“Next stop, Bad Bunny, baby!” said the conductor as the 4 train pulled into the station at 161st Street. It was night one of the superstar’s two-day residency at Yankee Stadium, and even the MTA was primed. Someone started handing out White Claws, and the crowded train erupted in cheers.
The 28-year-old star is in the midst of an unprecedented run. He’s been the biggest artist on the planet for three years running; his 2022 album, Un Verano Sin Ti, is still a mainstay at the top of the “Billboard 200” (despite being released three months ago); and this past Sunday, he accepted the VMA for Artist of the Year. These two sold-out shows were a fresh reminder that Bad Bunny shows no signs of slowing down any time soon.
As thousands of fans streamed out of the subway station, Colombian, Puerto Rican, Mexican, and Dominican flags rustled over the shoulders of everyone from teenage girls to middle-aged men. The line to get into the stadium extended into the road, and soon people without tickets were turning the sidewalks into an unofficial tailgate. The interpretation of what to wear to the New York edition of the World’s Hottest Tour varied wildly. For some, it was colorful skin-tight clubwear with cutouts; for others, island-print shirts and matching shorts. Light-up bunny ears could be spotted everywhere. One group of women wore head-to-toe PR gear, a walking declaration of love for the island and its people. The $400 resale numbers meant not everyone here would get a seat, but that didn’t stop fans from trying to attend the party El Conejo Malo promised to deliver.
Inside the stadium, seats filled quickly as Diplo began his preshow set. When Bad Bunny finally arrived to screams, he was sitting down in a beach chair, leaning back like a king surveying his kingdom, before opening with Un Verano Sin Ti lead single “Moscow Mule.” Small fireworks exploded and projected palm trees swayed behind him as he quickly took control of the stage, and those with floor seats moved to get as close as possible. It sounded like every single person in the stadium was singing along. The perreo went into full swing at Bad Bunny’s prompting, and the audience kept up word for word, moaning with an unimaginable amount of horniness during the “Papi, sí ” line in “Yo Perreo Sola.” “God, he’s beautiful,” a woman next to me said to no one in particular as Bad Bunny thrust his pelvis up and down with enough rhythm to make the spin cycle on a washing machine jealous. Meanwhile, the woman’s boyfriend had bumbled toward the front in an attempt to give his heart-shaped sunglasses to Benito. It was clear he’d seen the TikToks from previous tour stops where fans had been able to swap shades with Bad Bunny, but he was unsuccessful.
Bad Bunny soon ran through a mix of current favorites and early hits, including his braggadocious 2017 single “Chambea.” An homage to the music video for “Tú No Metes Cabra” was projected on the screen behind him as he rapped in the deep voice that made him so distinguishable early on in his career. Later, he was joined by reggaeton superstars Jowell & Randy, who dropped by to perform their Bunny collab “Safaera.” Benito then briefly ceded the stage to his guests, who sang a few of their own songs in a borough where they’ve been superstars for decades. They weren’t the only surprise of the night, either. The crowd hit a fever pitch when New York–born King of Bachata Romeo Santos came out to perform the Bad Bunny and Aventura collab “Volví” as well as “Ella y Yo.” Later, reggaeton singer Arcángel stopped by along with indie-pop band the Marías for a performance of “Otro Atardecer.”
Bad Bunny closed things out by cycling through more Un Verano Sin Ti cuts. He ascended above the crowd while strapped to a palm tree to sing “Un Coco,” then followed that up with “Me Fui de Vacaciones,” “Enséñame a Bailar,” and “Ojitos Lindos.” During “El Apagón,” flames shot out from the stage. The song is a reminder, a message, a love letter, and a plea: No matter where he goes or how famous he gets, he’ll always be from Puerto Rico.
After ending with “Después de la Playa,” Benito and his dancers held out a large Puerto Rican flag. Soon, the lights went up. It was almost midnight. As we were ushered out of the stadium and back to the subway, a crowd had gathered outside McDonald’s, where Bad Bunny’s music played on speakers and people continued to dance. Even after hours of standing together in the August heat, no one was ready to stop the party.