The best of the pre-Super Bowl concerts — and the coolest events for the culture
From Cardi B to Ochocinco to Future to Ludacris to Angie Stone, it’s about to get hot in Atlanta
With Super Bowl LIII set to kick off Feb. 3 at Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium, there is no shortage of questions to ponder. Most pressing: Who will take home the Vince Lombardi Trophy? Tom Brady and the grizzled, not-these-dudes-again New England Patriots? Or Todd Gurley and the upstart, no-one-saw-this-coming Los Angeles Rams? The oddsmakers say Pats, but we’ll see.
But ahead of the game there’s lots of other stuff to consider. For example: Will Cardi B’s bag-securing Super Bowl Pepsi ad reach majestic heights? Will Maroon 5, chosen to headline the biggest live gig in America on the home turf of Gladys Knight, Jermaine Dupri, Outkast, Usher Raymond, TLC and T.I. manage to hold its own or will halftime show guests Travis Scott and Atlanta native son Big Boi just take over?
Or maybe the bigger question is, how much great music and how many cultural extravaganzas can a person attend ahead of the Super Bowl? The city of Atlanta is always popping, but this week? Its cup runneth over.
On Jan. 31, our own Jason Reid of The Undefeated will moderate a town hall discussion about criminal justice reform with Troy Vincent, the NFL’s executive vice president of football operations; Bernice King, the CEO of the King Center; and RISE CEO Diahann Billings-Burford, as well as NFL players, executives and Atlanta community leaders (4-6 p.m. at The King Center). Later that day, at the Cascade Fun Center (home of the classic 2006 film ATL), T.I. and Big Boi are hosting a private celebrity roller skate night. There’s also a celebrity bowling tournament that evening at Main Event Entertainment hosted by Julius and Dorys Erving and the LadyLike Foundation.
Chad Ochocinco Johnson’s Celebrity Slam (Friday, Feb. 1, Morehouse College) promises Atlanta Falcons greats Jamal Anderson and Andre Rison, as well as the Atlanta Dream’s Angel McCoughtry, the Green Bay Packers’ Davante Adams, Baltimore Ravens quarterback sensation Lamar Jackson, Rich Homie Quan and even Flo Rida. Tickets start at $20, and proceeds benefit Usher’s New Look foundation.
At the Maxim Super Bowl Party (Saturday, Feb. 2, The Fairmont), for $725-$1,250 you can get it in with Future, Diplo and Jamie Foxx (an onstage table will run you $45,000). If you’re looking to get your grub on, there’s Taste of the NFL (Saturday, Cobb Galleria), where one can sample dishes from chefs representing all 32 NFL cities ($700). And the Atlanta-based Coca-Cola Co. just announced that via a new $1 million donation to the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, admission will be free from Monday through February.
SO MUCH SUPER BOWL WEEK MUSIC
Super Bowl LIVE Concert Series
Downtown Atlanta’s Centennial Olympic Park
What to expect: This concert series (11 a.m.-10 p.m.) is sponsored by the Super Bowl Host Committee, curated by Hall of Fame songwriter/producer Jermaine Dupri and Saturday is headlined by Dirty South greats Goodie Mob. For an old school meets early 2000’s vibe, check out DJ Smurf & the Atlanta Bass All-Stars, which will include Tag Team of “Whoomp! (There It Is)” fame, MC Shy D, Kilo Ali, KP & Envyi and the Ying Yang Twins.
What to expect: Three nights of shows headlined by the original trap gawd turned hip-hop’s favorite life coach, Gucci Mane. With 13 studio albums, a plethora of song-stealing guest appearances and more than 70 mixtapes, Radric Davis has a wealth of material from which to choose.
Super Bowl Gospel Celebration
Tickets start at $50
What to expect: Comedian and radio personality Rickey Smiley hosts what’s being billed as the official “praise party.” The all-star concert boasts the lineup of multiplatinum foot-stomper Kirk Franklin, 2015 GMA Dove Gospel Artist of the Year Tasha Cobbs Leonard and The Winans. The event will be televised on BET at 9 p.m. Saturday.
Bud Light Super Bowl Music Fest
State Farm Arena
What to expect (Thursday): A dizzying, eclectic roster of acts. Ludacris, the underrated emcee and Fast and the Furious star, gets the party started with his 14 Billboard Top 30 singles, co-headlining with Atlanta’s own for-the-culture tastemakers Migos. Lil Yachty, Lil Baby, superproducer Metro Boomin and A-Town ambassador Lil Jon round out the shows.
