It’s been 21 years since Clint Black, Tanya Tucker, Travis Tritt and the Judds stormed the Georgia Dome midway through Super Bowl XXVIII, giving the NFL championship its first country music halftime show.
Don’t expect to hear much twang during this weekend’s matchup between the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks. The Super Bowl has largely relied on R&B and pop music during the 2010s, with the past three halftime performers — Bruno Mars, Beyoncé and Madonna — claiming the most viewers in the game’s 48-year history. This Sunday, Katy Perry will carry on the tradition with her own halftime set, filling the University of Phoenix Stadium with pop songs about fireworks, dark horses and teenage dreams.
Country music is still getting a piece of the action this week, though. Tonight, Zac Brown Band headlines the first evening of the DIRECTV Super Fan Festival. Located minutes away from the Super Bowl’s venue in Glendale, Arizona, the three-day fest also includes performances by fellow country stars Thomas Rhett, Cadillac Three and Sam Hunt. As Game Day approaches, a different crop of country headliners — Jason Aldean, Florida Georgia Line and Arizona native Dierks Bentley — will take over the nearby US Airways Center for Saturday’s annual Night Before concert. Tickets for that show are still available via Ticketmaster, with prices ranging from $80 to $190.
Leave it to Carrie Underwood, whose voice has kicked off every episode of NBC’s Sunday Night Football for the past two seasons, to get closer than any of her peers to a game-time performance slot. On Sunday evening, Underwood will kick off the Super Bowl broadcast with a performance of “Waiting All Day for a Super Bowl Fight,” a reworked version of her Sunday Night theme song, “Waiting All Day for Sunday Night.” Meanwhile, frequent Carrie collaborator and self-professed country fan Steven Tyler — who, if rumors are to believed, is supposedly working on a new album in Nashville — will headline a Rolling Stone-sponsored afterparty once the game is done, sharing the stage with Charlie XCX and DJ Cassidy.