Figuratively speaking, Bad Bunny is on top of the world. But last night, the fashionably late superstar was standing atop a real-life semitruck in the middle of Climate Pledge Arena, as the excitement of thousands of amped-up fans beat like the packed arena’s collective pulse.
Fans waited an hour and 20 minutes for the Latin pop juggernaut to take his 18-wheel stage, and every second felt like a party as a DJ pumped a mix ranging from electro-charged reggaeton to regional Mexican hits. The stone-faced man of the hour strolled around his conspicuously parked big rig, surveying the crowd in silence. With the icy swagger of a pro wrestler ahead of a match he’s predetermined to win, Bad Bunny briefly raised his black sunglasses to get a better look at the 15,000 or so faithful before launching into “Booker T” — a no-nonsense trap banger named for the hall of fame wrestler.
It was a stoic salute to his passionate fans, who helped the Puerto Rican rapper/singer make history as the first artist to have a Spanish-language album hit No. 1 on Billboard’s album chart. His current El Último Tour del Mundo, which shares a name with that groundbreaking 2020 album, is a delayed victory lap, and last night showed why Bad Bunny is the most dynamic game-changer in pop music.
Before the show, Climate Pledge Arena presented the noted wrestling fan and WWE Royal Rumble participant with a championship-style belt commemorating the artist who purportedly notched the fastest sellout in the arena’s young history. Less than halfway through his current tour, Bad Bunny’s announced an even bigger run later this year, upgrading from arenas to larger stadiums.
Bad Bunny has crashed into music’s mainstream like the semitruck he patrolled, as a leader of the red-hot Latin trap and reggaeton movements. But the genre- and gender-bending star’s music has a wider scope that can’t be boxed, and Tuesday night’s opening blitz showed the breadth of his sonic palette.
After another murky trap anthem (“Hoy Cobré”) that saw Bad Bunny annihilating low-register bars that bob and weave between a screw-loose synth line, he glided through an airy reggaeton tune (“Te Mudaste”) before upshifting with a few revved-up rockers.
Fusing jump-around pop-punk with cool-down trap beats, Bad Bunny flashed his rock frontman bona fides during a rumbling “Yo Visto Así,” as the guitarist and bassist from his four-piece backing band joined the singer on his big rig platform, which morphed into a three-plank stage like a rock ‘n’ roll Transformer. After addressing the crowd (entirely in Spanish) at length amid an extra bouncy “Maldita Pobreza,” fans lent their collective voices for a sailing, unified singalong — one of many throughout the night.
Whether delivering spacey acoustic ballads (“Trellas”), gleeful, 8-bit bops (“Si Veo a Tu Mamá”) or his glossy reggaeton cuts, almost every song was greeted like a fan favorite, the crowd frequently erupting at the opening notes. The unwavering excitement made for a truly festive atmosphere during what was, to date, Seattle’s biggest party of the year (and good luck topping it).
The show was also the city’s first major event to take place since local vaccination/negative test requirements for large gatherings were lifted Tuesday. Earlier that day, Climate Pledge Arena’s website indicated they would no longer check vax status at concerts and sporting events, in line with state and county policy, though masks would still be required. Gov. Jay Inslee announced Monday the statewide mask mandate would lift March 12, slightly ahead of his initial timeline, and King County is following suit. Throughout the pandemic, mask compliance has often been inconsistent at concerts, varying wildly from show to show, and now in the mandate’s lame duck period, they were seldom worn last night.
On stage, Bad Bunny kept a cool demeanor while moving at a quick pace, often utilizing a gender- and body type-inclusive battalion of dancers to provide an energy spark. During a mischievous “Yo Perreo Sola,” the crew donned skimpy red latex suits that looked like something Lil Nas X might wear while grinding on Satan’s lap. The outfits were inspired by the song’s much discussed video, which features the star in drag and has garnered more than half a billion YouTube views.
It was a showstopping highlight amid a closing run that capped Bad Bunny’s two-hour set with head-swimming thumper “Dákiti,” which found one over-exuberant fan rushing the stage.
At one point in the evening, Bad Bunny instructed his crew to shine a light on the arena’s upper level sections, where several fans proudly raised Puerto Rican flags. The 27-year-old has already accomplished things no other Latino artists have, in the process, pulling pop music’s increasingly global center toward him without making any compromises. And that stage is about to get even bigger.
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