The kickoff to the month-long Aventura Reunion Concert at the United Palace Theater in Washington Heights Feb. 4 was a parranda from start to finish. It began with pre-concert, bumper-to-bumper traffic and the line of eager fans that wrapped around the building, allowing a moment to soak in the big Hollywood lights out front.
Inside, as the Dominican royalty prepared to take the stage, lights were dimmed, the “Aventura” chant began, and a sea of cell phones flashed, waiting for the historic moment in bachata history. The “Kings of Bachata,” as they’re known, hadn’t been together since announcing their split in 2010 and this series of concerts — which will extend at the United Palace during the month of February — has been billed as the last ever Aventura shows. Romeo, Henry, Max and Lenny Santos (Romeo and Henry are cousins, Lenny and Max are brothers), chose to return to the Palace, with a capacity of just 3200 seats, “because it all started here fifteen years ago,” said Romeo.
On Thursday night, it all started with the guys wearing all white ensembles and kicking off the show with “El Desprecio,” a signature Aventura bachata track from their 2009 album The Last that’s full of love lyrics, plus the hip thrusts and kiss blowing that are part of an Aventura performance.
It was an appropriate pick for a show that truly took fans back to Aventura’s roots, in many ways. At what other concert can you buy Hennessey or Buchanan’s straight up from your seat or a pastelito or quipe before heading in? And although Romeo Santos is now a global star, this show was all about Dominican Americans and true “Aventureros” who have loved this group since, as Romeo put it, ” All four of us, especially me, looked like shit. ‘Ninety pounds – he got a lumpy head but he’s kinda’ cute’ and you still showed love.’”
And while it was all one huge love fest, it was obvious the star here is Romeo. Henry did a great job at keeping the audience entertained with intricate solos (while Romeo changed) where he played against a backdrop of a montage of images featuring his musical career; but it felt a bit like a consolation prize. The ongoing joke between Romeo and Henry may have been about who the real “rey” was, but Romeo made his thoughts clear with a “you fucking know it” that sent the crowd into a roar.
As far as repertoire went, though, it was all Aventura, not Romeo Santos, and fans — male and female — sang along to hit after hit as if they had rehearsed. Aventura managed to keep the energy up even during their sappier love songs, and unexpected high points included Lenny and Max jamming out for five minutes on their guitars in an intense brother moment following “Noche de sexo.”
And of course, the encore: Landmark song “Obsesion.”
The evening was a reminder of why we fell in love with Aventura in the first place. These men brought bachata to the mainstream and represented the culture with love and respect. References to jugo de chinola and the way tigres chase women are why a reunion tour was necessary