Review: Omar Apollo's Spirit Burns Bright in 'Desvelado' Tour

by Christopher Ehlers

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Sunday May 15, 2022

Review: Omar Apollo's Spirit Burns Bright in 'Desvelado' Tour
  (Source:Omar Apollo)

When it comes to up-and-coming artists, no musician is on the tip of my tongue quite like Omar Apollo is. I first discovered Apollo the fall of 2020 — that long, post-lockdown fall — just after he released his deliriously good mixtape, "Apolonio." Honestly, it was probably the album cover that first caught my attention: A nude, blue-haired Apollo submerged in purple liquid holding an electric guitar. But it was ultimately his genre-defying music — replete with mind-blowing vocals and explicitly gay lyrics — that made me say, "Hold on, who is this kid?!"

It turns out his name is Omar Apollo — born Omar Apolonio Velasco — an Indiana-born Mexican American singer who had already released two EPs, toured internationally, and performed at both SXSW and Lollapalooza by the time "Apolonio" was released and I discovered him for myself. Just one month ago, he released his debut album, "Ivory," and a week after that performed at Coachella. Now — lucky us — Apollo has embarked on his massive 32-date "Desvelado" tour, which will finish May 31 in Mexico City before a three-date stint in Europe.

It isn't only that his music defies categorization, it's that Apollo himself seems like so many things all at once that you can't help but take notice. He's a resolutely singular and original artist, one whose musicianship is rivaled only by his allure. Singing in both English and Spanish, his music covers a lot of ground: R&B, indie pop, trap, brown eyed soul, or, as he once described to the LA Times, "some rock shit with a little soul." And not for nothing, but he's one hell of a performer.

At a recent concert in Boston, each dance step or spin across the stage elicited Beatlemania-like screams from his ecstatic fans, especially the ladies. That Apollo can sing about loving and fucking men while still drawing hordes of screaming women to his concerts is a rare feat indeed, one that speaks to both how far the music industry has evolved and how younger generations really don't get bogged down in something like sexuality. We are seeing a page turn in the music industry, and Apollo is a part of that.

Lyrically, Apollo covers similar ground in a number of his songs — excitement over new love, fear of not being loved back, not knowing what to make of new feelings, sadness — but each song is of a completely different musical style, which is part of what makes watching him so enthralling. Apollo turned on the charisma for "Killing Me," a song he rightly described as a "sexy ass song," and his swag was in full force during "No Good Reason," a song that finds him frustrated over a guy who isn't being forthcoming enough about his emotions. Apollo mines similar frustration in "Waiting On You," a softly sung, hazy pop song, about his "handsome and tall" baby that, for whatever reason, isn't giving him what he needs.

"We gotta give them the real Mexican shit," Apollo said before launching into "En El Olvido" and "Dos Uno Nueve," both major highlights. He and his band even opened up some Tecate beer on stage, jokingly admitting that normally he's more of "a Modelo girl."

In "Evergreen," a pain-drenched ballad that finds Apollo bleeding after a relationship, we heard him at his most wrenching and vulnerable, as we did the heart-stopping "Petrified," where he doesn't know quite what to make of his new love except for the fact that it's consuming more of him each day. His vocals were ultra-impressive in "Bad Life," a song in which Apollo used the break in his voice to illustrate about a hundred different degrees of pain; and a rambunctious encore of "Tamagotchi" was a particular joy, complete with confetti canons and Apollo coming just shy of surfing the crowd.

In a review of his most recent album, "Ivory," Apple Music wrote that "Omar Apollo seems all but destined for global stardom." I might have agreed with that as a general statement before, but after seeing him perform live, I'm convinced of it. With his Hollywood good looks, his magnetic swag, and his sheer talent, Apollo is, in many ways, an unconventional sex symbol whose chief allure just might be his voraciously burning free spirit. He's the kind of artist that the rest of the world might need time to catch up to. But for those of us already at the party, es el major lugar donde puedes estar.