J Balvin and his good “vibe” arrive to stay at Bilbao BBK Live

J Balvin and his good "vibe" arrive to stay at Bilbao BBK Live

Fifteen minutes remaining until 2 a.m.; the clear sky and a humid breeze accompany the hundreds of festival-goers seeking their place on the guard esplanade. The stage suddenly turns into a huge box of flashing red and white lights. At-will smoke cannons will begin their work. More lights, this time simulating flares. And then the first notes of the melody of My people. The thousands of people who are already crammed in front of the huge stage raise their phones to catch the release of Colombian J Balvin, truly the most striking name on the poster for the recently concluded edition of the Bilbao BBK Live festival, where styles de The usual music is rock and electronic. It’s clear that reggaeton, an easy to hum type of dance music, has been gaining ground in the global market, especially in the past four years, and it’s becoming common to see its stars headlined at festivals. . “It would be unbearable to hear at this festival the Slowly by Luis Fonsi; J Balvin tolerates it,” admitted Ana Carmona, 32, who approached the festival on Saturday wanting to see Britain’s MIA and its forceful proposal to rap-funk-dancehallbut now perrea and sing with his group of friends.

Saturday, July 9 was undoubtedly one of the most anticipated (and most important) days in the 15-year history of the Bilbao BBK Live festival. For many reasons. Firstly because this edition which has just ended involved giving the stage back to its public after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic; secondly, because in order to continue to be a relevant event and to grow —working only with nostalgia can allow you magical moments like the one you experienced last night with Pet Shop Boys but without adding another type of audience—, he decided to open the door, why not, to sounds that also say what is happening to us. It is precisely in this context that we can situate the inclusion of J Balvin in relation to the canceled 2020 edition. Primavera Sound took a similar risk in 2019—same protagonist, similar context—like the Coachella festival: J Balvin He became the first Latin artist to perform at the Californian festival.

The show that José Álvaro Osorio Balvín gave last night, dressed in a black jumpsuit and fisherman’s hat from the firm Prada and with his left arm in plaster – a few weeks ago he had a the road, according to the artist himself, was not visually stunning. The staging was a bit flat, the choreography with the four dancers didn’t seem to correlate with the songs and someone choosing artist Takashi Murakami to illustrate his album cover Colors (2020), we expected more from the visuals. The voice does not dazzle either. However, it was entertaining, in large part, because the audience was having so much fun and responding to every provocation from the emcee, who over the pre-recorded music, kept running from side to side. other from the scene. , twerking and smile. Before starting the topic Reggaeton, Balvin reminded attendees, punctuating his sentences with the word “vibra” from time to time, of something that, in a way, as we’ve already mentioned, was popular knowledge in the room. “This is the first time in 15 years that there is a reggaeton artist at this festival; dreams come true, but you have to put the ball in it, ”he said, between defiant and happy. “We are ready?”. And the response is in the form of thousands of unison tremors. “And if people ask me, I’m not going to refuse them,” he sings a minute later. It was time to present a new theme, released just a few days ago, twerking level, and which Balvin formulates with enthusiasm. In the verses we can feel an arrow for his enemies in the Latin scene Urban. “The ghetto is the business, whatever you think, the street controlled by Spotify and YouTube, I’m endorsed by Yankee and Snoop,” he says. Before It’s hot invites boys to lift girls on their shoulders; two minutes later a horizon of human towers takes shape on the landscape. “There, the women feel like queens, which they deserve.” And to continue the party with the successful collaboration with Rosalía whose video has two billion views on YouTube, With Height. It’s a song that pays tribute to old school reggaeton and also an example of the evolution of this genre, which to become so massive had to lose its original rawness, both in the lyrics and in the productions. Precisely, the most sung songs of the night will be crazy with you Yes what do you claim, with a romantic theme and a somewhat strident production.

British electronic pop duo Pet Shop Boys at last night's gig.
British electronic pop duo Pet Shop Boys at last night’s gig.Javier Zorilla (EFE)

Pet Shop Boys

But yesterday in Bilbao BBK Live Pet Shop Boys also played, with Neil Tennat and Chris Lowe fit and dressed for the occasion in very odd white suits against an impressive and dramatic set – they founded the band in 1981, but the truth is that they continue to live in the future, another different from ours and much more fun. In his Spectacle last night, they were able to maintain the intensity from start to finish, and they released classics like Always in my head, Go West or West End Girls. They also scored a fun version of the I love you baby by Sinatra — surely more than one would wake up the next humming the chorus — in the first 15 minutes of the concert, winning over the audience from the start.

From MIA, another of the stars of the night, it was clear that we could not expect anything conventional – in 2005 she burst onto the world stage with an album, hoot, which always convinces and surprises with its wild proposal of rhythms and genres. With a rebellious attitude, last night he appeared on stage with a good string of songs and crisp bases of funk, hip hop and dance hall, but without the force or the punk attitude of yesteryear. This, yes, Paper plans It was one of the highlights of the festival. Other performances that left a good taste in the mouths of the participants were those of Nathy Peluso and Rigoberta Bandini, two examples of artists who found their place in a more open edition of the festival.

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