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Voices: A Night with Aventura, the 'Kings of Bachata'

by Victoria Moll-Ramírez /
Members of the music group Aventura, (L-R) Lenny Santos, Anthony 'Romeo' Santos, Henry Santos Jeter, and Max Santos.Victoria Moll-Ramíreznull

NEW YORK -- It was a night full of nostalgia, wailing women, romantic men and the scent of empanadas and papas rellenas being sold greeting you the moment you walked in--Aventura was officially back together in concert.

The over three-thousand person venue located in the heart of Washington Heights, the neighborhood where the group started, was packed on Saturday, Feb. 20, for all to see the self-proclaimed “Kings of Bachata” perform again after breaking up back in 2011.

Members of the music group Aventura, (L-R) Lenny Santos, Anthony 'Romeo' Santos, Henry Santos Jeter, and Max Santos.Victoria Moll-Ramíreznull

Dominican salsa singer Alex Matos was the opening act and got the crowd moving as many sipped out of their Gasolina (a Puerto Rican alcoholic drink) pouches. Then, the lights dimmed and a montage of everyone’s “grupo favorito” played.

Four silhouettes with a spotlight appeared and bachata’s favorite - and greatest - boy band opened with 'El Desprecio.' It almost felt as an ode to fans who may have felt betrayed by the group’s separation.

Lead singer Romeo Santos had a mic stand with the name “Aventura” largely written on it. Singer Henry Santos stood to Romeo’s left, guitarist Lenny Santos to his right and bassist Max Santos to his far left. It was as if five years had never passed and no one had ventured off to have a solo career. It was like running into an old friend and just picking up right where you left off.

Anthony 'Romeo' Santos.Victoria Moll-Ramíreznull

During the two-hour bilingual concert Romeo would take breaks in between songs to engage the audience, and wisely remind the men in the room that women always win. He reminisced about Aventura’s early days when they would pay for their own demos and worked security. Romeo even laughed at himself when he reminded the audience he used to weigh about ninety pounds.

All the favorites were played, from 'Por un Segundo', to 'Los Infieles' and 'Romeo y Julieta.' During intermission Henry entertained the crowd and sang while his bandmates had a wardrobe change. When Romeo returned he continued to entertain but at no point sang one of his own singles. This was an Aventura concert, not a Romeo Santos concert, and he made sure to keep it that way.

The synergy that exists with the members is captivating. Lenny is masterful on the guitar, Max is flawless on the bass and the passion they emoted with every song and every chord was felt throughout the theater. Romeo would seamlessly run from one end of the stage to the other and was visibly savoring the moment. Then, right when you thought it was over, they came back and closed out with the song that catapulted them to fame, 'Obsesión.'

Lenny Santos and Max Santos.Victoria Moll-Ramíreznull

The crowd consisted of people young and old, single girlfriends, same-sex and heterosexual couples. Each person happily sang along to songs about heartbreak, betrayal and love.

Aventura makes you happy to be sad - and it’s an addicting feeling. These four men turned a traditional Dominican genre, revamped it, added English lyrics to it and brought it to the world. Romeo Santos proudly likes to tout, “We broke the rules.” They did, and we’re thankful for it.

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