Bad Bunny starts his Most Wanted Tour in Utah this week. Here’s why.

The Puerto Rican singer-rapper’s Delta Center show is an indicator of the growing power of Utah’s Latino fan base.

(Photo illustration by Christopher Cherrington | The Salt Lake Tribune) Puerto Rican singer-rapper Bad Bunny is scheduled to start his North American "Most Wanted Tour" on Wednesday, Feb. 21, at Delta Center in Salt Lake City.

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Why is a worldwide music sensation starting his North American tour this week at Delta Center?

For Bad Bunny, the Puerto Rican singer-rapper who’s launching his “Most Wanted Tour” Wednesday night in Salt Lake City — the first of 47 shows in 31 cities — it came down to good timing and the support of Utah’s growing Latino fan base.

Bad Bunny’s show is the “highest grossing single-day concert” in Delta Center’s nearly 33-year history, said Mark Powell, the arena’s senior vice president of events.

As Bad Bunny was planning the tour, Powell said, his agent reached out to Delta Center directly.

“He’d heard this was a great market for Latinx shows,” Powell said.

The numbers back that up, Powell said. For every Delta Center show, he said, the arena conducts a post-concert survey to gauge how positively people feel about a show. “A good [survey] score is usually about 30 to 35,” Powell said. “For all our Latinx shows, we have an average [survey] score of 70, which is just off the charts.”

Powell cited the success Delta Center has had with the Mexican singer-songwriter Carin León, who has played the arena twice in the last two years.

“When Carin León came the first time, it was a very small, independent promoter that was out of Mexico,” Powell said. After the show, Powell said that León “told us … that he’s going to tell all his friends how great a place this is to play.”

Last year, such acts as Banda MS, Christian Nodal and Peso Pluma also played Delta Center. Pluma played his first U.S. arena show here last June, and it sold out in three weeks, Powell said.

Powell said Delta Center has between seven and 10 more shows by Latino artists coming in 2024. Mexican singer Luis Miguel is scheduled to play there on April 28. And the Colombian singer Feid, also known as Ferxxo, is set to perform there May 15 as part of his “Ferxxocalipsis” tour of North America.

In the next few months, other Salt Lake County venues are bringing in such acts as Colombian singer-songwriter Andrés Cepeda, Mexican rock bands Caifanes and Cafe Tacvba, the Mexican singer Xavi, the Mexican grupera trio Los Temerarios and the Mexican rock acts División Minúscula and Jumbo.

“That genre of music is really exploding nationwide, and Salt Lake is no different,” Powell said.

According to a study issued in October by the entertainment data company Luminate and reported in Daily Variety, music in Spanish is now listened to more in the United States than music in any language besides English — and one out of every 13 songs streamed is in Spanish.

A musician making history

Bad Bunny is one of the acts leading that surge — making history, as charted by Billboard, as the first Spanish-language artist to be Spotify’s most globally streamed artist in 2020, a feat he repeated in 2021 and 2022. (It took the cultural juggernaut that is Taylor Swift to knock him out of the top spot last year.)

Bad Bunny’s 2021 “El Último Tour Del Mundo” became the fastest-selling tour since 2018. His 2022 album “Un Verano Sin Ti’' was on the Billboard 200 chart for 13 non consecutive weeks — and went on to win best música urbana album at the 65th Grammy Awards, and was a nominee for album of the year.

Last year, he became the first Spanish-language artist to close out a set at Coachella. Under his given name, Benito Antonio Martinez Ocasio, he’s also acted in the movies “Bullet Train” with Brad Pitt and “Cassandro” with Gael Garcia Bernal.

His hallmark is a combination of reggaeton and trap that he continues to stand by, tracing back to his Caribbean roots.

That’s the music that Jeff Quispe heard on the radio that got him interested in Bad Bunny. Quispe, who’s from Peru and lives in Utah, said he’s been a fan ever since the artist’s debut album, “X 100pre (Por Siempre),” in 2018.

“In Latin America, we listen to a lot of reggaeton, trap, salsa, bachata,” Quispe said. “X 100pre,” he added, “was more like a trap album instead of reggaeton. I love that album. And then, basically, the rest is history.”

Having Bad Bunny start his tour in Salt Lake City is “a big advantage” for local fans, Quispe said. “I don’t have to travel, like, to Vegas or other places to see him.”

Quispe said he’s seen Bad Bunny live twice before, but he doesn’t have tickets for the show — he wasn’t selected for Ticketmaster’s coveted presale codes, and after that the tickets were too expensive. (Powell said ticket pricing is controlled by the artist.) Quispe said he’s hopeful to snag a ticket somehow.

Ann Clark, 56, has her tickets for Wednesday’s show. Her kids introduced her to Bad Bunny, she said, and she’s been a fan since 2021. She doesn’t speak Spanish, but the language barrier isn’t an issue, she said.

“I can’t understand what he’s singing about, I just like the beat,” she said. “The music appeals to me without even knowing.”

Quispe said that part of Bad Bunny’s legacy is that his fans span the world and over language barriers. It’s a toss-up, he said, whether some fans will pick up on his Spanish slang references.

Abram Spencer, another fan, served a mission in Mexico for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and is fluent in Spanish.

“When I first got there, the first thing I heard was Bad Bunny, and I just kind of fell in love with it. It was like a connection,” Spencer said. “So when I got home, I just kind of dug deeper into Bad Bunny and I discovered songs I never heard before that I absolutely love.” What really sticks out for Spencer, he said, is how Bad Bunny can craft songs about heartbreak.

A great place to start

Starting the tour at Delta Center is also a product of fortunate timing, Powell said. The arena’s most prominent tenants, the Utah Jazz, will have a few days off for Sunday’s NBA All-Star Game.

That break, Powell said, is giving Bad Bunny extra time in the arena before Wednesday’s show.

“He immediately knew this would be a great place for him to rehearse the tour before it goes out,” Powell said.

“Bad Bunny, right now, is the No. 1 Latin artist in the world, in my opinion,” Quispe said. “That he’s opening his tour here in Salt Lake City can open the city to other artists to come and maybe do the opening night of their tours here. … It’s difficult for a Latino artist, especially, to get into other markets, so that’s really impressive.”

For the “Most Wanted Tour,” perhaps Bad Bunny’s words put it best: “Nadie sabe lo que va a pasar mañana. No lo dejes escapar. Porque quiz as no lo vuelvas a ver” — or, in English, “No one knows what’s going to happen tomorrow. Don’t let it slip away. ‘Cause you might never see it again.”

(Ricardo Pinzón | Sony Music Colombia) Colombian singer-songwriter Andrés Cepeda is scheduled to perform April 16, 2024 at Metro Music Hall in Salt Lake City.

Latino stars in Utah

Besides Bad Bunny’s concert Wednesday at Delta Center, these internationally known Spanish-language musical artists are scheduled to come through Utah in the next few months:

Andrés Cepeda • Colombian singer-songwriter, April 16, Metro Music Hall.

División Minúscula and Jumbo • Mexican rock bands, April 25, The Depot.

Luis Miguel • Mexican singer, April 28, Delta Center.

Xavi • Mexican singer, April 28, Union Event Center.

Feid, aka Ferxxo • Colombian singer, May 15, Delta Center.

Caifanes and Cafe Tacvba • Mexican rock bands, June 13, Maverik Center.

Los Temerarios • Mexican grupera trio, August 4, Maverik Center.

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