San Francisco 49ers hit a local note with the music at Levi’s Stadium

San Francisco 49ers hit a local note with the music at Levi’s Stadium

Stadium music is as much a part of the game-going atmosphere as what happens on the gridiron and in the stands. At Santa Clara’s Levi’s Stadium, the 49ers differentiate the musical experience by embracing songs by Bay Area artists — and a certain, distinctive local sound effect.

It’s the call of a foghorn, a throwback to the team’s days in foggy San Francisco. You’ll hear the iconic sound three times before kickoff — and again every time George Kittle or another Niner lands in the end zone with the ball.

“It doesn’t matter where you are in the building,” says Laura Johnson, the 49ers’ senior director of game presentation and live events. “When you hear the foghorn sound, you’ll know there has been a scoring play here at the stadium.”

That sound is quickly followed by Vallejo rapper E-40’s 2006 hyphy classic, “Tell Me When to Go,” complete with the “Yay Area” intro, to celebrate the touchdown.

“It’s fun. It’s hip,” Johnson says. “Anybody can really just vibe with that song, which I think is very cool. It’s very cross-generational.”

E-40 is a big supporter of the red and gold – “He’s often at our home games,” Johnson says – but it’s more than that.

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“You will hear quite a bit of Bay Area music, when you come to a 49ers game,” Johnson says. “It’s a part of our brand. It’s a part of our identity. We think it’s important to be authentic to the Bay itself and to pay homage to the great music scene we have here as well.”

That homage begins as the players enter the field to the sound of Metallica’s “For Whom the Bell Tolls.” The Bay Area’s best-selling band ranks among the most-played at stadiums across the country.

“I think it just fits the hype of sports in those moments — those crescendo moments,” Johnson says. “I feel like it matches the drama that you need.”

The stadium soundscape is the work of Johnson and her team of five, who assemble a playlist rich in Bay Area talent, from 1980s hitmakers Huey Lewis and The News to country star Jon Pardi to hip-hop talent P-Lo.

“There is music playing from the moment gates open until the moment we close down shop at the end of the night,” Johnson says. “When (fans) are walking in, you really want to have that cross-cultural type of playlist going. We want to make sure that we have something for everyone throughout the course of the day.”

Another E-40 cut — the raucous “Niner Gang” – is another victory tune in regular rotation. And the classic rock power ballad, “Lights,” from Bay Area Rock and Roll Hall of Famers Journey, is also a celebratory favorite.

“It really resonates with fans,” Johnson says of “Lights.” “What’s really cool is that as (fans) make their way out of the building, you can hear them singing along to it. So, it’s really fun and engaging, again, because of that tie to Bay Area culture.”

Bay Area-centric songs like “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and “Tell Me When to Go” get the most love, but tried-and-true stadium anthems by Ozzy Osbourne, for example, or Guns N’ Roses, still have a place at Levi’s.

There’s just one category of music that does not: the opponent’s favorite tunes – and not just because there’s a difference between, say, Bay Area hip hop and L.A. hip hop. (Although there is.)

“If we are playing the Rams, we will veer away from anything related to L.A. or makes remarks to L.A. — because we want to focus on the Bay,” Johnson says. “It’s our experience and our home field advantage we’re creating.”

Bay Area artists on the 49ers playlist:

Introduction of the Team: “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” Metallica

Touchdown: “Yay Area” into “Tell Me When to Go,” E-40

Scored extra point/field goal: “Seek & Destroy,” Metallica

Win song: “Niner Gang,” E-40

Last song after a win: “Lights,” Journey

Other celebratory songs from local artists:

“Big Steppin (49ers Remix),” Stunnaman02

“Welcome to Paradise,” Green Day

“Put Me on Somethin’,” P-Lo

Bands and related songs from the area and part of the in-game sound:

“San Francisco Anthem,” San Quinn

“Long Train Runnin’,” Doobie Brothers

“Oye Como Va,” Santana

“Welcome to the Bay,” Mac Dre, Luniz, Messy Marv

Bay Area Artists played at games:

Classic Rock:



Doobie Brothers

Grateful Dead

Huey Lewis & The News

Steve Miller Band

Eddie Money

Greg Kihn


Jon Pardi

Tyler Rich

Nate Smith

Devin Dawson


Soul and R&B

Tower Of Power

Sly and The Family Stone

Sheila E.





Rappin 4-Tay

Mac Dre



Green Day