Review — Bad Bunny Teaches Thousands How to Love Themselves at Ball Arena

Benito Martínez Ocasio, better known as Bad Bunny, has been taking the world by storm. The Puerto Rican renaissance man has been gracing both stages and silver screens alike with no indication of slowing down anytime soon. On March 20th, he brought his Most Wanted tour to Ball Arena and, performing solely in Spanish, delivered a thoughtful epic made for the fans.

The artist’s latest album, nadie sabe lo que va a pasar mañana, meaning “Nobody knows what will happen tomorrow,” is a rich orchestral reggaeton experience that delivers witty lyrical references and all the bangers Bad Bunny is known for. The people of Denver flooded into Ball Arena in anticipation of hearing the new project and familiar favorites alike, new and old fans rocking cowboy wear, ready to experience the showmanship and drama Benito always brings.

The show began with a 10-minute orchestral prelude. An abundance of fog and dimmed warm light set the mood while the orchestra transitioned dramatically from piece to piece. Benito offered fans a chance to experience a classical concert. For a hip-hop-leaning artist, he’s eager to expose his audience to new ideas and musical styles. Suddenly, amongst the plucking violins and somber cello, “Dicen que el mundo va a acabarse, ojalá que sea pronto” (“They say the world is going to end, I hope it’s soon”) rang out over the speakers. Smoke billowed out and Benito finally emerged to a cacophony of nearly feral screams. 

Moving into the smash hit “Monaco,” the rapper floated along the hard-hitting beats and James Bond-styled violins. The boastful lyrics and charismatic performance made it impossible not to join in on the madness of the stadium. After walking into the venue, everyone was given a cowboy boot-shaped light necklace that was synchronized to the show, making fans a part of the lighting spectacle. Additionally, fog blasts, fireworks, dancers and lasers made it so there wasn’t a moment when the visuals weren’t serving. Benito and especially his production crew pulled out all the stops to celebrate the album, which broke records, becoming the most streamed album on Spotify in a single day.

Moving through the Latin trap hits from the new album, Bad Bunny showcased the energy that pervades the project. At one point, he disappeared beneath the sonic and visual chaos. A short film was played, introducing Bunny’s masked cowboy alter-ego. It had a message about creating light from darkness and as it finished, on the opposite side of the arena, Bad Bunny reemerged on an actual brown stallion, similar to the one from his album artwork. After dismounting, he slowly stumbled onto the second stage platform. This is a different Benito than we’ve seen on previous tours. He was reserved and mysterious, obscured behind thick sunglasses, a hood and a scarf to hide his face at various times in the set.

At one point, the stage elevated, lifting the rapper as he machine-gunned out lyrics to his more trap-leaning work. In a clip shown on massive screens between songs, Benito’s voice intones: “Yo sé quién soy.” “I know who I am.” This could be a reference to being in the public eye and dealing with many new opinions. With a world that acts as if it knows every celebrity personally, Benito silences that with a proud exclamation of self-acceptance and love. As is the case with the album, the show defiantly subverted expectations at every turn. The giant elevated walkway descended to connect with his current stage and Benito moved slowly down to its center. The stage he previously graced silently lowered, leaving only him suspended in the air, all the eyes of Ball Arena now locked on him.

Along the massive glowing walkway, Bad Bunny performed the anthems of past projects. “La Santa” and “Efecto ” had the entire room jumping and screaming every word. He would spend long moments between songs looking around the audience, waving at screaming fans and pointing to others flying the Puerto Rican flag. These bouts of adoration were frequent and heartwarming. Despite his monumental success, Bad Bunny couldn’t believe the number of people in the room or the outpour of love they had for him. He slowed down the set at this point, sitting on top of a grand piano while the lights twinkled around the stadium. Between songs, he would kick his legs with joy and it was impossible not to feel a kinship to him. His childlike joy about performing made it easy to let go and simply enjoy as an audience.

“Me Porto Bonito,” a song that people had chanted for the whole night, finally arrived and its opening notes were met with a communal outcry. Lights strobing around the audience in shades of green and blue came paired with blasts of fire and smoke. Benito finished off the evening with “Where She Goes.” It was the climatic celebration the show deserved. Confetti poured down as the artist let out his final words. As if their team had just won the championship game, the audience didn’t ease up on the celebration just because Benito had made his exit, continuing the party until the very last note.

Bad Bunny has put so much thought into his fans and the relationships he builds with them. It’s refreshing to see, and it plays a huge part in developing such a dedicated fanbase. With Bad Bunny’s new album and tour, Benito continues to get better at his craft, and it’s a pleasure watching a new icon rise to the top while lovingly honoring his roots.


All Photography Courtesy of David Cohn