was 3am and I was lacking sleep, I signed up. I assumed there would be 6,000,727 other people that did the same.

Two days later, I got an email congratulating me for being selected as a Field Team Member for the Halftime Show. I had no idea what that meant or what I’d be doing, but OKAY LET’S DO THIS. That was in early December.

We had our orientation in mid-January at a church that was being used as a hub for a lot of training, located right in the middle of the chaos that was being built up in downtown Minneapolis during that time. Roads were closed. It was cold. Parking garages were taken over by weird equipment. There were gigantic tents built in empty parking lots. I was whiny and told my wife, who I was leaving at home with our three year old and two week old, that if orientation was dumb, I wasn’t going to do it.

This is what it looked like while we waited. It’s pretty top secret:

After about 400 people checked in to this optional orientation, we started by watching the Lady Gaga Super Bowl Halftime show. It’s worth sharing.

Then we’re introduced to a guy named Cap Spence. Bookmark this link to read about him sometime. I wish everyone could work for a Cap Spence at some point in their life. He has stories and, man, does he have stories.

For 1.5 hours, Cap made sure we were clear about our expectations in being a Field Team Member. We would be putting together the stage for the halftime show. AWESOME. We would not be watching any football of any kind during the Super Bowl, nor would we be standing around watching a Justin Timberlake concert. We especially would not be playing “grab ass” with JT. Cap’s words, not mine.

I wanted to live tweet the whole thing. I decided it’d probably be a bad idea to do that once Cap told us all we “need to quit nursing at the digital nipple” and be completely present in rehearsals. Made sense to me.

What did I learn from the Staging Supervisor for the past 17 Super Bowl Halftime shows?

I learned I had to trust that he knew what he was doing. There were 21 carts full of stage parts that were going to need to be put together in less than six minutes and he was going to show 500 volunteers with zero experience how to do it with six rehearsals. Completely out of my control.

I needed to only focus on my job for those six rehearsals and trust that everyone else was doing the same thing. It worked for Lady Gaga in 2017, for Katy Perry and Left Shark in 2015 and for Prince and his amazing stage in 2007. Somehow, it’ll just work.

On the train ride home, I unequivocally knew it was going to be awesome.

Photo by me.

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