‘Invincible’ mystique: Omar Apollo enamors, entrances The Warfield

Photo of Omar Apollo
Arjin Unlu/Staff

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Leaning in an exhilarated hover over a sea of outstretched hands, Omar Apollo is radiant under floodlights. 

As captivating as he is already, Apollo is just getting started. The 24-year-old Mexican-American musician fields the contemporary music scene’s most alluring sounds, enameling psychedelic R&B with soul-grazing intimacy in his debut album Ivory. He’s traversed miles from his renowned beginnings, in which he borrowed $30 from a friend to upload “Ugotme” to Spotify.  With Ivory now debuting at No. 4 in the United States on the streaming platform, Apollo is riding a swift upward trajectory. 

The “Desvelado” tour is an ode to his rising success. Stopping in San Francisco’s The Warfield on April 13, Apollo’s performance encapsulated a kaleidoscopic experience. Strutting between polarities of dizzying fervor and poignant yearning, evocative strength bloomed in the artist’s resonant voice and swaying figure. 

The concert unfurled as London-based opener Tora-i materialized with dreamy elegance onstage, bathed in cobalt luster and the plumes of her reverie-inducing vocals. Elevating her ethereal set list with a seraphic croon, the artist’s atmospheric tone made stark juxtaposition against Deb Never, the show’s frenetic second opener. Silhouetted against frenzied strobes, Never’s spirited zeal adrenalized the freshly serenaded audience, oozing verve and relish with every swaggered step. 

Bated breaths inflated as a vociferous instrumental preamble careened into anticipated suspension, forecasting Apollo’s lively stride onto the stage. Bass-backed and treading with languid spirit through the effervescent beat of “Talk,” Apollo emanated charisma with his jaunty movements and spitfire voice. Slinging an ivory guitar over his shoulder, the musician’s galvanic duet alongside his lead guitarist seeped into the drawling chords of the falsetto-mantled “Useless,” bracketing airy vocals with charged vulnerability. 

Apollo swapped electric guitar for the helical acoustic twanging of “Dos Uno Nueve (219),” draping the flag of Mexico on his mic stand in cultural tribute. With a fan-presented black vaquero sombrero on his head, the lilting cadence of Apollo’s voice merged with the frayed lattice of guitar as he sang in Spanish, washed crimson in the spotlight. 

With the rhythmic haze of “Frìo,” Apollo let loose: Breaking into dance with fluid gyrations, pulsating heel taps and the occasional twirl, he navigated the metrical beat with mesmerizing allure and an arch smile.

“I’ve been singing a lot lately, so y’all gonna have to help me,” coaxed a smiling Apollo ahead of the crowd-pleasing “Evergreen.” The magnetic artist maintained synergy with his audience: Like the intertwining harmonies of his discography, the symbiotic fusion between musician and listeners felt unseverable. Sportive laughs and playful interjections forged Apollo’s presence with an endearing intimacy, grounding his burgeoning celebrity in mirth.

The soaring, clarion belts of “Petrified” had Apollo baring soul and chest as he slipped into the stripped, breathy prelude to his eclectic lead single “Invincible.” Apollo evinced enviable talent in his voice’s unadulterated range, which harbors both sky-skimming and tear-jerking capabilities — a gift he uses to craft versatility in his music. 

As the penultimate riffs of “Want U Around” introduced surprise guest Ruel from backstage, the two artists traded ardent devotion with their intermingling voices. Not long after, Apollo dispensed the lyrics of his postlude like a terminal oath: “I just don’t see you enough / I wish I saw you enough,” he sang, auguring the concert’s bittersweet end. Yet, Apollo opted toward the saccharine over the acerbic, whooping jubilantly to the scintillating music in an affectionate farewell. 

Though few coveted souvenirs were jettisoned into the crowd, — an affectionately mangled set list and twin halves of a drumstick pair — all departures were bestowed with the light-glazed memory of Apollo’s mesmerizing charm, inextinguishable even by the night’s gelid San Francisco drizzle. The air was promise-laden as the event reeled in technicolor playback, starting again cyclically with the lyrics of “Talk”: “I’ll see you again someday,” vowed Apollo, his assured smile immortalized in blue-washed remembrance. 

Contact Esther Huang at [email protected].