Electric Rodeo

Pitbull Maintains Full-Tilt Energy for Huge Rodeo Crowd

Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo
NRG Stadium
March 8, 2016

Clad in a black suit and sunglasses, surrounded by scantily clad dancers, Miami’s Pitbull shared his personal vision of the American Dream with the biggest RodeoHouston crowd of the year on Tuesday night.

Mr. Worldwide's performance began with a list of his achievements, from humble beginnings as a son of Cuban expatriates all the way to his creation of a charter school in his hometown. And, of course, there was mention of the world tours that have provided him his nickname.

But the evening wasn’t entirely devoted to Pitbull’s accomplishments, or even solely to his music. He supplemented his Latin-infused pop hits with assorted classic-rock greats, including nods to Phil Collins, Ozzy Osbourne, Nirvana, Lenny Kravitz and Guns N' Roses.

His set list was about as diverse as Houston’s population, transitioning from Collins's “In the Air Tonight” to “Don’t Stop the Party,” then “Smells Like Teen Spirit” followed by “International Love.” It was a lot to process in just 60 minutes, and the segues weren’t always smooth, but Pitbull kept the energy at full tilt, never allowing the crowd a chance to get bored.

Though his repertoire contains a few decent lyrics here and there, guest features are the crux of most of his songs, from Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony to Usher and Ne-Yo. Tuesday, more fans sang along to the phoned-in choruses than to any of the Cuban-American’s own verses.

And therein lies the paradox that is a Pitbull concert: the star power of an aggrandized hype man. 

During “International Love,” Pitbull boasted of his ability to score touchdowns and home runs everywhere he goes, even though he doesn't play football or baseball professionally.

Whether he realized it or not, this line might have been the best description of both Tuesday night's show and his career as a whole. His songs' popular choruses were once sung by T-Pain, Chris Brown and Ke$ha; yet those artists are now irrelevant, still recovering from a PR nightmare following a domestic-assault conviction and trapped in a contract with an alleged sexual abuser, respectively.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday night, Pitbull stood in front of 72,149 screaming fans as he put another RodeoHouston notch in his belt. Quite the Hail Mary.

Don’t Stop the Party
International Love
Hey Baby (Drop It to the Floor)
Rain Over Me
Vivir La Vida
Danza Kuduro (Throw Your Hands Up)
Sube Las Manos Pa Arriba
Back in Time
I Know You Want Me (Calle Ocho)
On the Floor
I Like It
DJ Got Us Fallin’ in Love
Feel This Moment
Give Me Everything
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Matt is a regular contributor to the Houston Press’ music section. He graduated from the University of Houston with a degree in print journalism and global business. Matt first began writing for the Press as an intern, having accidentally sent his resume to the publication's music editor instead of the news chief. After half a decade of attending concerts and interviewing musicians, he has credited this fortuitous mistake to divine intervention.
Contact: Matthew Keever