Los reyes de la bachata flaunt their throne for a Houston crowd on Sunday night.
That’s right, the boys are back for round 2. Are you ready?
The evening began early for many. Although all seating was assigned, many arrived before doors opened. A good 90% arrived dressed to the nines, especially the ladies. They were dressed to kill; full glam, stiletto heels, glittering dresses, everything!
Although the female side of the fanbase was strongest in both size and passion, the men were fast behind in sequined jackets, three-piece suits, and glitzy streetwear.
Like Queen, Guns ‘N’Roses, and Beyonce, Aventura is a band large enough that they don’t need an opening act. After 9 o’clock came and went, the audience’s anticipation began to grow rapidly. But they kept themselves entertained, meeting new people and singing along to the hits the DJ played, a nice blend of classics and current Latin Top 40.
Finally, the song playing over the speakers wasn’t followed by another. Instead, the house lights went down, and the volume of the Toyota Center’s screams went up.
Bright blue LEDs bathed the stage, the first notes of “El desprecio” were heard, and a rectangular set piece was lifted, revealing Aventura underneath.
The roar of screams reaching inhuman pitches drowned out all sound, something I’d yet to experience in my years of concerts at the Toyota center. Most were holistic shouts and howls of excitement and joy. Others were calls for;
“Oh my God it’s Mikey Santos!”
“Lennyyyyyy! Ay Lenny mi rey”
And Romeo. So many women screaming for Romeo, I thought at least one was being murdered.
“WELCOME TO AVENTURA’s WORLD!” was the greeting Anthony Romeo Santos yelled out to the crowd as he and the boys were lowered from their riser. The music didn’t stop, not to speak or to acknowledge the screams of gratitude, as the band played through “Mi nina cambio” and “Por un segundo,” respectively.
After those first three, the band paused to say hello a little more properly, thanking Houston for having them back so soon after their Valentine’s Day show.
The iconic piano riff of “La boda” played next, welcomed by more screams that nearly drowned out the priest’s words off the fan favorite. Red velvet curtains played on the massive screens behind the band pulled back to reveal the inside of a church. The screens were to be the main set piece used by the band on the Inmortal tour, a versatile move when used creatively.
A heavy darkness developed the stadium following the song’s conclusion, pierced only by the intro to their 2008 megahit, “Los infieles.” The crowd screamed in frustration at the tease, when the song cut out. Then retarted… only to be cut out again.
A planned interruption, the band took this opportunity to play the age-old game of who’s side of the stadium is the loudest, with Romeo and Lenny taking stage left while Henry and Mikey took stage left. With the results undecided, the band dived back into the song, only to pause again later to test the crowd once more.
The drummer shined during the set, breathing a new kind of life into softer songs like “Ensename a olvidar” with his powerful beats complimenting the riffs Lenny coaxed out of his sleek black guitar. The dynamic evoked strength into a song that had traditionally been nothing but pain, pairing with the angry red lighting beautifully.
A band celebrating their 20 year anniversary, the bachateros from The Bronx have put out quite a number of hits. Their audience is given no point to rest between all the uber popular tracks and the deep cuts going as far back as their years as Los Tinellers. Hailed as one of the most influential Latin acts of all time, they showcase their talent and the innovation they’ve used to define themselves with a curated setlist. As they aren’t touring to support an album, they get to divide their attention among their full catalogue rather than cater to the newest record. The band seems refreshed and happy to be on stage, also highly playful.
“I think…there are three types of men,” says Romeo Santos during a break in the set. “There’s the nice guy. The one that’s here to please you. Your friends love him, your family loves him, but you never fall in love with him, huh?
“Next is that demanding type, the one that won’t leave you alone. He calls constantly, always acts suspicious, waits for you outside the restroom and demands to know where you’ve been… yeah. Yall always run from that guy, too.
The crowd begins to cheer.
“The third type of guy…”
More Houstonians catch on, joining in the cacophony.
“He might be a little mean. Might drink a little, smoke a little, have a few tattoos. Probably speeds. You’re parents never like him, your friends tell you to stay away, but you… oh, you always fall for him. You loved him. Nah, you still love him… this song is called “El malo.”
The bars of a jail cell appear on screen, evoking scenes from the song’s music video as the introductory piano is drowned out by the stadium.
By now, the band had changed out of their fancy black clothes and into something more casual. The next song, “El perdedor,” allowed for brighter lighting on the front of the stage. Tech took full advantage, putting individual band members on mega screen. Henry Santos shone brightest, forever dancing across the stage with a rhythm most of us can only hope to rival.
Everyone put it all into the performance, following with some of their most commercially successful songs “Mi corazoncito,” “Su veneno,” and “Un beso.” The lights cut to black for an extended 30 seconds, allowing the band a well-earned break.
Then, the sound of rain was heard from within the dark. The lights came back on, revealing Aventura now standing atop a red brick apartment complex. With projected rain falling all around them as they began to play “La tormenta.” Following a series of more sentimental songs, they took a few requests from the audience, playing snippets of “Our Song,” “La guerra,” and “Mi princesita” for gracious fans, grinning ear to ear at the surprise.
They descended from their perch atop the ‘building,’ they thanked their beloved female fans for their passion and devotion. But they also thanked the male fans that they’d slowly won over, noting the gender ratio was 60-40 now rather than the 95-5 it had been in the 90s. They asked for their biggest male fans to raise their hands, choosing one to come up and sing Don Omar’s part in “Ella y yo.”
Jose from El Salvador (a fellow countryman) was the lucky pick, nailing the first verse to encouragement of the audience… before flopping on the second and being playfully shoved off. Romeo chooses another contestant, a man who insists on being called El Flaco. After some skepticism, El Flaco puts everyone in their place by rocking the song, complimenting the band beautifully before finishing to a round of applause.
Keeping up the reggaeton vibe, they moved on to another collative song, this time with Wisin y Yandel, “Noche de sexo.”
Gasps of joy welcomed ‘Alexandra,” one of the first songs the band ever wrote together. This was followed by a powerful rendition of “Hermanita” where videos of women holding up a QR code leading to a charity site for battered women played in the background.
The band’s closing track was “Obsesíon,” the early 2000’s hit that blew up and put them on the map. Powerful guitars and drums brought a new intensity to the song. Giant Aventura balloons were
Released from either side of the stage, joined by streams of confetti during the last verse. And the lights fade to black.
Some people took this opportunity to leave, but most people knew better. After a bit of a wait, a futuristic neon blue back played on the screens, with panels lifting to reveal the band one last time. They’d changed into clothes that slightly resembled what they’d worn in their comeback music video. And with good reason, as the song they’d decided to encore with was the titular “Inmortal.”
When they began to retreat back to the platform from whence they came nearing the end of the song, fans knew it was over for real. They became louder than ever before, taking one last picture while others stool very still, etching the moment into their minded one last time.
The LED panels descended over the back as they waved good-bye, choruses of “yo…te…amo” fading on repeat in sync with the darkening lights.
Aventura is a groundbreaking band that revolutionized a genre using fusions and features before it was cool or even acceptable. And they continue to innovate now that such things are industry standard. If you can catch them, do yourself a favor and buy a ticket today. Don’t just take it from me, Houston liked it so much, they filled up the Toyota Center twice.