Arts & Life

Omar Apollo dances his way into stardom in San Francisco

April 14, 2022, 8:10 p.m.

Former Frost Festival performer Omar Apollo energized the crowd at The Warfield on April 13 as a part of his “Desvelado” tour. Desvelado, which roughly translates to “sleepless” in English, aptly describes the energy that roared through the venue as fans waited for Apollo to take the stage.

Apollo began with “Talk,” the second song off of his newest album “Ivory.” He originally cited the album as the impetus for postponing the original tour dates. “I really wanted to play and this wasn’t an easy decision, but I need this time to finish my album. My new music is amazing, I’m putting my whole soul into it… I want to put on the best show possible for everybody and I need this time to do that,” he wrote on Twitter back in September.

It seemed that his decision paid off. Although Apollo released the album less than a week ago, fans in the venue managed to sing alongside Apollo without missing a word. Apollo’s setlist rotated through crowd favorites from “Apollonio”, including “Useless” and “Kamikaze,” the latter of which had the crowd jumping. These crowd favorite tracks set the stage for what Apollo considered his more experimental songs in “Ivory.”

“Is it okay if I play some of my new stuff?” asked Apollo. The crowd replied with enthusiastic cheers. Apollo performed “No Good Reason” with distorted vocals layered on top of a funky beat reminiscent of Beyoncé’s “Kitty Kat.” While Apollo’s stardom might not yet be on Beyoncé’s level, his dancing throughout was at least on par with that of her backup performers. His moves attracted cheers from the crowd. It became clear that his stage presence has continued to evolve and improve despite a hiatus from touring due to the pandemic. Every time Apollo would spin or kick his leg up to the beat of his music, the crowd lost it. 

Throughout his concert, Apollo embraced his heritage, making sure to shout out his family in the audience. As he switched between singing in English and Spanish, he played favorites like “Frio” and “Dos Uno Nueve.” “En El Olvido,” the newest of his Spanish songs, captured the traditional Mexican sounds Apollo grew up with and quickly became a crowd favorite. Fans began throwing props on stage, with Apollo eventually ending up with a sombrero on his head. As a Mexican flag made its way up to the stage, another followed soon after. It didn’t take long before Apollo was waving one of the flags across the stage.

Omar Apollo performing at The Warfield
When the LA Times first profiled Omar Apollo, they introduced him as the blue-haired, gender-rebellious, Mexican American Prince. He might not have blue hair anymore, but we’ve always known that he would blow up big time. (Photo: RICHARD COCA/The Stanford Daily)

One of Apollo’s greatest strengths as a rising artist has been his collaborations with Grammy-winning artists like Pharrell Williams and Kali Uchis. With Uchis’ vocals playing in the background, Apollo sang “Hey Boy” and “Bad Life,” in which he uses his falsetto to capture a beautiful type of longing.

As we neared the end of the concert, Apollo played one of his more intimate songs, “Mr. Neighbor,” leaning heavily on just his vocals and guitar. If it wasn’t clear before, this song made sure to showcase Apollo’s raw talent. For his final song, Apollo fittingly played “Go Away” and brought featured artist Ruel onstage to sing with him.

Apollo’s performance in San Francisco showed a young artist growing into his newfound stardom. He made sure to uplift fellow artist and opener Deb Never, whose birthday was that night. As the crowd sang happy birthday to Never, the two shared a sweet moment of camaraderie. Never’s songs like “Funky” and “Sweet and Spice” were the perfect openers for Apollo. Both songs captured the essence of sunlight and a spring day that has become characteristic of a lot of indie-pop.

Crowd at The Warfield
Wednesday night’s audience was always one sentence away from following whatever request an artist made. Attendees raised their phones at Deb Never’s request. (Photo: RICHARD COCA/The Stanford Daily)

Never was preceded by Tora-i, whose soulful music complimented Apollo’s. Both Never and Tora-i replaced Maye, who was originally going to open for the “Desvelado” tour. Tora-i was an excellent opener, sharing Apollo’s genre of alternative R&B singer-songwriters.

Tora-i performing at The Warfield
Tora-i’s set relied much heavier on blue, green, and cooler colors to light up the stage whereas Apollo seemed to enjoy shifting colors from blue to red to purple lighting. (Photo: RICHARD COCA/The Stanford Daily)

Apollo will continue to tour in the United States until late May, before beginning the international leg of his tour, with shows in London, Spain, Mexico and the Dominican Republic.

Omar Apollo performing at The Warfield
Apollo made sure to give everyone some love, walking around the stage to make every fan feel as if he were looking at them personally. (Photo: RICHARD COCA/The Stanford Daily)

Editor’s Note: This article is a review and includes subjective opinions, thoughts and critiques.

Richard Coca '22 has previously served as editor of The Grind for volume 258, managing editor of Satire in vol. 257, and CLIP Co-chair in vol. 255. He is majoring in Human Biology and minoring in Anthropology. Contact him at rcoca 'at' stanforddaily.com.

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