Rosalía‘s two-day takeover at YouTube Theater was a grand expression of artistry Friday and Saturday nights, wavering between aggressive showstoppers and deeply moving pieces. The contrast was felt by a lively audience hungry for La Rosalia’s first official global outing, the MOTOMAMI WORLD TOUR, to showcase songs from the 2022 critically-acclaimed album Motomami, which heads for its finale in Europe in November and December. Though Rosalia made a splash in 2019 at Coachella, Lollapalooza, Primavera Sound and Glastonbury, performing songs largely from first album El Mal Querer and other earlier material, she never did her rounds globally until the Motomami era. And wow did she make up for lost time, playing a set of largely songs from the new record, with a handful other fan favorites thrown into the mix like “Malamente”, “Pienso en tu mira”, “De aqui no sales”, “Yo x Ti, Tu x Mi” and “Con Altura”. Her unique blend of flamenco-pop, reggaeton, folk and dance certainly kept fans on their toes for nearly 100 minutes of arguably the most daring production to be seen in 2022.
The Spanish multi-hyphenate, is already a superstar in much of Europe and Latin America, having been the first Spaniard to perform as musical guest on Saturday Night Live. She has collaborated with Billie Eilish, The Weeknd, Bad Bunny, Travis Scott and J Balvin and many others. Rosalia danced her face off, alongside a ferocious crew of dancers, she took to the piano, the guitar, she spoke freely to fans in both Spanish and English.
The siren’s dance squad certainly deserve their own paragraph, and most definitely could have an entire article devoted to the intricate choreography which offered precision, risk-taking, humor and overall spontaneity. We would even go as far to say this could have been called the MOMA WORLD TOUR, because there is a high-brow, avant-garde quality to Rosalia’s stage set-up and production, like a meticulously-planned exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art. The outstanding dancers moved at times like one unit, like a high-speed Wi-Fi connection, and other times bounced off of one another, collected themselves in a pile and rearranged themselves around their superstar, egging her on during lively freestyle moments and other beautiful geometric configurations. It was overwhelming, chaotic, fresh, futuristic and completely unpredictable with a minimalist stage set-up centered on a giant white floor-to-ceiling backdrop you might see in a photography studio, only this wasn’t a shoot, it was one non-stop, single shoot music video. To elaborate on that, an in-your-face cameraman was joined on stage, up close to Rosalia for just about the entirety of the show, giving off the feeling of reality/behind-the-scenes footage, and these various MTV-ready angles were blasted out for fans to see like never before. It was a perspective that, like her music offered a truly intimate look into the self-discovery, worry, love and playfulness Rosalia clearly experienced in recording and crafting the Motomami album.
The show launched with jarring noises, what sounded like a J-Pop song production, strobes blazing, screams and race car noises revving up while illuminated futuristic helmet-wearing dancers slouched for a bit like zombies, swaying from the back of the stage while Rosalia did a little reveal with a bright white mask on herself. The set launched with the aggressive and cool “SAOKO”, and when Rosalia shook her little black skirt the place erupted and joined along. Along with the black skirt and matching knee-high boots, Rosalia was decked out in a striking lime green and black striped shirt with an industrial-looking shoulder pad accent. The cameraman was on stage and she batted him away playfully in addition to getting in his face for the whole crowd to observe her every move on screen. Rosalia moved her head with conviction like a 2030 bondage character on American Horror Story that doesn’t even exist yet. Rosalia took it down about 100 notches for the pretty ballad “CANDY”, surrounded by her athletic dancers circulating around her in various punky black outfits, while the entire venue had chills.
Rosalia stood with maximum swagger on the lively “BIZCOCHITO”, gathered in with her crew, fiercely smashing their synced moves, and also giving some serious personality as the YouTube Theater shrieked with excitement. She stood like a total boss with her sidekicks, freestyling alongside her as the crowd joined in on the catchy “da-da-da-da-da” tune. Bachata ballad “LA FAMA” was next with Rosalia putting on her sunglasses in front of the camera, with her dancers listening to their leader with many kneeling as the wind machine whipped her skirt at the front of the stage as she sang along with The Weeknd’s voice.
“LA!” Rosalia brought out the guitar and greeted fans in Spanish, and then took a moment in English, “I was just saying how much I love LA. And so happy I am that you were able to come. I would love to sing you something that I released two years ago called “Dolerme”. She strummed the rather delicate folk-rock song, showing off a completely different side of Rosalia; her lovely voice and showmanship shined, with a vocoder element kicking in later on. The pace was back up for the rhythmic “De Aqui No Sales”, blended with “BULERIAS”, causing a stir in the room with one of her first big flamenco-centered songs as the dancers surround Rosalia, whipping her hair. It was an absolutely insane moment of creativity ending in a brief but exciting halt that brought the crowd to a roar. A nearby fan was seen crying, perhaps from the shock and beauty of the talent being witnessed.
