Last night Colombia’s swaggiest reggaetonero J Balvin hit the stage at the NYC’s Playstation Theater (formerly Best Buy Theater). He was one week into La Familia, his first headlining U.S. tour, and feeling extra juiced. Not only was it a sold out crowd, but the evening had special symbolism for Balvin; as he reminded the audience, NYC was the first place in the U.S. to give his music radio play. That was thanks to Alex Sensation, who Balvin brought out on stage at the end of the night to thank him for the early support.
It’s been a big year for the reggaeton heartthrob. His last single “Ginza,” a dark, sweaty dance floor anthem made for late nights at the club, debuted at no.1 on iTunes, and recently became the fastest Spanish-language music video to hit 100 million views on Vevo (an ascent that even beat out last year’s Enrique Iglesias banger “Bailando”). Balvin also got love from the Latin Grammys, with nominations for best urban song and best urban performance, thanks to his breakthrough hit “Ay Vamos.”
We were at the Playstation Theater last night to catch the next big thing in reggaeton. Here’s what went down.
He served a strong Kanye look
Before he transitioned into his new flesh-toned spanx phase, Kanye loved him an all-red outfit. Balvin channeled the Ye of Yore in head to toe red, later changing into two other monochromatic looks (including an all white outfit, obvs).
He free-styled over "The Next Episode" and threw in some Donald Trump ether
As you may remember, Balvin was really responsible for kicking off the Latino boycott of Donald Trump – he was the first to pull out of the Miss USA pageant following Trump’s comments on Mexicans, and prompted many, including Univision, to follow suit.
Last night he alluded to the incident, freestyling “Pero yo tengo un don / y no me importa lo que diga Donald Trump,” to thunderous cheers from the crowd (skip to 3:01 to hear it.) By the time he got to “Si señor, no se meta: que quede claro lo Latino se respeta.” we were all ?.
He covered "Smells Like Teen Spirit"
If you’re a superfan, you may know that Balvin began his music career doing Nirvana and Metallica covers. But judging from the audience reaction when he picked up a guitar and started playing “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” basically zero people in the audience saw this coming. And they all lost it/got it.
He performed an unreleased track called "Malvado"