For the first time in history, Sunday's football game will be played within the New York City metropolitan area. After years of setting the spectacle in warm and sunny locales, the powers that be decided to take a risk, trusting the Big Apple to host the big game.
What's so risky about letting the nation's biggest city host the game? Well, the game's very existence is contingent upon the conditions on this sacred Sunday. If the weather gods decide to drop a few inches of powder on New Jersey, the stadium is basically unplayable.
But let's not worry about that now because most of the parties — and these are some serious parties — are indoors. Here are the biggest, baddest must-attend events this week.
Forget the halftime show; the best concerts are taking place at various venues, stadiums, and clubs in the days before the game. The number of acts gigging in the area is staggering. One concert series includes shows by Fall Out Boy, Janelle Monae, J. Cole, Gavin DeGraw and the Goo Goo Dolls — and the performances will go down in each of the five boroughs, plus one in Jersey. Kings of Leon will rock the Meatpacking District Thursday, while the city's own Run-DMC will perform uptown with The Roots.
Or, would you rather hit up one of New York's smaller venue? The beloved Neutral Milk Hotel play Webster Hall tonight, while The Pixies — if they can really be called The Pixies without original bassist Kim Deal — play across the river at Prudential Hall, in Newark. Thursday, you get Dum Dum Girls at Mercury Lounge. That sounds like a wonderful antidote to the madness taking over the city.
What else? On Friday, you can take in a night of Gospel legends at Madison Square Garden, watch Robin Thicke team up with Kendrick Lamar, or take in what's sure to be a deafening show by the Black Keys at Hammerstein Ballroom.
Then, get ready for Saturday: Drake and Diddy play a Meatpacking District pop-up venue, Red Hot Chili Peppers take the stage in Brooklyn, Wyclef Jean performs at Sports Illustrated's Jaguar-sponsored blowout, the Foo Fighters play on a boat on the West Side, and — as if he'd sit out a major event in New York City — Jay Z will give a highly anticipated performance as well.
New York is treating Sunday's game as an consolation prize of sorts for never securing the quadrennial, world-spanning two-week-long event that a certain former mayor tried so hard to win. After years of losing out on the most celebrated sporting event in the world, the city is making due with winning the hosting duties of the most-watched sporting event in America each year. This means renaming streets, dedicating a ton of taxpayer money to events, and ensuring that every single resident of this city is aware that there is a football game on Sunday. Times Square will be completely devoted to promoting the event, featuring regulation field goal uprights for practice kicks and, strangely, a toboggan.
Does your idea of a good time involve bold-faced names tossing around the pigskin? The celebrity flag football game on Saturday morning pits ex-ballers such as Deion Sanders against a mixed bag of stars like Tracy Morgan. Planning a nice day at the museum, away from all the gridiron worship? Well, you're out of luck: the Metropolitan Museum of Art is celebrating with an exhibition of vintage football cards.
Ah, the private events, the ultra-exclusive soirees. New York is no stranger to the uncrashable party, but with the big game coming to town for the first time, consider the ante officially upped. On Friday, GQ hosts its annual Super Bowl party at The Standard, High Line, while uptown, Robert De Niro, Spike Lee and Katie Couric are hosting a swanky shindig at Cipriani. And good ol' Howard Stern is throwing himself a 60th birthday party at Hammerstein Ballroom, hosted by Jimmy Kimmel and featuring performances by Steven Tyler and Jon Bon Jovi. Not too shabby, Mr. Stern.
And finally, come Sunday, there's the game. Did you forget about the ninety-minute athletic competition going on, what with all the shows and celebrities and parties? I don't blame you. But make no mistake, the game itself is the most important thing. As long as a blizzard doesn't stop it, that is. This might be New York's first time hosting the big game, but it also might be its last.
Image by Michael Erazo-Kase