11.8.22 Omar ApolloNov 15, 2022
A November Tuesday in the Twin Cities is not always pleasant, nor memorable -this last one however demands exceptions to be made. Daylight savings meant that the marquee lights of the Palace Theater could be admired in their full glory, casting the long queues of admirers in a warm glow despite the 6pm doors.
Now, it’s going to take some exceptional artists to motivate fans to come out on a Tuesday night, and let’s be honest, the odds were stacked. Not only was it a weeknight concert, but we’re hitting seasonal depression o’clock, the sky couldn’t decide if it wanted to rain or not, and downtown St. Paul was bustling with the typical construction of midwest crews attempting to finish the last of the season’s work before the winter fully hits. But yet...the venue was packed by the time the start of the show rolled around.
That’s the magic of Omar Apollo however. A breakout music star, the young musician has been serenading his way into the hearts of fans across the globe. He moves with the grace of a dancer between genres and sounds creating his own unique style that sticks around long after he’s left the stage. Together with his brilliantly selected opener Ravyn Lenae, the two created an atmosphere of warmth that pulled the crowd in closer for a memorable evening.
Head to toe, Ravyn Lenae has every marking of an artist who is only destined to keep getting bigger. At 23 she’s already worked with artists like Steve Lacy, Smino, No Name and KAYTRANADA, and throughout the duration of her set, it was pretty easy to see how she’s gained so much traction. From the way she sauntered on stage in knee high black heels and a sculpted pink mini dress, to her playful audience engagement, to the manner in which her warm vocals worked through the crowd -everything about Ravyn spoke to an innate glow and talent.
Her notes tumbled and floated through the air, acrobatic in nature, spotted by an incredible band who provided a grounding element as the audience watched in awe. Ravyn was one of those rare openers who brings the energy, grace and stage presence of a headlining act, and if I were to bet, I’d say it’s only a matter of time before that becomes a reality. She left the stage with poise and the band with the chance to give the audience one last gift of a jam session.
The Palace inhaled and exhaled as an entity between sets -warmed up and excited, shoulders were pressed together and the anticipation palpable. You could hear Omar Apollo before you see him, waves of cheers rippling throughout the crowd as people clamored to get even closer to the stage. Everyone needed a view of Apollo, and could you blame them?
Dressed in a dark blue two piece set and adorned in shades, Omar Apollo walked out of the wings, exuding the confidence of a seasoned star. The opening notes of Killing Me sent the crowd into another frenzy as he got comfortable on stage, verses slipping between English and Spanish. Widely adored for his bilingual lyricism, Apollo’s songwriting is another aspect of hisartistry that has set him apart from a lot of the other popular musicians of our time. With several songs including heavy Mexican guitar influence such as En El Olvido and Dos Uno Nueve (219), he further displayed his phenomenal ability to combine genres and sounds with ease. While much of the crowd was able to sing along for the full duration of his set, Apollo wasn’t afraid to tease his non-spanish speaking fans about their lack of comprehension.
From his more upbeat dance songs like Frío and Tamagotchi to his love ballads such as Bad Life and Want U Around, one thing was clear: it was a night for lovers, and those yearning for love. A cherished queer artist, Omar’s fluidity was tranfused throughout his music as he spun across the stage, singing of deep loves, aching heartbreaks and everything in between -the audience hanging onto every word. One can’t help but admire an artist who places their heart on public display, and Apollo, through his intense show of emotion, reminded the audience how powerful love can be. As he threw his arms out, chest to the sky, it couldn’t help but make one reminisce on all the times they too have been completely consumed by love.
Between songs Omar Apollo conversed comfortably with the crowd, shooting teasing remarks and occasionally entertained the fans who shouted in his direction. About halfway through his set, Apollo joined the band and picked up his guitar to add an extra layer of electricity and personality to the performance. A clear rising star, Omar Apollo showed with every song that not only is he here to stay, but also that he won’t be going anywhere but up. Unforgettable vocals, incredible stage presence, and a natural charisma that can’t be faked, by the end of the night the audience was roaring for an encore.
The final notes of the last song were met with an air of bittersweet, rising lights breaking the spell that Apollo had cast over the Palace Theater. The lingering warmth remained however as the crowd slowly made their way out, hooks stuck in heads and love on the brain.
By Cat Grimm