“¿Quiénes están orgullosos de ser latinos?” Opening act for J Balvin’s concert on the North American leg of his Arcoíris tour, Lyanno, had the small crowd cheering. He used a mixture of Spanish and English in his performance, reflecting the multicultural backgrounds of the audience.
The Puerto Rican reggaeton artist was successful in getting some concertgoers on their feet but was not as successful as he could have been, through no fault of his own. At this point most of the seats had not yet been filled though some were straggling in during the performance.
Next on stage was Puerto Rican rapper Eladio Carrion who had a similar way with what little audience was present. Interestingly enough, the theme throughout both performances seemed to be Latino pride.
Both artists attempted to connect with the crowd and get them excited for the main act. When the opening acts were completed, the crowd waited patiently until for the concert to continue.
For roughly the next 25 minutes, more people begin to trickle into the United Supermarkets Arena to see J Balvin, while others took the opportunity of a brief intermission to get another beer.
When the curtain finally dropped, J Balvin’s stage design overwhelmed the audience with an oversized caricature doll of himself and a large cloud-shaped screen displaying colorful psychedelic effects. Almost instantly seats began filling up during his opening number, the 2018 single “Reggaeton”; nearly an hour and a half after the concert had officially started.
Balvin surprised and excited the audience by paying tribute to reggaeton artist Daddy Yankee, by performing Yankee’s 2004 hit song “Gasolina”; a song nearly everyone in the crowd knew well. After this, the crowd was wrapped around Balvin’s finger, hanging on to his every word and dancing to all of the subsequent songs.
The concert included a variety of Balvin’s discography, pulling from both his albums from years past and, as anticipated from the crowd, his 2019 album “OASIS.” No matter which song he was performing, the crowd was screaming the lyrics, highlighting the overwhelming popularity of Balvin’s music.
During a plateau of the concert, in which Balvin performed one of his more mellow songs, “La Canción,” he began discussing mental health. As Oct. 10 was World Mental Health Day, he took the opportunity to raise awareness about how both depression and anxiety can affect Latinos.
The fact of the matter is that Hispanic culture tends to disregard mental health, a fact which Balvin highlighted, reminding the audience that as much as we can trust God to pull us through difficult situations, we must be more willing to seek out professional help when we need it.
Balvin went into detail about how he immigrated to the United States from Colombia illegally and how he struggled with anxiety during this time. The message landed well with the audience, leaving us with the feeling of appreciation of ourselves and our culture.
He picked the song back up, asking the audience to turn on our cellphones’ flashlights and send “buenas vibras” to one another and all of the other Latinos globally who have struggled with mental illness.
Balvin’s entire set radiated good vibes with its use of vibrant color: the iconic rainbow, backup dancers dressed as clouds and mushrooms and many other psychedelic costumes. The overarching message of his concert was well-supported by his stage design, provoking the audience to have a feel-good experience while still giving us the opportunity to consider more serious topics.
The concert itself was beautiful, both visually and auditorily, and was emotionally impacting because of Balvin’s genuine kindness and empathy for others that shone through in his brief monologue.
Overall, though, the best thing about this concert was how it brought so many people together under one roof, all enjoying a shared experience and dancing to great music. Balvin’s music has and continues to connect people, especially Latinos, across borders, nationality and differences.