Concerts

Bad Bunny Doesn't Have to Speak Your Language to Show the Scope of His Talent

Bad Bunny was not all smoke and mirrors on Friday, but there was some of that, too.
Bad Bunny was not all smoke and mirrors on Friday, but there was some of that, too. Vera "Velma" Hernandez
There's a visceral feeling you get from a Bad Bunny show —  It fills your ears with weight, as though your eardrums had lungs and had just done some kind of power workout at Crunch Fitness. And it's not just the artist's music that creates this silencing cushion between your temporal bone and tympanic membrane. It's from the people around you who express an infectious vibe of emotions veering from joy to sorrow and back to joy.

Bad Bunny sang and spoke in Spanish during his entire two-hour set at AT&T Stadium on Friday, to a crowd that seemed to know all of his songs by heart regardless of the language they use.

A former grocery store bagger from Puerto Rico named Benito Martínez Ocasio, Bad Bunny has become pop music royalty. With the thrust of a NASA rocket capable of surpassing light speed, he has a reach that goes beyond his medium. He's become Spotify's most-streamed artist and the first musician to release an all-Spanish album, El Último Tour Del Mundoto, to hit the top of the Billboard 200 charts. He's won endless awards, collaborated with the likes of Drake and Cardi B, had a song used in a Joe Biden campaign ad (and not one that the campaign co-opted without prior approval) and started a movie career that will eventually put him in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
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Fans on Friday night at Bad Bunny's concert.
Vera "Velma" Hernandez

His ability to reach out and touch so many people regardless of their language is a testament to the true power that great music can wield when someone knows how to use it for something other than making Scrooge McDuck levels of wealth deep enough to swim in or for quenching their addiction for attention.

Thankfully, Bad Bunny stopped in Dallas on his World's Hottest Tour at a time of year when our hell-like levels of heat are bearable. He opened the show with "Moscow Mule," an obvious crowd favorite that's a love ballad more about living in the moment.
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It was a packed stadium at AT&T on Friday.
Vera "Velma" Hernandez

The instance he walked out on the stage in what appeared to be a macramé leisure suit, the crowd delivered an ear-splitting level of love and affection. Although it seems like he's been on the charts forever, it's easy to forget that it's been only a couple of years since he started with nothing more than a simple Soundcloud account.

The stage was appropriately decorated for the tour's summer beach theme, but it could change into colorful displays of fire-spewing savagery in a matter of seconds. It was a live concert that didn't rely on flashy multimedia to distract you between songs or keep the energy going, a rare stadium concert that focused on the music. Hell, Bad Bunny didn't even have backup dancers come in until the fifth song when he started singing "Party." Probably because it's a song about a party, and it would be stupid to have just one guy up there singing a song about a party.
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Fans went wild for Bad Bunny.
Vera "Velma" Hernandez

The first and probably only moment of real silence came just after the show took a more serious turn with "La Romana," an introspective tune delicately interspersed with moodier tones. It was an eerie kind of quiet because it came right in the middle of a raucous, vibrant, colorful show of explosive joy. It's didn't hit you over the head with some kind of message — it was a more meditative moment as the sound went from loud to silent so fast, you swore you could hear your own thoughts.

Bad Bunny's show had at least two more crescendos like that, veering from introspective love songs like "Vete" to satiric numbers like "Yo Perreo Sola" and then back to experimental party pop like "Safaera."
It finally ended as Bad Bunny was lifted off the catwalk on a neon-crowned island oasis that floated over the heads of the fans on the floor seats, coming pretty close to the highest seats in the rafters. He could then make eye contact with some of his fans who until then had to squint just to get a look at his face.

It's a moving testament to his fans who helped him reach such a high stage in life so quickly, regardless of how much money they had to fork over to some fee-grabbing ticket vendor for the privilege of seeing him perform in person.
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Bad Bunny had elaborate sets, but they didn't outshine the music.
Vera "Velma" Hernandez

Bad Bunny is an interesting character to observe at this stage in what's sure to be a storied career because he's in his prime and still appears gratefully incredulous for it. He's become so successful, so beloved and so critically lauded in such a short time that he looks like even he can't believe how easily he can hold an audience's attention and admiration in the palm of his hand.
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Bad Bunny spoke to the crowd on Friday, no matter their language.
Vera "Velma" Hernandez
There were stretches of silence from the rapper/singer when he just looked out at the crowd and drank in the cheers and chants as if he was expecting to wake up from a really great, Ambien-produced dream. It was just delightful to see someone of his stature appreciate that moment while he's in it with the people who put him there.
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Bad Bunny's fans took him to the top in just a few years.
Vera "Velma" Hernandez

The aftermath of many stadium shows is a persistent ringing sound produced by bands who think being loud equals being entertaining, or from the high-pitched squeals of crowds at bubblegum pop shows with artists who could make dogs in neighboring counties perk up at the slightest pelvic movement. Bad Bunny's show felt like the tail end of a 20-hour flight to some comforting far away place, a wonderfully revealing experience — even for those of us outside the wheelhouse — that transcended language and culture.
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A Bad Bunny fan at AT&T Stadium.
Vera "Velma" Hernandez
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Bad Bunny's show was not bad at all.
Vera "Velma" Hernandez
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A small sampling of Bad Bunny's worldwide following.
Vera "Velma" Hernandez
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Danny Gallagher has been a regular contributor to the Dallas Observer since 2014. He has also written features, essays and stories for MTV, the Chicago Tribune, Maxim, Cracked, Mental_Floss, The Week, CNET and The Onion AV Club.