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Pepsi Smash Lights Up Ford Amphitheater Despite Rain

Despite rain throughout most of the evening, the Pepsi Smash Super Bowl Bash lit up, and rocked out, the Ford Amphitheater last night.

By D. Channing Muller January 30, 2009, 1:02 PM EST

The LED wall running the length of the stage changed throughout Lifehouse's set culminating with football game footage during their final song.

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Last night’s Pepsi Smash Super Bowl concert, scheduled to air live on VH1, continued as planned in the Ford Amphitheater at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa, despite the rain and a few technical glitches during the first performance.

“Pepsi has an incredible heritage with music and entertainment and the concert’s a great way for us to connect with consumers,” said Nicole Bradley, senior director of public relations for Pepsi-Cola Company.

Though the event hosted many of the company’s execs and top clients in town for the big game, many concertgoers won their tickets as part of radio contests Pepsi sponsored around the country, according to Bradley. “Music is universal, people love it! We want to give our consumers a unique experience and Pepsi Smash is a great way to do that,” she explained.

After press interviews and pictures in the Pepsi-themed Blue Room, Lifehouse, Fall Out Boy, and Rihanna hit the stage for the annual Super Bowl weekend concert series. Coordinated in conjunction with the NFL and Live Nation, the night began right on schedule with a pre-show performance from Lifehouse. Due to the nature of live broadcasts and their requirement for commercial breaks, as well as strict censorship regulations that must be observed by the talent, Lifehouse and Fall Out Boy each performed a full set before the live show began at 9 p.m., with the latter returning for two live songs during the broadcast.

Amplifying each performance—in addition to the sound equipment that needed to be fixed following a few mid-song screeches--an LED wall running the length of the stage behind the bands lit the amphitheater with various color and image changes throughout the night, many of which were timed to specific beats of the music. Pepsi branding was also visible throughout the amphitheater in gobos on the ceiling, carbonation bubbles running up the support pillars, inflatable Pepsi bottles, atop the projection screens on either side of the stage, and the oversized lighted logo over the center of the LED wall.

Following Fall Out Boy’s second show of the night—this one for the live broadcast hosted by actor Jerry O’Connell—the LED wall was raised to reveal a backdrop of theatrical draping accented by a screen of beaded curtains suspended in front. Reset specifically for Rihanna, the new staging also included a centrally located staircase atop which she started her show with her latest hit Disturbia. Pyrotechnics and bursts of flames punctuated her performance along with timed bursts of light from the beaded curtain suspended behind her.

In addition to the big names on stage, some top names in NFL were also in attendance including former Giants quarterback Jesse Palmer, Saints quarterback Drew Brees, and New England Patriot Matt Cassel who watched the show with Pepsi and NFL execs in the private V.I.P. lounge. Located just behind the sound control booth in the center of the amphitheater, the three-level lounge was outfitted with white leather chairs, couches, and daybeds from Taylor Creative, along a myriad of highboys and cocktail tables. Sponsored by Live Nation, restaurants like Ruth’s Chris Steak house and Columbus-based Mitchell’s Steak house also set up food stations serving Kobe beef sliders, lamb chops, pasta, and more throughout the night.

The Smash continues tonight with Pepsi Musica featuring performances from Enrique Iglesias and Belanova airing Saturday on Telemundo.

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