Who needs a red carpet?

I never so much appreciated urban sprawl. Parties in Scottsdale, parties in Phoenix and, yes, parties in Tempe, (Glendale? Maybe next Super Bowl). South Beach and Bourbon Street may be better stand-alone destinations. But give me space.

Old Town Scottsdale and Tempe Beach Park provided plenty of people, plenty of fun and also (thankfully and uncharacteristically for a Super Bowl) plenty of space.

I think most people will agree that, in terms of potential traffic and general bothersome attributes, this Super Bowl has been little more than a great, unnoticed economic boon.

Take the NFL's free party on Saturday night at Tempe Beach Park. Boys Like Girls and Counting Crows played to (according to one policeman on duty) 10,000 people. The crowd, however, was always in transit at the entrance/exit, so you can easily round that number up to 15,000.

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I had no problem making my way within a few rows of the stage, where I was pleasingly surprised by the Crows. The emotion of lead singer Adam Duritz proved to be less sarcastic in person, and the general vibe of the band proved pleasingly refreshing 13 years after its debut album and its Mr. Jones hit. The band's new album, Saturday Nights and Sunday Mornings, debuts this month.

The Crows played its single, You Can't Count On Me, live, for the first time. As monotonous as this band's songs might be, this tune is sure to be another hit. It is well-done, yet familiar. These guys really remind me of Hootie and the band that Blows, but with about twice the natural talent.

In general, the event really summed up the energy that surrounds the Super Bowl. The crowd was generally younger but well-mixed, energetic, yet well-behaved; a sufficient (perhaps more than that, but I don’t blame them) amount of security/police were readily visible and in control. People were there to enjoy themselves and they did.

After the Crows' encore, the fireworks went off around 9:10 and lasted longer than expected, almost half an hour. It was a great show (on par with July 4), with the crowd only several hundred feet from the closed-off Mill Avenue bridge.

All in all, the price was right, the music was tight, and young was the night after the display of lights. Kudos to the NFL (am I really saying this) for allowing the peasants to enjoy a small piece of what has become a corporate Super Bowl pie.

Celebrities and red carpets were naught, and that was nice for a change.

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