Rockers, Rappers Psyched Up For Super Bowl Kickoff

Some musicians such as R.E.M.'s Mike Mills, rapper Silkk the Shocker relish football championship; others take a pass.

Rapper Silkk the Shocker may be topping the charts these days, but he remains a loyal fan of the underdog.

At least, for this year’s Super Bowl.

Silkk plans to cheer on the upstart Atlanta Falcons as they take the field in Miami against quarterback John Elway and his defending-champion Denver Broncos for the National Football League championship Sunday.

“I like both of them, but I would like someone different winning it,” Silkk, whose album Made Man debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart this week, said. “I probably would go with Atlanta.”

Over a billion viewers are expected to tune in and watch the Super Bowl. Among those looking forward to one of America’s biggest sporting events you’ll find a number of high-profile pop musicians, such as Pearl Jam drummer Matt Cameron and R.E.M. bassist/keyboardist Mike Mills.

But there are also those artists who won’t be able to catch the game or couldn’t care less.

R.E.M. manager Bertis Downs said that the band’s guitarist Peter Buck and singer Michael Stipe probably won’t be down at the local sports bar with beer mugs in hand and eager eyes glued to the TV. But Downs added that bassist/keyboardist Mills tries to attend the Super Bowl each year and hopes the Falcons — representatives of R.E.M.’s home state of Georgia — can bring home the crown.

“Mills is [the band’s] one resident football lover,” Downs said. “He goes to the Super Bowl every year, if he can, whether Atlanta’s in it or not. Michael and Peter are not big football fans, believe it or not. I think you’d have to say they take no opinion on it. But Mills is clearly a Falcons fan and a football fan.”

Pearl Jam/Wellwater Conspiracy drummer Cameron followed the sport as a kid, and, with a little prodding, confessed that he’ll probably put aside his sticks and park himself in front of the tube for the game.

“I used to be a big football fan as a kid,” Cameron recalled. “I was totally into the [running back] Larry Csonka-era [Miami] Dolphins, but I’m not that into it now. I’ll probably watch some of it.

“Yeah, I’m sure I’ll be there with my beer hat on,” he said, laughing. “I guess I’d like to see the Falcons win, because I’m a Chris Chandler fan. I take the underdog.”

As it happens, music will be a significant part of the spectacle. The pre-game show at Miami’s Pro Player Stadium will feature Atlanta’s own Black Crowes, Mack 10 and Ice Cube; the halftime break will feature a mini-concert with R & B legend Stevie Wonder, Latin-pop diva Gloria Estefan and swing band Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. Singer/actress Cher will belt out the National Anthem.

Though the game takes center stage that afternoon, not everyone is planning to strap on their team helmets and thrust their pom-poms aloft.

Fred Durst of Limp Bizkit — the thrash-funk band whose debut LP features song such as “Counterfeit” (RealAudio excerpt) and “Faith” (RealAudio excerpt) — decried the amount of emphasis placed on sports in American society and said he doesn’t care what the Falcons and Broncos do Sunday.

“Sports are stupid,” Durst said. “I like watching an occasional Mike Tyson fight. I like watching roller derby and soccer [and] hockey every once in a while. But I can’t get into football or baseball or basketball. It was never me. … I can’t believe how obsessed people get with that.”

Jay Bennett, guitarist and keyboardist with country-rockers Wilco, said he was not a major sports fan, but added that the prospect of being overseas and missing the big game two years running is a little disappointing.

“I’m going to be somewhere in Scandinavia or Germany,” Bennett said. “We had to try to watch the Super Bowl in Dublin last year when we were making [Mermaid Avenue, the Woody Guthrie tribute] record with [folk-rock artist] Billy Bragg, and we ended up getting a delayed and condensed version of it.

“It’s not bad to miss the whole halftime thing,” he continued. “That’s condensing I didn’t mind… ”

Still, he added, “It’s a tradition to watch it. It’s kind of a bummer two years in a row. I’m not a huge sports fan, but that is one of the things I try to watch.”

(SonicNet’s Gil Kaufman, Chris Nelson and Teri vanHorn contributed to this story.)