There were plenty of vendors selling energy drinks at the California Mid-State Fair on Thursday night, but they weren’t needed. Cuban-American rapper Armando Pérez is an energy drink personified.
In front of about 15,000 concertgoers at the Chumash Grandstand Arena in Paso Robles, Pérez — better known by his stage name, Pitbull, or his nickname, Mr. Worldwide — rifled through his catalogue of hits that have been flooding pop radio stations since 2009 and racking up record sales north of 40 million.
The Miami-born star, who released his first album in 2004, emerged from backstage looking as if he just stepped away from a nighttime party on a Biscayne Bay yacht. Wearing a finely tailored black suit, and sporting dark aviator shades on his signature clean-shaven head, Pitbull opened the show with his catchy 2012 hit “Don’t Stop the Party” And, for an hour and 20 minutes, the party didn’t stop. Throughout the entire show, a smile was never too far from Pitbull’s face — a face of a man who clearly enjoys his job.
The large crowd lifted cell phones in unison to capture performances of popular songs including “International Love,” “On the Floor” and “Get it Started.” For each number, Pitbull was surrounded by six dancing vixens wearing lingerie-inspired outfits.
During the concert, Mr. 305 (Miami’s area code) shared stories of his experiences partying in the 805. He also took time in the middle of the show to talk about his struggles as a child growing up the son of Cuban immigrants, and his feeling that he embodies the American Dream. After a brief roll call in which he shouted out major South and Central American countries, much to the mostly Latino audience’s delight, the man who has topped the pop charts 20 times worldwide danced his way into a Spanish-language mini-set. The most popular song was his 2011 collaboration with Marc Anthony, “Rain Over Me”.
The show featured an interesting mix of pop-infused salsa, merengue and rock and roll. On top of the rhythmic conga drums and flutes, snippets of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit”, Roy Orbison’s “Pretty Woman“ and Guns N' Roses’ “Sweet Child O' Mine” made brief appearances during the set.
After trading in his black jacket for what appeared to be a white silk jacket, Pitbull performed portions of radio regulars “Timber”, “DJ Got Us Falling In Love” and another crowd favorite, “Feel This Moment.” As the samba-inspired "Fireball" blared from the speakers, smoke machines cranked vapor into the sky against the background of spinning Ferris wheels.
Pitbull closed the show with his first No. 1 hit — also the lead single off his 2011 album — “Give Me Everything.” One fan showed her love for the song by tossing her pink bra onto the stage. Pitbull promptly grabbed the undergarment and placed on the shoulder of his smiling bass player.
Surprisingly, the only song that wasn’t performed during Pitbull’s set was his current radio hit, “Time of My Life.” Instead, it played over the speakers as fans exited the fairgrounds — seemingly teasing an encore. There was none.
In all, the show provided a non-stop, fist-pumping party vibe that fans have come to expect from the 34-year-old crossover pop star.
The next time someone asks you to go to a Pitbull show, you should respond using the word that Pitbull uses at the end of each song — dalé (let's go).
Watch more on Pitbull in this CBS special report: