Bad Bunny didn’t need to strap himself to a fake palm tree and fly right over the heads of his audience to make everyone feel close to him on Friday night.
To be clear, that’s just what the Puerto Rican singer-rapper did near the end of his sold-out concert at SoFi Stadium: a fine display of performing artistry in a traveling show, not misadvertised as the World’s Hottest Tour, which It also featured fireworks. , fog cannons, and a pair of giant, drone-powered inflatable dolphins.
However, Bad Bunny’s special sauce as a pop superstar is the intimacy of the bond he shares with his fans, many of whom call the 28-year-old by his real name, Benito. Through her quirky charm, her broad ideas about gender and sexuality, her dedication to the needs of her homeland, and of course through her music, which feels deeply personal and in tune with history at the same time. time, Bad Bunny has cultivated an international reputation. following whose intense devotion she has a kind of tight-knit family environment. People to know he (or think they do); More importantly, they believe Hears knows them, which is why SoFi erupted when she called out some of the many countries (Mexico, El Salvador, Cuba) that members of the crowd could proudly trace their roots to.
What’s even more remarkable about this sense of mutual belonging is that it has only risen alongside Bad Bunny’s fame since scoring his first chart success in 2016. Friday’s show was the first of two at the cavernous SoFi to wrap up the US leg of their tour. before traveling to Latin America for another couple dozen stadium shows behind his latest smash-hit studio album, “Un Verano Sin Ti,” the biggest LP of 2022 by far and the reason Bad Bunny is the act with the most nominations at next month’s Latin Grammy Awards. . (“Un Verano Sin Ti,” which draws inspiration from reggaeton, bachata, hip-hop, dembow, synth-pop, mambo and reggae) is expected to receive an album of the year nomination at the Grammys. non-Latinos of 2023, in which case it would become the first project in Spanish to be nominated in that category).
This week, the Los Angeles City Council even designated October 1. 1 as Bad Bunny Day, and Councilman Kevin de León said the artist’s “cultural impact will have a tremendous and positive influence on future generations and redefine Latino culture in Los Angeles for years to come.”
This level of fanfare can make a guy go all Bono. Before the flight and pyrotechnics, however, Bad Bunny kicked off Friday’s two-and-a-half-hour performance by relaxing in a beach chair next to a basic red and white cooler in a set designed to resemble a beach. All night he carried himself casually but with enough style to show that he enjoys the privilege of the adulation of his fans; his tender baritone voice, which he delivered on a microphone customized to resemble the sad heart figure on the cover of “Un Verano Sin Ti” (whose title translates as “A Summer Without You”), had a conversational quality, like if he exchanged confidences with tens of thousands of his closest friends.
At one point, she sat onstage with about 20 dancers, men and women of varying racial backgrounds and body types, and passed around a bottle of wine as she sang “Yo no soy Celoso,” a charming acoustic ballad about romantic jealousy. Moments later, Bad Bunny was back, bouncing off quick snippets of his hardest old Latin trap tunes. In both modes, his light-hearted charisma made the stadium feel small, even as the Bad Bunny bracelets his team had handed out glittered to the ceiling.
For what purposes does Bad Bunny use this special closeness? He’s challenging conventional notions of masculinity, as in a beautiful rendition of “Ojitos Lindos,” about someone rediscovering his feminine side, for which he teamed up with the song’s main guest, Liliana Saumet from Bomba Estéreo de Colombia, who was dressed a pink coat adorned with a cloth vagina.
It’s presenting a clear musical lineage, especially valuable in an era where digital broadcasting has made it easier than ever to take an ahistorical view of pop. (Think of “Un Verano Sin Ti” alongside Rosalía’s “Motomami” and Beyoncé’s “Renaissance” as key artifacts in a developing push among A-list stars to show their confidence in the work of pioneers.) In SoFi, Bad Bunny presented several important figures from reggaeton’s past: Chencho Corleone from Plan B, Jowell and Randy and Ivy Queen, giving the latter the stage so that she could do a brief performance of her own.
He is also, and perhaps there is a touch of Bono here after all, advocating for political change. For his penultimate song, Bad Bunny performed the throbbing, rave-heavy “El Apagón” (or “The Blackout”), which he wrote after a private company took control of Puerto Rico’s vulnerable power grid last year, and which was felt too relevant on Friday due to recent power outages on the island in the wake of Hurricane Fiona. The song is a furious critique of colonialism and its legacy, and Bad Bunny followed it up by inviting a live drummer and trumpeters to help him close the show with an extended jam on “Después de la Playa,” a raunchy post-Beach comedy. the swimming. in which the musicians and the public found an exultant solidarity.