Mexican pop group RBD, which scored five top 10 hits on the Hot Latin Songs chart in the early 2000s, played its last show in 2008, during which the group announced it was breaking up. Its members – Anahí, Dulce María, Christian Chavez, Maite Perroni and Christopher von Uckermann – have not stepped on stage together since. Yet when RBD recently announced it was reuniting for more than 40 shows in arenas and stadiums around the world, called the Soy Rebelde Tour, more than 1.5 million tickets were sold in just 24 hours, according to RBD manager Guillermo Rosas.
RBD is the latest in a string of Latin reunion tours that have raised millions of dollars. The trend started in 2020 when the bachata supergroup Aventura reunited after 10 years for their Inmortal Tour. Its first installment grossed $24 million after 14 shows, according to Billboard Boxscore. And in 2021, the iconic Mexican from the 80s groupiro the band Los Bukis reunited after 25 years for their own stadium; the nine-date stint entered at number 6 on billboardTop tours of 2021 grossing nearly $50 million.
“What makes these nostalgic touring concepts powerful is that they’re multi-generational,” says Hans Schafer, senior vice president of global touring at Live Nation, the promoter behind RBD’s upcoming journey. In 2006, RBD — conceptualized from the Mexican telenovela Rebel — had the No. 1 Latin tour, grossing nearly $31 million from 51 shows. “Music is passed down through generations and lives on. Now we see more artists interested and excited to tap into fans’ nostalgia.”
But, as Rosas points out, it’s also risky given the uncertainty of booking acts who haven’t toured in decades and don’t have massive streaming numbers. “Just because you have 50 million listeners doesn’t mean you’re going to sell 1.5 million tickets at the box office,” he says. “It takes a lot more than streams to become part of the culture. As managers and promoters, you learn how to cross these bridges and not walk blindly based on the numbers.
When Adolfo Romero, vice president of programming for SoFi Stadium, Hollywood Park and YouTube Theater, booked Los Bukis for their back-to-back shows at SoFi, it never occurred to him that a nostalgic performance wouldn’t be able to sell more than 70,000 tickets. “I’m from [major league] football. If we can sell over 70,000 for football here, what difference does it make?” he said previously billboard. “It’s the same demographic. We have disposable income. A large part of our community worked in the service sector. Now many of their children have graduated from college.”
Los Angeles’ Bésame Mucho (like the nostalgia-fueled When We Were Young festival) kick-off event last year sold out in 12 minutes when the 2000s-inspired line-up – which included Juanes, Hombres G and Los Tigres Del Norte – was announced. In December, Los Bukis will headline the second edition of the fest.
“We only focused on what the fans wanted to see, not what was playing on the radio,” says John Frias, producer of Bésame Mucho and president of Frias Entertainment. “Many people brought their parents to the festival. It was crushing.”
Frías hesitates to call these shows simply “nostalgia” tours, as they don’t only appeal to the older generation of fans. There is a new generation that is discovering and embracing these groups as well. “In this day and age, fans won’t just be subjected to today’s music. They liked yesterday’s music and they like today’s music”, he is categorical.
Musical discovery may be a major contributing factor to RBD’s massive success on the touring front. In September 2020, RBD’s catalog became available for the first time on digital streaming platforms, including Spotify. “Context is so important to data,” Shafer says. “You have to understand where things are coming from. And tours like these, they’re an emotional response to something that was lived years ago and now you can inspire and remind people of those moments.”
A version of this story will appear in the April 1, 2023, issue Billboard.