Latino 96.3 Spring Break Bash
Better than... Listening to 96.3 on crummy car speakers in traffic.
It was ladies' night at Universal Citywalk on Saturday. The girls worked the runway from the parking structure to Gibson Amphitheater, elbows locked and dodging tourists while they chugged the last of their drinks before security pat-down. What a brave parade of too-tight mall fashion: bandage dresses, muffin tops, towering stripper heels. The occasional dude had clearly come only to appease his girlfriend (or to prey on a single lady with a head full of love songs).
Yet the show was far from sold out. The four reggaeton artists on the lineup -- Cosculluela, Alexis y Fido, Plan B and Ivy Queen -- were leftovers from Latino 96.3's annual Calibash festival three months earlier, a packed event at Staples Center headlined by Wisin y Yandel, biggest name in reggaeton.
These girls working Citywalk, then, had to be L.A.'s most devoted reggaetoneras. A dying breed, ever since Top 40 stations stopped caring about the genre circa 2007.
Lucky for them, the smaller venue/crowd at Spring Break Bash made the concert an intimate sing-a-long compared to the muddled stadium racket at Staples.
It was like we were back in the car, bumping 96.3 with our girls on the 10 -- but with a way better sound system, and a cloud of cologne to cuddle with. Plus lasers!
Here, our five favorite moments of the night.
5. Alexis y Fido romance us in Spanglish.
"Si te sientes sexy, get your hands up!" Alexis instructed the ladies in the swoon pit as Fido, the other half of this Puerto Rican duo, started in on the steamy chorus to "Rescate." His robo-frog hooks were just as rich and skeezy in person, melting hairspray and dropping panties on a dime.
It's a shame Wisin y Yandel couldn't have been there, but Alexis y Fido were the next best thing. They have that same talent for convincing a girl she's the only one in the room -- and therefore playing the ultimate wingmen to whoever's trying to take her home.
Even the motley crew of dancers in sparkly bras and camo Hammer pants encircling Fido served to turn the spotlight back on the minas ordinarias in the stands. "You're too hot, baby!" said Alexis to no girl in particular, his thick Spanish accent turning somewhat FOBbish interjections into sweet nothings.
4. La Comadre Raq C (and the rest of the 96.3 personalities) think this is their prom night.
Raq C is 96.3's most memorable emcee -- an unstoppable bobblehead with the cutest damn Spanglish this side of Sofia Vergara. She kept emerging throughout the night, a girl-next-door kind of comfort with fake tits and huge hair, talking about cellulite and making her co-hosts chug big Citywalk beers onstage like this was her normal spot during L.A. morning rush hour.
DJ Eddie One's set was also a huge winner ("Pasame la botella," "Intentalo," "Ai Se Eu Te Pego," etc.). Because really, all any woman wanted was to listen to all her favorite songs really loud in public.
3. The wall of lights behind Plan B turns into a giant Puerto Rican flag.
Chencho and Maldy are in it for the long haul. They had a huge hit, "Tú sabes," on the first reggaeton compilation that ever went international, and -- a decade later -- are still on the top of the charts with "Si no le contesto." The singing half, Chencho, has transformed into an almost Bruno Mars-ish character with thick-rimmed hipster glasses, a refreshing contrast to the douchey soul-patch look popularized by Wisin y Yandel and Daddy Yankee. In an awkward time for pushing Puerto Rican pop onto EDM-happy Los Angeles, here's the man to bridge that gap.
And his voice! All honey.
2. Ivy Queen gets emotional.
As hard as Raq C and Eddie One rocked the place, this was Ivy Queen's night. In a leather tutu onesie and magenta wig that made Lady Gaga look like a troll by comparison, she pranced and hair-whipped her way through street bangers like "Te he querido, te he llorado" and "La vida es así." Yet somehow, as if unaware of how fabulous she was, the Queen acted shocked at her encore -- placing one hand over her heart and shedding what looked like an actual tear. (Raq C did warn the crowd beforehand: "She's super humble. She answers you on Twitter!")
Most importantly, Ivy Queen is a woman. In fact, she's the only woman in reggaeton -- yet she can dembow harder than any lady-killer on FM radio. Who cares about the rumors she's transgender? With the buildup of mascara and stiletto in the Gibson that night, gender lines were pretty blurred all around.
1. Completely out-of-nowhere tribute to Snoop Dogg and Tupac.
We can only assume this had something to do with the hologram stunt being pulled a couple hours east at Coachella. But when the 96.3 house DJ started playing "California Love" over a montage of polaroids of Tupac's tattoos -- and Ivy Queen threw up a "Westside" symbol in solidarity -- the strange mish-mash of Latin American and L.A. pride became almost too joyous to bear.
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Personal Bias: I'm obsessed with reggaeton.
The Crowd: You know those stores in the mall that sell even cheaper girls-night-out clothes than Forever 21, with names like "Rave" and "Fashion Star"? Where you can't take a shirt off the hanger without 15 sequins fluttering to the floor? Now we know why they're still in business.
Random Notebook Dump: "Raq C just gave a shoutout to 'the only Asian girl in the crowd.' Crickets."