Patrick Stump Defends Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band

In the few days that have passed since Super Bowl XLIII, there has been a lot of buzz over a “controversy” that took place before and during the game. And no, this has nothing to do with taking away the Pittsburgh Steelers’ sixth Super Bowl Ring (WE HAVE SIX NOW. SIX. SUCK IT, NEW ENGLAND), but has everything to do with the musical performances that took place.

Apparently, during their rocking half time performance, the E Street Band used a backing track while Bruce Springsteen sang along. This has led to much nasty commentary by the internet and many Ashlee Simpson references. However, a hero has stepped up from the crowd to declare that the backing track was not only a good thing, but was absolutely necessary. Fall Out Boy‘s Patrick Stump has explained the science behind the backing tracks:

Think of sound like a distance runner. Now imagine that you’re playing music in a small club and the little runner has to sprint from your guitar to your amplifier to the mixing board to the PA speakers to the walls of the club and then run back to you. Sound travels very fast so in a small club this happens almost instantaneously and isn’t noticed by the human ear. But think of how big a stadium is. Now imagine that same runner having to perform that same sprint on the scale of a football field. The runner will be arriving later than they would if they were in the small club i.e. the sound is getting back to you well after you make it. As I’ve said before, this is called delay. Now, in some stadiums delays can be whole seconds which can seriously throw off a musician’s rhythm. Plus pitches can arrive late as well, making it hard to hear what key you’re in or even what note you’re singing. Plus you may be hearing two sounds at ones, the note you’re playing and the note you played. That can be confusing. Of course you could use “in-ear monitors,” like headphones that pipe in your mix to you. But even then, the isolation you’re getting isn’t enough to counteract the dangerous volumes bouncing from the crowds. The plain truth is that stadiums aren’t built for musical performance and are not suited for it…ever.

At any rate, these artists were asked by the Super Bowl to “Perform,” for something they probably support (what were the Nielsen ratings for the Super Bowl? Yeah there’s a good chance they’re football fans) and they wanted to give a good performance. Having heard the horror stories in the past of stadium shows going terribly wrong, they probably opted to be pre-recorded or partially pre-recorded. It was likely a tough decision to make but they decided the pros outweighed the cons and they went for it. And they are not alone. Most half-time shows performed by pop artists are pre-recorded whether or not attention is drawn to it. To blame Bruce Springsteen and his pitch perfect band for the acoustically feeble architecture of a stadium is unfair and childish. The internet would be just as mean if they performed it off track, couldn’t hear themselves, and sounded bad. Springsteen is a legend and deserves a little respect. I know the internet was only invented so you can talk about how much you hate things in a disconnected attempt at scene points, but lighten up.

I bow before your musical knowledge, PVS. And smile at your fanboying of Springsteen and the E Street Band.

Also, an interesting note that doesn’t have much to do with Springsteen, but everything to do with the halftime show: did you know that not a single female artist has performed at half time at the Superbowl since Janet Jackson’s nipple got less than 10 seconds of media exposure? Not even as a “guest” artist. Apparently the Superbowl half time show has banned boobies, covered or not, unless you’re in the background of a well-known male artist. Hmmmm…

And now, what were your thoughts on the half time show and the E Street Band’s choice to use a backing track? Keep in mind, I award no scene points in this blog.