LAS VEGAS — It turns out Kaskade found out he was DJing at the Super Bowl not too long before the rest of us did.
In fact, his first time seeing the elevated DJ platform in the stands behind the end zone where he would spin throughout the game on Sunday (Feb. 11) was that day, minutes before he performed a pre-game concert that soundtracked the San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs warming up on the field.
“This will be my first moment. We’ll experience it together,” Kaskade (real name Ryan Raddon) told Billboard with a smile as we shadowed him all day Sunday throughout Las Vegas’ Allegiant Stadium for his gig as the Super Bowl’s first in-game DJ — a job that was only formally announced by the NFL on Thursday after Tiësto had to back out due to a “personal family emergency” earlier that day. Kaskade’s primary team had arrived days earlier in Vegas while the DJ played a long-scheduled gig at Montreal’s Igloofest on Friday night to make sure that everything was ready for him, and after wrapping his first set on Sunday, he was happy to report of the previously mysterious DJ booth: “It all works. I’m like, ‘OK, it’s plugged in, there’s power, we’re good.’”
Kaskade said the trickiest part about the last-minute gig was weaving some pump-up song requests from the two Super Bowl teams into his setlist for their pre-game warm-ups, including a pair of Billboard Hot 100 No. 1s by Drake (“God’s Plan” and “Jimmy Cooks” with 21 Savage) and DJ Snake’s “Turn Down for What” featuring Lil Jon, who would be one of Usher’s surprise halftime show guests later that day. The most time-consuming part of incorporating the new songs? Making sure all the lyrics were safe for the Super Bowl’s family audience, Kaskade says.
The players clearly appreciated the tailored playlist, with the Chiefs’ Isiah Pacheco performing an impromptu end-zone dance to “God’s Plan” during warm-ups. (“Some of them were feeling it,” Kaskade laughed afterward.)
Along with the pre-game special requests, Kaskade also worked in some more esoteric choices, like Odd Mob and OMNOM’s “Losing Control.” And when it came time for his two DJ moments during the game — one between the first and second quarters and one between the third and fourth — Kaskade stuck to what he knows best: playing the vibey “Escape,” his 2023 Kx5 song with longtime collaborator deadmau5 (“Hi. I just played Escape to 100 million people,” Kaskade posted to X after), as well as his party-starter “Fun,” a 2019 team-up with Brohug and Mr. Tape featuring Madge. He also got a chance to enjoy a bit of the nail-biter game (which the Chiefs won in overtime), taking a seat right in front of his platform alongside his wife and daughters and the rest of his team during breaks.
For a closer look at a day in the life of a Super Bowl DJ, follow along with Billboard as we embed with Team Kaskade at the big game.
‘Can We Do This?’
“The first question is: Can we do this?” Kaskade recalls thinking when they first got word of the Super Bowl gig. “Do we have enough time to pull this off? I was kind of just, like, backing it up. Because I had a busy week. I was in Montreal on Friday and Las Vegas on Saturday, so I’m here — if I wasn’t [already booked at Zouk nightclub inside Resorts World Las Vegas on Saturday night], this probably wouldn’t have happened. I wouldn’t have been the guy.”
‘This Is What I Do’
Sure, it was last minute, but Kaskade always knew he was capable. “I do want to say, because a lot of people online were like, ‘How can you do this?’ I mean, I’ve played over 5,000 shows in my career, right? And I’ve played probably 2,000 or 3,000 big shows, from Coachella to SoFi Stadium, so this isn’t completely new. This is what I do.”
He also had experience playing at sporting events, like an L.A. Rams game this past fall and post-game White Sox concerts in his hometown of Chicago. “Those moments already kind of prepared me for something like this. This is way bigger, but I’m like, ‘OK, this is in my wheelhouse. I can do this.’”
‘How Do You Have My Number?’
Kaskade had an idea of what a big deal the Super Bowl booking was when his phone started blowing up late last week. “This is people that I haven’t heard from in 10 years from high school texting, being like, ‘Dude, no way!’ And I’m like, ‘How do you have my number? I changed phone numbers like three times since then!’ I mean, just a lot of people. Everyone. Very nice, you know, congratulating me, but I think it’s one of those things that just reaches so wide.”
He also wasn’t used to hearing his name on the morning news shows. “The next day, I’m literally getting in the shower to go catch the plane to Montreal, and I jump out of the shower, TV’s on, and it’s like, ‘Oh, Kaskade’s filling in!’ And they cut to me with this footage in San Francisco. And I’m like, ‘This is very surreal.’ Like, I’m blow-drying my hair, and I turn around, like, wow. I mean, there’s nothing close to this impact. When I get Grammy nominations, I think a lot of people outside of my normal circles are like, ‘Oh, that’s awesome!’ And they recognize the Grammys is a thing. But the Super Bowl is, like, it’s like 100 times that.”
‘That’s What I’m Talking About’
While seeing the players dancing to his set during warm-ups was cool, Kaskade was really pumped about another audience in the house. “It’s so awesome when they cut to some little kid and he’s just feeling it, like some 12-year-old or something. That’s what I’m talking about right there.”
‘More People, More People, More People’
We all know how huge the at-home audience is for the Super Bowl, but the 65,000-person crowd in Allegiant Stadium felt pretty massive too. When Billboard chatted with Kaskade right after his pre-game concert, he said it was “everything you would expect. It’s crazy. Everybody’s just pouring in right now, so every song, I look up and there’s more people, more people, more people.”
‘I’m a One-Man Band’
Continuing with the gig’s up-for-anything vibe, Kaskade found out from the NFL during the pre-game concert that his set could run a little longer than planned if he was up for it. “They’re like, ‘Hey, we could give you a little more time.’ I was like, ‘Uh, I’ll take it!’ I went maybe four or five minutes longer. So I’m like, ‘OK, what else do I have on here?’ That’s the great thing. I’m a one-man band. I’m fluid. I can add stuff or take stuff out.”
‘We Gave Them a Party’
After Billboard mentioned how his sets seemed to noticeably increase the energy in the already electric Allegiant Stadium, Kaskade admits: “We gave them a party.”
To get a taste of that party, check out videos from Billboard‘s day with Kaskade below.
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