J Balvin at Lolla 2019
Photo: Josh Brasted/FilmMagic/Getty Images
J Balvin Brings Out Wisin Y Yandel & All The Vibras For Historic Lollapalooza Set
Four songs into his history-making Lollapalooza headline set last night, J Balvin paused as he finished his Nicky Jam collab, "X," took off his sunglasses and looked out at the massive crowd. "I want to see you guys, I want to see your energy out there," the Colombian Latin GRAMMY winner said, hyping up the already hyped audience.
"It took us 28 years to be on this stage…and I'm so happy and so grateful to be headlining, for the first time a Latino act." His gratitude, along with a level of humbleness typically not reserved for a headline act, was present throughout J Balvin's 75-minute set.
Rocking lime-green hair, Balvin shone brightly onstage, filling Grant Park with his shimmering energy and smooth voice. But it wasn't just about him—Balvin's show was about representing fellow Latinos proudly—including the reggaetoneros that paved the way for him.
— Rudy (@ThaliaLover) August 4, 2019
As he reflected on the historic moment, he added "From Medellín, Colombia to the world, pa' la vi' Latino (short for para la vida, aka for the Latino life), this is our time. This is our moment. It's our time to make our dreams come true. Like I'm making my dream, you can make your dream too." Based on the echoing cheers and applause alone, it's safe to say the other attendees also found his words, presence and overall performance deeply inspired and ridiculously fun.
As the crowd cheered, he continued through his impressive catalog of massive Spanish-language bops. He went into his perreando-ready "Reggaeton," checked in with the crowd—"How's the energy?"—and followed with "Safari," his 2017 Pharrell Williams-assisted track. Balvin's equally energetic dance crew, who rocked pieces from his Guess x J Balvin Vibras collection and sometimes dressed as clouds and other playful characters from Balvin's colorful FriendsWithYou collab, brought his smooth lyrical flow and his DJ and band's big beats even more life as they tore up the stage.
The crowd fed from and added to the energy of the experience, enjoying every moment, but no one was prepared for the surprise that came next.
"I'm so grateful to be here, gracias...but I wouldn't be here without the reggaeton OGs...that's why we gotta pay homage to the OGs," Balvin said as the music went into N.O.R.E. and Daddy Yankee's 2004 reggaeton classic hit, "Oye Mi Canto." The crowd, of course, got down to the old-school club track as Balvin rapped along.
The energy levels went from a 10 to a 12 as GRAMMY and Latin GRAMMY winners Wisin y Yandel took the stage to rap with Balvin for another reggaeton classic, their 2005 debut single, "Rakata." It felt like the most lit Latin music club in your city was popping off, except it was happening on Lollapalooza's main stage, and the songs were being performed by three of the biggest heroes of the first and second waves of the genre.
As Wisin Y Yandel left the stage, Balvin ended the epic three-song tribute with Yankee's Latin GRAMMY-nominated 2004 banger, "Gasolina." Balvin closed the tribute with, "Dios bendiga el reggaetón (God bless reggaetón)," a line from his own song "Reggaeton," which in itself is a tribute to the OGs.
— Yandel (@yandeloficial) August 4, 2019
He continued the set with more of his own songs and features, including Cardi B's massive GRAMMY-nominated bilingual Hot 100 No. 1 hit with Balvin and Bad Bunny, "I Like It." The song got its own Balvin show-that-feels-like-the-best-Latin-club-night-treatment, opening with the original version of boogaloo song sampled on the track—"I like It Like That," released by Bronx-born Latin jazz artist Pete Rodriguez in 1967—as his squad salsa-danced together.
Balvin checked in with the crowd again, asking, "Where are my people from Mexico, Colombia, Puerto Rico…," celebrating the diverse, lively crowd and the various Latin-culture influences of "I Like It." Cheers erupted from around the crowd as the fans, like Balvin, proudly identified with their Latino roots, as much of the audience grabbed their friends' or lovers' hands and salsa-ed along with the dancers on stage. As the music progressed into the 2018 song, the crowd jumped to the beat. Fireworks shot up from the stage and it was impossible not to feel chills with the power of the moment. The vibras were very real.
Being a part of JBalvin’s audience tonight was inspiring. I remember listening to reggaton in my friends basements as a kid. As a Cuban American it’s so amazing to see him headline #Lollapalooza AND pay tribute to Daddy Yankee and others who paved the way for a Latino headliner pic.twitter.com/XfwUZS4uFf
— Therese Davis (@TDavisxx) August 4, 2019
As the set neared to a close, the audience was still vibing and grooving hard with Balvin. As he finished 2014's "Ay Vamos"—yes, he's been dropping big bops for awhile now, beginning with his 2013 debut album, La Familia—he announced the next song would be his last and thanked everyone one more time.
The ridiculously catchy extended club cut "Mi Gente" featuring Willy William would wrap the powerful show on a high note. The bouncing track was huge single for Balvin and introduced him to an even bigger fanbase when he dropped the hit in 2017, spawning countless remixes including one bringing on Beyoncé, but somehow it didn't feel like he had missed it earlier during the show.
He asked the crowd to jump with him and to shine their lights, los luzes, together and everyone did. As the song slowed down, you could hear "otra, otra!" (meaning another/one more) echoing through the joyful crowd; they were not ready to end this massive moment. Thankfully, Balvin and his touring DJ/hype-man took "Mi Gente" into an extended, EDM-esque version of it, which they played much earlier during his Coachella 2019 set.
Eventually the last beat dropped—the "Mi Gente" club mix was indeed the last song—and Balvin paused for a final grateful look to all the people that moved with him the whole time. He left the stage but much of the crowd held on the moment a bit longer, yelling "otra!" again. Throughout the show, they danced and cheered for him, his killer music and his big moment, but were also very much celebrating with him and a understood their part in it too; his gente, his "Latino Gang" and everyone who comes together with his music as the catalyst.
Otras más pa la cultura LOLLAPALOOZA!!
— J BALVIN (@JBALVIN) August 4, 2019