Raptors and Reggaeton
by Georgia Kotsinis
photography courtesy of Georgia Kotsinis
From the very beginning of the show, the audience of J Balvin’s Vibras concert tour knew they were in for a wild ride.
The Colombian raggaeton singer graced the stage of BU’s Agganis Arena on October 18th. The performance began with an introductory video featuring a theme park employee with an enthusiastic, high-pitched voice, played by J Balvin himself. With its vibrant colors and silly animation, it braced the audience for an exploration through the “Vibras Fun Park,” a spin-off of Jurassic World. An introductory video outlined six rules to enjoy the park:
Clap your hands
Take pictures #VIBRASTOUR
Be nice to the dinos
Throw panties and bras onto the stage (if you’re feeling frisky)
With everyone ready to go, a giant animatronic 3D T-rex appeared center stage, eyes glowing through the darkness. J Balvin ran onto the stage in an all-red outfit, matching the giant dinosaur towering behind him. He started out with the high-energy, EDM-influenced hit “Machika” to get the crowd going. The triangular screens on either side of the T-rex flashed with interchanging dino-related drawings and animations as raptors invade the stage, marching back and forth.
The concert was only one song in, and the audience was already experiencing impressive lighting effects, stimulating imagery and fireworks to set the mood for the rest of the show. “Bum Bum Tam Tam (David Guetta Remix)” kept the momentum going with a singular dancer at the center of attention, holding nothing back while beams of light danced around her.
For the next song, the T-Rex disappeared. J Balvin stood atop an orange ball with eyes moving in all directions and a mouth made of spiky teeth. This was the setup for his popular single “X”. Throughout the spectacle, the screens glowed with moving patterns, creating a trippy visual effect that matched the tune of the song.
About a third of the way through, the Colombian native moved to a square stage at the back of the stadium. Everyone who thought they were unlucky to be so far away from the main stage were immediately proved wrong. He then performed a mixture of slow and upbeat songs. At one point, a lucky little girl was pulled up onto the stage and got to hug her idol. Tears were rolling down her face as the audience went crazy for the heartfelt moment.
J Balvin clearly saved a lot of his hits for the final half of the show. He is known for the collaborations he does with other artists. He played the entirety of Cardi B’s single “I Like It”, until his verse came in at the end and kept everyone on their feet with “Ay Vamos:” a throwback, as well as one of his most popular songs. Notable hits like “Ahora Dice” and “Bonita” were included as part of the set as well.
To end the show, the reggaeton singer gave a shout out to Spanish-speaking people from every country he could name. The loudest cheers from the audience were in response to Colombia, revealing the large Colombian population in Boston. Originally from Medellín himself, J Balvin concluded with an exhilarating performance of “Mi Gente” (“My People”), showing the unity that the Spanish language and Latino genre bring across a diverse crowd.
All in all, J Balvin was on point for every track. His rapping and singing remained articulate and impressive throughout the performance, something that may have been unexpected for a star of his stature and in a genre of music where people often get lost in the beat. His energy — as well as the audience’s — didn’t falter throughout the whole show and gave Boston a rare and unforgettable night of reggaeton music.