This Friday, February 8, two of the biggest names in reggaeton will be performing in Medellin, Daddy Yankee and Wisin y Yandel.
I missed Daddy Yankee in 2009 when I left Medellin before his show, and again in 2010, when his concert in Medellin was cancelled a few days after I’d bought tickets.
Wisin y Yandel are not my favorites, but when I heard they were coming to town in May 2011, I figured it’d be a fun time. Instead, it was totally infuriating, and left me in no rush to attend this week’s concert, despite finally having the chance to see my favorite reggaeton singer.
Let’s rewind to 2011.
Buying the Tickets
I’m going out with a girl, and want to take her to the concert. My friends Brendan and Ana are still here, and interested in going too. Ana’s paisa friend wants to go as well.
This is where the mistake occurs. Ana’s friend wants the cheapest ticket, while I (and probably Brendan and Ana) would normally opt for more expensive ones to get a better view, or avoid lines.
I thought about going independent of Ana and her friend, but it seemed a bit rude, so I suggested to Brendan that we all buy the cheap, general admission tickets. They were only $20 a pop, so that part wasn’t bad.
Night of the Concert
I can’t remember the date of the concert, but it’s safe to say, it was the biggest event in Medellin that night. The event was taking place under a massive circus-style tent in Envigado, right off Avenida Las Vegas.
It was estimated that Wisin y Yandel would perform around 11 PM, so I suggested we get there at 8 PM, a full three hours before the main act. A few of the opening acts were worth catching, too, including Tego Calderon and Jowell & Randy.
Ana and her friend were already standing in line when Brendan, myself and my date arrived by taxi. We were at the end of a line at least three blocks long.
I was immediately disheartened, due to the impossible length of it, and the fact that cutting was likely going to slow us down even further.
On the plus side, there were plenty of vendors selling beer and stuff, so at least I could take my mind off the wait with a cold Pilsen.
A Plan Gone Wrong
After about an hour of waiting in the line, and with no end of it in sight, a man came by and offered to take all five of us to the front of the line for 100,000 pesos ($50).
We decided this was a worthy investment, but wanted to hedge our bets. Ana and her friend would go first, and call us once they were inside. They’d pay the man 50,000 pesos, and then he’d come back for Brendan, myself, and my date.
The man whisked Ana and her friend off, toward the front of the line, which we still could not see. A little while later, we spoke by phone, but we couldn’t understand what she was telling us. It didn’t sound like she was inside the venue, and she just said to look for her when we got there.
When the man came back for the rest of us, we were away and literally running toward the front. As we got closer, he had us holding hands as it got more crowded.
Ultimately, we squeezed past the security checkpoint, which was now behind us. We were in a small, open area. To our left were gates into the tent. Most were for VIP ticket holders, and none of them had lines.
At the far end, was what appeared to be a general admission ticket gate, with a line running off of it into an adjacent parking lot. We walked down that line, looking for Ana, and founder her in line with her friend. I noticed cars were literally pulling off the highway, parking, and people were getting out to join our new line.
Our bribe had simply lead us from the middle of one line, to the end of another. We’d wasted at least an hour waiting in the first one, and $50. I was furious.
I bought another beer, and tried to keep myself calm. It didn’t work. Thankfully, Brendan was there for some comic relief, but even he was increasingly frustrated.
Despite now being in a much smaller line, it seemed to move even slower than the first one.
It’d take two more hours for us to actually enter the venue. We were amongst the last people to get into the concert that night, because when I looked behind us, there was practically nobody left. By then, I was so pissed off I couldn’t enjoy the show.
The whole tent was so packed, the only place left to stand was the outer fringes, at a diagonal view of the stage.
I could barely see Wisin y Yandel when they went on, let alone appreciate the stage show.
My Advice for Attending Large-Scale Concerts in Colombia
Needless to say, my advice for attending large concerts in Colombia, whether it be a reggaeton show like the one this Friday, or Madonna, who performed in Medellin twice last year, is to buy the best tickets you can afford.
At a minimum, they should be VIP level.
When looking at the options for Friday’s concert, it took a few questions for me to understand what’s going on with the seating chart and ticket prices.
The show is all ages, and being held at Estadio Polideportivo Sur de Envigado. Tickets can be purchased at Emporium Jeans stores, Bodytech gyms, or any Ticket Express location.
- Preferencia = 65,000 pesos ($37)
- VIP = 83,000 pesos ($47)
- Gramilla Especial = 132,000 pesos ($74)
- Palcos = unknown
The event is happening in a soccer stadium, with the stage along one of the sidelines. The palcos will be the closest seating option. Basically, they’re like box seats, which can hold a group of people, and feature alcohol and drink service.
I don’t know the cost for an entire palco, but my paisa friend tells me you don’t have to buy the whole thing. So if a palco holds 10 people, it’s possible you can buy access as a couple, and they’ll stick you with an 8-person group. But then you have no idea who you’ll be sharing the space with.
The next best seating is Gramilla Especial, which is also on the field level, but behind the palcos. VIP is in the stands directly behind the Gramilla Especial, with a straight view of the stage. Lastly, the Preferencia is on the sides of the stadium, and therefore the worst seating option.
If I were to go, I’d buy at least the Gramilla Especial access, unless I knew a group I could join for a palco.
For additional information, visit the Gran Mazana Facebook page.
This is typical. In the past I had to convince my wife, who is Paísa, that it is worth it to pay a little bit extra for a much better experience. If I don’t have enough money to enjoy the show I simply won’t go. If it turns out a friend is unable to afford the better seats I would lend them the extra money for them to join us. Just be careful because there are many malo pagos and it could be months before you see all of the money.
However, I will say that 132,000 COP is a lot of money for one night and that’s not including taxi, food, beer, etc. That is more than half of our month’s rent when Tomasa and I lived in Medellín. So from a Colombian perspective I can see where they are coming from but foreigners coming into the country with foreign currency have no excuse.
Glad you could see where I’m coming from. I feel the same way after that experience. If I can’t afford better tickets, I’m not going to bother.
Also, I’ve found I enjoy hip-hop and reggaeton concerts less than rock/indie/alternative/punk shows. If it were the Red Hot Chili Peppers playing, I’d buy a pair of good tickets. As much as I like Daddy Yankee, I’m satisfied hearing his music in a club. I don’t need to see him live.
I would have just purchased her a more expensive ticket instead of buying a cheap seat myself. Instead of simply helping her buy a more expensive ticket so you could all do so, you all purchase the cheap seats and you all suffered because of it. Sure she could have been hedging her bets that would happen… but I’d either do it or I’d say see ya at the concert while I purchase the VIP tickets.
Good point Carl, I didn’t even thinking for us to chip in and buy the friend a better ticket. Of course I didn’t expect to wait in line 3 hours either!
Now I know.
Great post here, Dave. I feel you definitely get more out of the night if you just pay for the better seats and don’t have to wait hours in line, especially in a place like Latin America — which is somewhat parallel to paying for a short flight rather than spending hours on a 3rd world bus ride 😉 … On a related note, I was VERY unimpressed by the Don Omar concert I went to in Medellin. My basic attitude now is just to go to a club if I want to hear the music. Cover and drinks is usually less than a concert ticket.
Ah, that sucks. Another of my favorites, J. Alvarez, is playing a show at a discoteca here in March.
Once again, I’m tempted to go, but I think it’d be more of a new thing to do on a date, not something I’d personally get a lot out of.
That said, I did see Chino y Nacho at a club in Lima, and thought that show was worthwhile, but their music is more pop than reggaeton.