“For your family at home to love you,” Karol G said mid-concert Saturday night, “that’s worth gold.” The Colombian artist sang an intimate rendition of “Ocean” on a small circular lever that propelled her front and center of a crowd of over 50,000 people. The song’s lyrics took on new meaning as they bent to fit the occasion, as the 30-year-old Latin pop singer made history as one of the few women (joining Madonna and Beyoncé) – and the first female reggaeton artist – to perform at Medellín, Colombia’s beloved Estadio Atanasio Giradot.
“I feel big thanks to you,” she sang in Spanish, “all of my happiness is thanks to you.” For months, supporters from the capital of Antioquia have waited for this moment. On the drive from the local international airport to Poblado—a beloved commune and name to the now local staple track whose remix she features on—a billboard of an earnest Karol G stands tall on the side of the highway, greeting locals and visitors alike. “La niña de Medellín vuelve a casa,” it reads. “Medellín’s girl comes home.”
The hometown show pulled from the team’s creative reserves, exceeding and expanding on the vision for her recent slew of U.S. shows from the Bichota Tour, leaving no doubts as to what the artist’s favored stop was. From a 26-song deep setlist and several outfit changes to surprise guests plus the soft launch of a new track, and an explosive ending, the night left little to be desired; a matured and seemingly self-assured Karol G came home to herself this year, making coming home to her extended family in Medallo seem like an easy task.
At 2:30 p.m. on the first day of her back-to-back nights at Colombia’s Choli, talent at the venue warned of heavy traffic on the way to the stadium. The show was set for an 8 p.m. start time but cars and people lined up hours ahead of that, indulging in local street food and nabbing bright homemade merch. The blue and orange seat colors across the expansive coliseum where football club Atlético Nacional usually plays were slowly but surely invisible as the stadium filled up with a sea of fans who sent roaring waves to and fro at opposite ends of the open-air space as they waited for the star of the night to make her debut. With three openers before her, Karol G was expected to go on at 10:45 p.m. but kicked off around 11:20.
Sporting large hoop earrings, black studded leather pants and a half-bustier above a white top which, like a dazzling red ensemble she’d wear later on, had “Bichota” sprawled across it, Karol G entered mid-stage and kicked things off with her latest track, “SeJodioTo,” followed by one of her oldest yet most recognizable, sexy and, quite literally, squeaky songs, “Mi Cama.”
The artist’s last show in Medellín was in 2019 following the release of her debut album, Ocean. Now, with 2021’s KG0516 in her back pocket, Karol returned to unleash new experimental layers—alt-rock prowess being a repeat offender on live versions of the likes of “Gato Malo” and “Ahora Me Llama,” as well as a dive into EDM on her summer single with Dutch DJ Tiesto, “Don’t be Shy.” As is the case with any reunion between lovers, Karol G took a moment to remind some of her most loyal fans of what brought them together in the first place with throwbacks like 2018’s career-shifting track “Pineapple,” 2017’s “A Ella,” and songs with her former partner “Culpables” and “Secreto.”
Anuel AA had made an unexpected appearance in one of Karol G’s shows at Puerto Rico’s iconic Choliseo despite her wishes to perform alone. The former couple is on good terms, but he didn’t show face at this one, and the moment was fully hers to relish.
Almost exactly halfway through the show, the soon-to-be actress brought on a small bevy of Colombian guests. First, for a performance of “Sola Es Mejor” – a celebration of welcomed, newfound solitude – was dynamic duo Yandar and Yostin, followed by new artist Ryan Castro who was invited to perform his track “Jordan” with the “bebsita.”
Later, Karol G and Feid – Universal Music’s latest, most promising act and refreshing experimental addition to this wave of Latin pop – performed a new song they teased on social media earlier this week, “Freaky.” The number features references to each of their projects and is a seamless blend of their styles. The artist also got a moment to make a case for his stardom with four minutes of solo time on stage which he aptly used to perform “Si Tú Supieras,” a syrupy bonus track that shines on Intershibuya.
In addition to singing “Poblado” on home base, Karol G veered away from the expected to perform a stripped-down version of “Tarde Lo Conocí,” originally by Patricia Teherán, known as the Goddess of Vallenato. The song was performed alongside Maria Silena Valle who played the accordion. Serving as a simple display of her vocal range and ode to the country that raised her with its flag consuming the screens behind and around her, the moment takes home the prize for one of the most special junctures of the night.
After nearly two hours at 1:20am, the show ended with a crowd-carried performance of her hit with Nicki Minaj, “Tusa.” Although the song came out in 2019 and has hit several milestones since, Karol G had yet to perform it live at home, and there is no world in which this wasn’t a part of her setlist. Ending on a women-empowering, forward-looking note in which the protagonist steers the boat of her personal and professional life was a fitting end to the night.
When we spoke to Karol in 2019, she said “I can sit with you in two, three years and know [that] things are going to be super different.” Now, they are. Karol G is the same artist she was back then; the same, but different.
“I didn’t want to get off stage,” the artist gleefully tells me in the quiet moments of reflection after the confetti was unleashed and the fireworks ended. “Tomorrow’s happening and [this all] hasn’t hit me yet… we’ll be back!”