If there’s one rapper out there who knows a thing or two about branding, it’s Pitbull. The Miami native’s music is not only the Bud Light of rap, he’s actually endorsed by Bud Light (and about a half a dozen other major brands, not to mention all the other companies he owns). Everything about him is designed to sell you a party—all of his ultra polished pop tunes revolve around the ethos of his signature catch phrase: Dalé! (“Let’s go for it!”). Last Friday was no exception as the 35 year-old suave superstar took the stage at the Honda Center.
After openers Farruko and Prince Royce serenaded a mainly seated crowd with mostly Spanish sets, it was clear that the audience was already anxious for the main event. After all, fans arrived extra early to snap pictures with cardboard cutouts placed throughout the arena of Mr. Worldwide himself.
As I maneuvered my way through large crowds of die-hard Pitbull fans, I looked a little out of place. Expecting to be in a crowd of young adults, I found myself in a crowd of real adults. It turns out that Mr. 305’s biggest fans in Anaheim were escaping their children for the night. Dads seemed to mimic Pitbull’s famous look, sporting tight tees and polos, even tighter pants, and giant aviator-type sunglasses, while moms squeezed into bright body-con dresses and skirts. I suddenly walked out of the Anaheim Honda Center and into a Miami nightclub.
Once the house lights dimmed, fans shot out of their seats and onto their feet, expecting Pitbull to appear. Instead, two screens lowered on each side of the stage, playing footage of the musician’s campaigns for Norwegian Cruise Lines and LoveFL.com—there’s that branding again!
By the time Pitbull took the stage with “Don’t Stop the Party,” it was already 9:30. Several couples repeatedly glanced at the time, and one duo even mentioned they would have to leave earlier than expected to relieve their babysitter of her duties.
As Pitbull continued with “International Love” and “Rain Over Me,” fans danced around the aisles, completely ignoring their assigned seats and pissing off security, making the Honda Center really look like a club venue. Mr. Worldwide seemed to cast a carefree spell over his audience, making them completely forget about their children back home.
Towards the middle of his set, the rapper unleashed “Fireball,” “Hotel Room Service,” and “I Know You Want Me (Calle Ocho),” causing the crowd to go nuts. Chairs toppled over and beer covered the floor as fans belted out the words to Pitbull’s hits. There wasn’t a single song that Anaheim fans didn’t know.
When the artist announced that he had received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame just hours before taking the stage, the arena went off in praise. Praise quickly turned into “Fuck Trump” chants as Pitbull began ranting about “bullshit politicians” before segueing into his final song, “Give Me Everything.”
After taking a final bow and heading off stage, the crowd waited at least another ten minutes for an encore that never came. Despite that minor disappointment, fans stumbled out of the arena in their club – uh, concert – attire, still filled with energy and ready for an after party. And for those wondering…Mr. Worldwide said “Dalé” only 13 times that night.