You may have heard or, if you were watching closely, seen that during the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Super Bowl halftime performance with Bruno Mars neither bassist Flea’s nor guitarist Josh Klinghoffer’s instruments were plugged in.
Accusations that the band was faking their performance immediately flew on the internet, including some from celebrities. Guns N’ Roses frontman, Slash, dissed them in a cheeky online post. Vernon Reid, former guitarist for Living Colour, tweeted “That guitar is plugged into NOTHING” and “It’s a flaw in the illusion. They slipped up by not covering that for camera. They actually DON’T want Blatantly Fake made obvious.”
It turns out, though, that they sort of did. Flea posted an explanation on the band’s website two days after the performance.
Flea came clean in the post admitting that, while the vocals were performed live, the bass, guitar and drums were pre-recorded. According to Flea, the reason for this was that the NFL insisted on it. The band decided to leave their instruments unplugged because that “seemed like the realest thing to do in the circumstance,” and the band “thought it better not to pretend,” Flea wrote in the post.
“They only have a few minutes to set up the stage, there’s a zillion things that could go wrong and ruin the sound for the folks watching in the stadium and the t.v. viewers,” wrote Flea. “There was not any room for argument on this, the NFL does not want to risk their show being botched by bad sound, period.”
Flea also added that the decision to do the show was not an easy one for the Chili Peppers. He wrote that they usually would not agree to mime a performance. He recalled a time they were kicked off the TV program, The Top of the Pops, for refusing to mime correctly and making fun of the idea.
But this was a special occasion. It’s the Super Bowl, one of the biggest sports and television events of the year. Flea described it as “a surreal-like, once in a life time crazy thing to do.”
Be honest with yourself. If you had the opportunity to play the Super Bowl, even if you were an already super famous musician, would you turn it down?
If the Super Bowl halftime show was, instead, a concert I had paid to see, I would, of course, have an issue with the band faking their performance. But it was a television broadcast I watched on my friend’s TV. And it was primarily just that: a television event, as opposed to a live one. And the Chili Peppers weren’t even the main act. They just made an appearance in the middle of another artist’s set which would, it seem, make it more difficult to insure that sound and other factors would not cause any problems.
If they had attempted to cover it up, that also would have made the fake performance more offensive, but they were open and honest about it. They didn’t plug in their guitars or really do anything to try to cover up the fact that they were miming, and Flea offered a satisfying explanation to the public after questions were asked.
And besides, the performance was more exciting and entertaining than the game itself was anyway. And if you can take Flea’s word for it, fans need not worry about the band’s future. “We, as a band, aspire to grow as musicians and songwriters, and to continue to play our guts out live onstage for anyone who wants to get their brains blown out,” he wrote.
What do you think? Are you disappointed in the Chili Peppers’ fake performance? Let the world know what you think in the comments below!
And watch the entire halftime performance here.