I don’t speak Spanish, so this is an impressionistic take on the Bad Bunny concert at Staples Center last night. I don’t feel bad that I don’t speak Spanish—I studied French in high school because I grew up on the border of French Canada—but I did wish I knew what Bad Bunny was saying during his “dramatic banter” moments.
In front of the entrance to Staples Center in Downtown Los Angeles, people pose in front of a 20-foot inflatable Bad Bunny head. Bad Bunny’s inflatable head has a third eye.
A girl with green hair in a painted-on sequined dress has drawn a third eye on her forehead. She is in line for a hot dog, and she orders a Corona. She says she’s been a Bad Bunny fan “for forever” (which I take to mean 2017, when he released his first single).
The line for Bad Bunny merch is pretty long. Bad Bunny’s logo is dead Miffy. Instead of an X for a mouth, the “bad bunny” has Xs for eyes. You can get a dead Miffy t-shirt for $35. I kind of want one, but the green-haired girl inspired me, and I only have enough money for a hot dog and a Corona.
A video plays on the jumbotron, a sort of pastiche of Vega Baja, the Puerto Rican town Bad Bunny comes from. A man rides a bicycle through town and almost gets hit by a car, while Bad Bunny narrates the events. Eventually, we come to a church, and the camera pans in on a choirboy standing in front of the lecturn. The choirboy turns, and it is young Bad Bunny, denoted by a glowing third eye.
Bad Bunny comes on stage wearing a matching Louis Vuitton print jacket and pants, a Lakers jersey, and his signature low-sitting glasses. He runs through his hits, like “Dura,” “El Baño,” “Está Rico.” The tiny girl in the seat next to me hands me a blunt. I haven’t smoked a blunt in a while, so I only take on hit. The girl smokes the rest of it and then lights up another one, and smokes that one too. Then she hits a vape.
Dancers come on stage, dressed in neon yellow tops. They all have braided hair, mostly a dark purplish red. The blunt makes that color pleasing. Bad Bunny’s hair is cool too, a diamond tip shaved down into the widow’s peak area, perhaps pointing at the (invisible to non-seers) third eye on Bad Bunny’s forehead.
The first big surprise of the evening for me comes about an hour in, when Bad Bunny breaks into “Tenemos Que Hablar,” which is a sort of pop-punk-meets-trap track. The jumbotron shows a collage of Social Distortion and Sonic Youth album covers. I didn’t know this side of Bad Bunny, and I immediately download the song to my phone.
The rest of Bad Bunny’s tracks are hip hop, with a few getting into more reggaeton territory and even fewer in bachata style. Most are smattered with Bad Bunny’s signature synth stab, which kind of sounds like a futuristic spaceship zipping off.
Then, Bad Bunny gets to “Mia,” the song that everyone knows that’s on the radio every ten minutes (the video has 773 million views on YouTube). It’s really catchy, and Drake guest stars on the remix, but this version is all Bad Bunny. The hook hits me so hard, I can’t help but dance.
Then, the special guest of the night, Becky G, comes out. I love Becky G, and I love the track she does with Bad Bunny, “Mejores.” She’s wearing a sequined dress with the Playboy logo on it. Then Bad Bunny gets on a small contraption and flies out over the audience, before wrapping up the evening by telling the screaming audience, “Gracias de corazón.”
That part I understood.