Football may not be for everyone, but there is one day when all the bandwagoners and fair-weather fans and people who really just don’t care can all come together regardless of their devotion: the Super Bowl. At Sunday night’s Super Bowl LIV the Kansas City Chiefs defeated the San Francisco 49ers to take their first championship in 50 years.
Beyond the Chiefs faithful, another group of die-hard fans got some excitement from the Super Bowl, regardless of whether or not their team made the playoffs: During the game’s broadcast on FOX, fans of Phish, the Grateful Dead, and The Revivalists with some keen ears and a quiet watch party caught snippets of some fan-favorite tunes as the network rolled into commercial breaks.
Throughout the game, fans were treated to segments of “Character Zero” and “Free” by Phish, as well as “Bertha” by the Grateful Dead. This was no anomaly, however, as fans have been pointing out the use of jam bands during FOX’s NFL broadcasts throughout the season. Phish.net setlist reporter Scott Marks even compiled a list of which songs were played during which games.
11/14/19 ChalkDust Torture
11/21/19 Character Zero
12/5/19 Axilla, Maze
12/12/19 Tweezer Reprise, Free
1/5/20 Character Zero
1/19/20 First Tube
— Scott Marks (@bizarchive) February 2, 2020
As Marks pointed out, all of these fine song selections have been the work of Jake Jolly, who works in the broadcast booth during FOX’s NFL broadcasts and just so happens to be an avid fan of The Phish From Vermont. FOX apparently does not yet know the lesson that so many friends of Phish fans have learned time and time again: never give us the AUX.
Just after Chief’s kicker Harrison Butker put a successful PAT through the uprights, fans could hear the tail-end of the guitar solo from “Character Zero” play going into commercial.
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In the second quarter, the 49ers were able to hold the Chiefs on the goal line and make them settle for a field goal. As the Chiefs’ defensive coordinator celebrated his team’s unbreakable line, The Revivalists’ “You and I” could be heard in the background.
Revivalists Bumper Music at the Super Bowl
[Video: Dre McQueen]
After the San Francisco 49ers tied up the score later in the first half, the unmistakable driving rhythm of the opening of the Grateful Dead’s “Bertha” was playing beneath the announcers, and noted by Grateful Dead archivist David Lemieux.
— David Lemieux (@lemieuxdavid) February 3, 2020
Finally, during the second half of the game, the 49ers scored a touchdown following a crucial interception by linebacker Fred Warner. As the PAT flies through the goalpost, the descending guitar notes of “Free” by Phish could be heard while the players celebrated yet another score.
Before, there were two types of people who watched the Super Bowl: the people who watched for the game and the people who watched for the commercials. Now there is a third type of person: those who watch to see what five-second snippet of a song will be played going into the commercial; and there is simply no more appropriate group for Phish fans to be in.