Saturday: Throwback rock ‘n’ roll behemoths Aerosmith are no strangers to sharing the stage with rap rebels, going back to their landmark 1986 “Walk This Way” with hip-hop immortals Run-D.M.C. This time around, omnipresent pop-rap standout Post Malone will be joining the indestructible Boston crew.
Saturday: The hottest ticket in town. Unstoppable hitmakers Bruno Mars and Cardi B will undoubtedly link up for their 2016 ode to new jack swing, “Finesse.” At least that’s the hope.
Official Big Game Kickoff
What to expect (Thursday): Young Thug protégé Gunna and “Yes Indeed” breakout star Lil Baby are set to open Martell’s series of star-flooded shows. Fans should expect to hear tracks from their 2018 mixtape Drip Harder, the pair’s biggest statement to date.
Friday: Hip-hop’s comeback player of the year Meek Mill continues his victory lap with a high-profile appearance. And he won’t be alone. Joining Philadelphia’s chart-topping Champions rhymer and spokesperson for criminal justice reform is Brooklyn, New York’s, Fabolous.
Saturday: Trey Songz and Young Jeezy. They’ve been collaborating since the Artist Formerly Known as The Snowman’s 2008 “Takin’ It There.”
Feb. 3: When Future hits the stage, he will be doing so in a newly sober state. Ciara’s controversial multiplatinum ex is promoting his latest blissed-out No. 1 release The Wizrd, having reportedly given up his addictive drink of choice: codeine-induced lean.
The hottest acts at, arguably, the ATL’s hottest nightclub.
Friday: Young Jeezy and Future: A-town’s finest.
Saturday: Cardi B and Meek Mill — an eyebrow-raising pairing who are bound to keep Nicki Minaj’s devoted followers talking.
Feb. 3: Migos, Lil Baby, Gucci Mane and Quality Control co-founder Pierre “Pee” Thomas — rawest Atlanta street bangers.
Big Game Benefit Concert
Rialto Center at Georgia State
Tickets start at $75
What to expect: A rhythm and blues double bill benefiting The Still Standing Alliance, a nonprofit that battles domestic violence. Grammy-nominated Angie Stone and veteran singer-songwriter Calvin Richardson will be doing the soulful honors.
Shaq’s Fun House
What to expect: Towering Hall of Famer and Inside the NBA analyst Shaquille O’Neal brings a carnival-themed party of fair food, games, Cirque du Soleil performers and a Waffle House pop-up. Performers include Migos, DJ Tiësto, Diplo, DJ Diesel, DJ Irie and Lil Jon.
Armour Yards district
What to expect: Two nights of electronic dance music throwdowns from producer and genre-hopping DJ Diplo.
Go-to song: “Express Yourself”
Rolling Stone’s Big Game Bash
Goat Farm Art Center by Skylight
What to expect: Joining Ludacris are eccentric spitter Young Thug, rising rapper Gunna and Thugger protégé Lil Keed. The Roots’ mighty drummer and bandleader Questlove will be behind the ones and twos, showcasing arguably the deepest crates in the DJing world.
DIRECTV Super Saturday Night
What to expect: Dave Grohl’s Foo Fighters have often been victims of their undeniable staying power. But their catalog is as endless as it is earnest. Besides, it’s hard to hate on them when they pick a genre-crashing opening act like the two-fisted hip-hop duo Run the Jewels, which boast another proud Atlanta product, Killer Mike.
What to expect: Rick Ross has come a long way since his rudimentary 2006 Port of Miami days. Back then, few imagined that the burly rapper would become a platinum mogul who could hold his own against lyrical titans such as Jay-Z, Lil Wayne and Nas.
Go-to song: “Stay Schemin’” feat. Drake and French Montana
Sports Illustrated shindig, produced by Talent Resources Sports
College Football Hall of Fame
What to expect: Snoop Dogg and newly reinvigorated Lil Wayne. Between the two hip-hop giants, there are enough mammoth anthems (and conspicuous smoke) to fill up the Georgia Dome.
We’ll add to this list as the inevitable shows and events are added to this wild and packed week.