Jay Z has gone on record that he’s not just a businessman, but a “business, man.” As such, he knows that it behooves him not to make unnecessary waves and risk alienating potential customers. So if Shawn Carter is rooting for anyone in particular to win the Super Bowl, he kept that to himself during his performance at DirecTV’s annual Super Bowl weekend “Super Saturday Night” party, which was held Feb. 2 in New York at the DTV SuperFan Stadium at Hudson River Park Pier 40.
This is, amazingly, the first time the New York area has hosted a Super Bowl since the inaugural 1967 edition. In fact, this is the first time the event has ever even been held on the East Coast. DirecTV’s “Super Saturday Night” was one of many all-star events happening in the city this week; ESPN and GQ have also had high profile parties. But this was, one assumes, almost certainly the only Super Bowl event that ended with a performance of “Young Forever” dedicated to the late Nelson Mandela. “Get your camera phones out! Show some respect!” Jay said, and much of the crowd realized it would be unwise to disobey.
The event was co-hosted by New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning and Mark Cuban’s AXS cable network and held in a converted performance space best be described as “airplane hangar-chic” (iron everywhere, chandeliers that cost more than your annual salary, intimidating lines for free mini-burgers, a giant DTV NYC banner). Jay Z’s performance was preceded by the the Dutch DJ Tiësto, who blended hits by Coldplay, Icona Pop and the Bloodhound Gang into a trance set that offered continual escalation at any cost.
Jay Z, backed by a three-piece band and dressed in a long-black t-shirt and stocking cap, performed a hit-packed, medley-heavy set that included “Empire State of Mind,” “Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem),” “Izzo (H.O.V.A.),” “Big Pimpin’” and “99 Problems.” Many, many Roc diamonds signs were flashed by the crowd, as is the custom at Jay Z shows. (It hurts his feelings when Jay Z sees insufficient diamonds in the air, one assumes.)
The crowd included David Spade, Artie Lange and the cast of Workaholics, but the biggest star in the house was the one that joined Jay Z on stage: Mrs. Shawn Carter herself, Beyoncé. The pair duetted on “Drunk in Love,” the same song they recently steamed up the Grammys with. This was a sweeter, less sultry performance, but welcome nonetheless.
At the end of the performance, Jay Z demanded “Make some noise for Queen Bey!” The ecstatic crowd probably didn’t need the prompting. But Jay Z, a wise man, knows there’s certain things you don’t say on stage to keep the business running smooth, and there’s certain things you absolutely must say on stage to keep everything else running smooth.