Say the words “reggaeton” and “music festival” in the same sentence and you’ve got all of Miami’s attention. For years, locals have wondered why a Latin music festival hasn’t landed in the 305. The Magic City offers festivals for fans of hip-hop, EDM, left-field electronic music, country, and rock, but it has yet to see a festival with headliners such as Bad Bunny, Anuel AA, Ozuna, and J Balvin. Changing that fact seems to be the main idea behind Vibra Urbana, a newly announced music festival that's claiming to be the first of its kind in Miami.
Vibra Urbana began gaining attention on social media in late November when its official Twitter account opened. Its first tweet, posted November 26, announced the festival's existence and offered a ticket giveaway. The tweet included a promotional video that began with Ocean Drive in the background. Then numerous screenshots of tweets popped up, all mentioning a desire for a “Spanish music festival” in Miami. It then cut to a screen that read, “We heard you Miami.” The tweet blew up.
At first, it seemed as if all of Miami was onboard. People tagged friends and shared the post. Others had fun in the comments section by betting on which A-list acts would fill the lineup. Even people from out-of-state excitedly tweeted about booking flights for the event. Everyone appeared ready to perrear at Vibra Urbana, but after a few days passed and additional information failed to emerge, some people began to question the festival’s authenticity. Many noted the website for Vibra Urbana was not accessible until a few days after that first tweet, and similarly, the lineup, venue, and ticket details remained unspecified. Further speculation arose when the festival publicized the date of the event: February 22, 2020. Almost immediately, the notably reactionary Twitter hive mind began questioning the proximity between the announcement of the festival's existence and its scheduled date.
Vibra Urbana divulged its venue, the Watsco Center at the University of Miami, December 3. It has also advertised its partnerships with Univision and the popular Latin radio station Mix 98.3 FM. DJ Africa of 98.3 will be the official host and has confirmed his involvement through social media.
Despite the legitimacy of the festival's venue and partnership, some critics have remained skeptical. One point under scrutiny is the festival’s method of announcing the lineup.
“Artists will be revealed as we go through the tiers," a flyer on Vibra Urbana's Twitter page reads. "We want to make sure we reveal the lineup in a unique way that’s never been done before."
Many view that method as a sly attempt to secure ticket sales without disclosing the performers. Some people feared they would purchase tickets and then learn the headlining performers were unknown locals instead of the big names the festival has continued to hint at.
This past Thursday, the festival proved the doubters wrong by sharing the first announced act on the lineup: popular Dominican dembow artist El Alfa. He has worked with Bad Bunny, Anuel AA, and J Balvin and has been instrumental in the popularization of the dembow genre. A typical night at Centro Wynwood or the reggaeton dance party El Perreo includes at least one song by El Alfa, so enthusiasm over the announcement was immense and prompted some naysayers to retract their critiques.
The release of tier-one tickets, which cost $50 per person, accompanied the news of El Alfa's involvement. The highest ticket price listed on the Watsco Center's website is $110, likely reflecting the last tier the festival will offer.
The organizer behind the new Latin fest is still widely unknown, another detail that's led to some uncertainty among Miamians. The local social media-based news source @OfficialJoelF reached out to the festival via direct messages, and he was informed the organizer is Gemineye Entertainment. A quick Google search yields no information about the company. Publicly available information has been restricted to the event’s social media pages and the numerous South Florida promoters endorsing it.
New Times reached out to some of the festival’s promoters but received terse or no responses. Asked for general information, one local promoter, who claimed to be one of Vibra Urbana's main organizers, said, "We are not releasing any info to the public." Requests for comment from the Vibra Urbana Instagram account and the festival’s marketing firm, the Doral-based RRC Agency, went unanswered.
In typical Twitter fashion, memes and jokes comparing Vibra Urbana to the infamous Fyre Festival have continued to circulate, even if it's far too soon to begin making that association. As some Twitter users were quick to point out, most festivals start off small, just as Rolling Loud and Ultra began. With a confirmed venue, ticket sales now live on Ticketmaster, and notable partnerships, there's no reason to doubt this reggaeton festival will take place February 22. The question that remains is whether the festival will live up to the hype, both good and bad, it has created in a very short period of time.
Keep Miami New Times Free... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Miami with no paywalls.