“When I’m traveling there’s a song that I sing a lot,” Karol G told her hometown of Medellin on Saturday (Dec. 4) during the first of two concerts at Estadio Atanasio Girardot. “It makes me feel very Colombian and I like to play it. I always said that I wanted to sing it when I was standing here.”
The reggaeton mega-star then encouraged the 40,000-plus on hand to take a drink before asking for one herself. And with a drink in one hand, an accordionist by her side, and the Colombian flag on the big screens behind her, Karol G belted out Patricia Teheran’s vallenato classic “Tarde Lo Conoci.”
The whole thing was “very Colombian,” as Karol G might say.
The flames, smoke, laser lights, and fireworks that amped up the concert — which launched at the Medellin soccer stadium at 11:20 p.m. — felt very much like Karol G. But this heartfelt rendition of “Tarde Lo Conoci” felt more like Carolina Giraldo. She was among friends and family and could be her true self. And that meant waving her internal Colombian flag.
“The tour was the best. Very cool,” Karol G said of the Bichota tour, which wraps up in Medellin on Sunday. “But from day one I’ve been waiting for this day.”
Karol G went from performing at any venue or party in Medellin that would accept a female singing reggaeton to headlining the city’s biggest venue with her all-female band on back-to-back nights. It’s a testament to the 30-year-old singer that on a night when her hometown was celebrating her sky-rocketing career, she chose to shine a light on up-and-coming Medellin talent.
Local reggaetoneros Agudelo 888, Blessd, and Ryan Castro opened the show. Fellow Medellin artists Yander & Yostin came out during Karol G’s performance to sing “Sola Es Mujer” with her. And that was followed by Castro returning to sing his hit “Jordan.”
Medellin’s own Feid had opened for Karol G on her two-month U.S. tour but was a not-so-surprise guest Saturday, joining Karol G to sing their new duet “Friky.” Karol G then gave Feid the stage to himself so Fercho could sing “Si Tu Supieras,” which had the audience chanting for more as he walked off stage.
There was no surprise appearance by Karol G’s frequent collaborator and former fiance Anuel AA like there was during her show in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Nov. 27. But their PDA-heavy music video for “Secreto” did play on the big screens as she performed hit, which topped Billboard‘s Latin Airplay chart. And she did talk about moving on from an ex during the night, which may or may not have been alluding to her breakup with Anuel.
“Sometimes we hold onto the past too much because it was happy, because it was a good time, because there was a lot of chemistry, right?” Karol G said during a pause in the love triangle anthem “A Ella.” “But when that ends, that ends. You have to let it go, right? The best part of letting go is you realize the best is yet to come.”
The show was heavy on choreography and at times left Karol G understandably sweaty and breathing heavy. If she was worried about having another mishap after falling down stairs on stage in Miami in late November, she didn’t show it. Karol G walked up and down those same stairs Saturday like she had done the entire tour. And in one of the more memorable moments of the night, she was raised on a small platform high above ground in the center of the stadium as she sang “Ocean.”
Karol G’s vocal coach during her late teen years told Billboard on Wednesday that she couldn’t have been prouder of the way her former student literally bounced back after the fall in Miami.
Mirabay Montoya used to meet with Karol G at 5 a.m. six days a week. There were times when Karol G would leave in tears, a result of her strict teaching style. Karol G’s father didn’t always approve of Montoya’s methods and, on one occasion, Karol G’s fellow students called her a savage.
“We would run 12 km as a warm-up to the lesson at a hill called the Volador,” Montoya recalled from her apartment in Medellin. “Carolina fell and bruised herself and the men went to pick her up. I told them not to: ‘One day she’s going to fall and nobody is going to pick her up. She has to pick herself up.’ That woman stood up and kept running.”
Montoya said seeing Karol G pick herself up in Miami just like she did on that steep hill in Medellin was the proudest she’s been of her former student.
“She stood up and continued on,” said an emotional Montoya, who attended Saturday’s show as Karol G’s guest. “Then in Puerto Rico the next day she stood in the arena and continued on. And then she’ll come (to Medellin) and she won’t stop.”
The last time Karol G toured in Medellin was when she performed at the smaller La Macarena as part of her 2019 Ocean tour. That meant she was singing many songs in front of her hometown crowd for the first time, including “Bichota,” “200 Copas,” a real crowd-pleaser Saturday, and “Tusa,” her biggest song to date.
The latter track — which spent four weeks at No. 1 on Hot Latin Songs — closed the show around 1:15 a.m. There was no encore, and there didn’t need to be. “Tusa” and the fireworks and streamers that accompanied it was the only exclamation point that this homecoming celebration needed.
“The coolest part is that I’m standing here and I’m from the same place that we’re all from,” Karol G said before performing “Tusa,” “Medellin, hijueputa!”