Rosalia recited “Moto” and her fans responded with “Mami” and this stadium-ready exchange took place several times before performing “Motomami” as dancers toppled on one another, almost like a singular art statue, in an aggressive style with production that sounded like Nine Inch Nails. “The next song is a song I wrote, a big part of it here”, shared Rosalia. She of course meant Los Angeles. “I remember it was months and months and I was far from my family for two years. I have never been that far from my nephew. I wasn’t there for that person growing up so fast and I literally was not there to give my love and to witness that. Writing that song was like me writing him a letter. I was hoping with that, he would understand growing up how much I love him”. The song “G3 N15” which actually stands for her nephew’s name Genís, is Rosalia’s retelling of the hardships during lockdown, coupled with a powerful voice message at the end from her grandmother. The moving piece came to life with the dancers holding Rosalia like a female Jesus, followed by the dancers leaning against one another on the floor as she sang the prayer-like song with lots of emotion. The fans sang along in Spanish, and she let them. Rosalia was noticeably moved and some operatic moments were stunning as she performed in Catalan, spinning around on a platform, hitting everyone in the heart as she moved with her hands up to the sky.
“Linda”, which was probably inspired by 90s dance culture, had another round of amazing choreography, with Rosalia shaking her hair (and braids out) like it was no big deal and it was full of multiple stank face moments. Bad Bunny’s down-tempo reggaeton collab “LA NOCHE DE ANOCHE” was next with Rosalia’s feature, in which she went into the pit area with fans while the dancers added mop props to their moves as their fearless leader signed some autographs, bringing the YouTube Theater to a huge crowd cheer. Rosalia sat like a villain in a sort of futuristic barber chair for “Diablo”, with the cameraman continuing to film this extra-long music video in one swoop.
Rosalia hit the piano and let her hair down for the lovely ballad “HENTAI” and the fans echoed her “so so so so good” lyric as well as the rest of the song. This one showed off her vulnerable side and the many qualities to her voice, hitting rich, deep chords beautifully on the piano while singing the melody with fans. The dancers tumbled and twisted and jumped for first album track “PIENSO EN TU MIRA” followed by the synthy ballad “PERDÓNAME” which also had the whole place singing. A massive black train was pinned onto Rosalia, like a long black dress and she rocked out thrashing her hair around for 2017 tune “De Plata”, one of her best showcases of flamenco artistry, with her hands out flowing and incredible runs like an opera singer. While the rhythmic strumming played, Rosalia offered some mystical motions with her hands, embodying the spirituality of the song and she cried the most innocent tear at the end.
Rosalia recited the alphabet in Spanish with the audience during “Abcdefg”, laying down on her stomach for one moment, with the dancers back for the beat-heavy track, while the superstar did a flamenco dance with her hands up and she stood atop a white box for “LA COMBI VERSACE” and “TKN” as the dancers continued to grind. “Yo x Ti, Tu x Mi” was mixed up for a moment with “Gasolina” and during “DESPECHA”, at least 20 people were on stage including the dancers for a complete dance party. Even they looked surprised to see Rosalia’s flame, Latin star Rauw Alejandro hit the stage with his blue hair for part of the song, kissing Rosalia, and resulting in screams from the crowd and high energy all around.
“Thank you so much for being here”, said Rosalia. “And thank you LA for dancing to bachata like that”. Paced dancing took place during the ballad “AISLAMIENTO”, with the dancers eventually bumping into one another’s chests and then falling away. Later, the crew was flipping all around Rosalia, kneeling side-by-side as Rosalia laid across several of their bodies. The “Blinding Lights (Remix)” was next, with Rosalia singing for her life on The Weeknd’s smash in Spanish and the dancers crushed their rather chaotic moves. Following “CHIRI” and “COMO UN G” on vocoder with the wind machine blowing her hair while on her knees, the rhythmic and aggressive “MALAMENTE” had the crowd clapping. The dancers looked like they were playing an intimidating game of tag that looked like the next deadly competition on Squid Game.
Rosalia held a bouquet of flowers given to her by fans during the pretty, jazzy Spanish song “DELIRIO DE GRANDEZA” and she said “they smell really good”. The mops were back in the dancers’ hands for “LAX” and Rosalia thanked her fans again in Spanish before hitting the stage front and center and totally in your face for the unstoppable “Con Altura” with so much swagger.
For the encore, the dancers rode out on stage on scooters for the reggaeton banger “CHICKEN TERIYAKI”, a really lively representation of the non-stop speed and motion that went into much of the tour’s uptempo songs. Rosalia was seated once more for the ballad “SAKURA”, eventually standing up with her hair sweaty and tangled from all the hard work, offering up another gorgeous tone, like a prayer from centuries before. She smiled at the crowd and it was a big wow overall, with lovely piano. She sat at the edge of the stage and gave a shout out to her keys player and hugged him. The wild night of live music and performance ended with the crazy, dance-rock tune “CUUUUuuuuuute”, leaving fans mesmerized.
Words by Michael Menachem
Images by Jeff Lewis/YouTube Theater