It was fitting, then, for Balvin to kick off his set with “Reggaeton," his rowdy homage to the genre -- followed by a surprise appearance from Spanish singer Rosalía to perform their collab "Con Altura." Emerging onstage in a color-splattered tee, his buzzcut speckled with neon leopard print, Balvin transported festivalgoers into a candy-colored, cartoonish dream world onstage, complete with an enormous anime sculpture, a rocking horse-like duck (which he rode across the stage) and inflatable cartoon characters galore. The trippy setup was made possible by a collab with FriendsWithYou, an art collective known for surreal, large-scale installations.
Toys also helped Balvin perform his smash “I Like It” sans collaborators Cardi B and Bad Bunny. During the song -- which instantly turned the crowd into an enormous rager -- impersonators wearing giant Emoji heads in Cardi and Bunny’s images stood in for the stars, bouncing onstage like bobbleheads to the track’s boogaloo beat.
Amid showing off his own Latin Grammy-winning catalog, Balvin also took a moment to pay tribute to the reggaetoneros before him. “Esta noche, estamos represantando Latinos por reggaeton,” he said. “We’re going to pay homage to the old G’s.” With that, Balvin danced and egged on the crowd to a medley of reggaeton classics, including N.O.R.E. and Daddy Yankee’s 2006 “Oye Mi Canto” and Yankee’s 2004 monster hit “Gasolina.” And there were more surprise guests in store: At one point, dancehall king Sean Paul hopped onstage to perform their team-up "Contra La Pared."?
Balvin joins a seemingly unprecedented number and range of Latin acts at this year's fest, including Rosalía, Chilean singer Mon Laferte and regional Mexican act Tucanes de Tijuana. And Balvin isn’t done making history, either -- he will become Lollapalooza’s first-ever Latin music headliner when he performs at the Chicago fest in August.