On March 13th, SZA was the talk of the town. From houses hanging signs in their windows welcoming her, to the bright Viejas Arena sign, you could tell San Diego was excited to welcome her for the night. Lines that started from the entrance made their way all the way to the nearby streets.

Before SZA took the stage, Omar Apollo opened for her. At 8:00 sharp, not a minute late, the lights in the arena went dark, while thousands of fans screamed. Orange bright lights slowly lit the stage as Apollo started the concert with his song “Useless.” Each song that Omar Apollo performed had its own color to light the stage, for example, his song “Invincible” stayed to a neutral black and white, while “Want U around,” kept to its melancholic, ethereal vibes with bright blue lighting. In every song that he performed, he gave San Diego his all, dancing in between instrumental breaks, showing off his incredible range, and thanking fans who sang every lyric with him. When he announced that he only had time for two more songs, sadness quickly changed to excitement when the crowd favorite: “Evergreen (You Didn’t Deserve Me At All)”

 began to play. The beginning of the song was overswept by the cheers of the crowd, and of course, the stage was overswept with bright green lighting. He finished his set with “Go Away,” smacking the drum symbols with his hands as the song ended, and thanked San Diego as the lights went dark.

The fans could barely contain their excitement in between the sets, dancing to songs such as “WAP” by Cardi B, and “Best Friend” by Saweetie and Doja Cat. The closer it came, the more evident it was that this was a sold-out show as every seat in the stadium was getting taken. Finally, the lights went dark. For a full minute, the stage seemed to be empty and all that could be heard were screams and chants. Suddenly, stunning visuals of dark clouds and waves appeared, and screens rose to the intro of “PSA,” revealing SZA to be sitting on the diving board that is seen on the cover of her newest album. 

Transitions between every song were executed perfectly, the screens showed movie-like visuals that made this concert feel more like a story than a performance.

From a diving board to a boat dock, the sets were able to change smoothly without taking you out of the emersion of the concert, performing popular songs such as “Seek & Destroy” and “Love Galore.” Every song was well-choreographed as SZA had a team of dancers, hyping her up as well as she sang or giving the impression in some songs that she controlled them. As the set changed from a dock to what seemed to be an underground lair, she performed a cover of Erykah Badu’s “Bag Lady,” with visuals of red flashing S.O.S. lights, staying true to the theme of her most recent album. 

As every song passed, SZA continued to leap beyond expectations. From turning the entire set into a large boat, to then sailing over the crowd in a liferaft, you never knew what was gonna happen next. A crowd favorite was her performance of “Kill Bill,” where she appeared on the stage with a mace. Stunning background visuals of the dancers getting defeated as the crowd screamed and sang every word. She ended her concert, returning to the diving board, with a heartstopping performance of “Good Days,” as the screens around her projected space and sparkling stars. The words The End were written in the stars as the lights faded into darkness.

Photos by Jennifer Perez.

Claiming Cal Coast: Omar Apollo

Stopping in San Diego for his third show of “The Prototype Tour,” Omar Apollo (Omar Apolonio) takes the stage at Cal Coast Open Air Theater.

Beginning his musical career on SoundCloud, Omar Apollo has since remained in the music industry for seven years. During the span of these seven years, Apollo has released five albums, and tonight, performed at least one song off each album. The stage design, the assisting band, and the fans created an unforgettable experience throughout the night. 

Having some free time before the show, Apollo was spotted throughout San Diego State University. Fans caught him playing football, and those who were lucky enough were able to get a photo with the musician. After activities settled down, fans gathered throughout the venue and settled in their seats to witness opener Rayvn Lenae.

Entering the stage at 9:00 PM, Apollo was dressed in black from head to toe with matching sheer black gloves. Omar Apollo kicked off his set with a song specifically from his newest album, “Ivory”. Fans immediately erupted into screams and pulled out their cell phones to capture the moment. Apollo grabbed his guitar and strummed the tune to his song “Useless”. Apollo has voiced his love for his fans throughout his concert, and during tonight’s show, sung in both English and Spanish. Throughout his concert he switched languages to perform some of his popular Spanish songs; “En El Olvido,” “Dos Uno Nueve,” and “Frío”. 

Working his way through his expansive discography, Omar Apollo did not shy away from performing songs that contained features not present at the venue. A few songs of Apollo’s contain features from artists such as Kali Uchis, Ruel, and Daniel Caesar; however, their verses were performed by Apollo and a unique spin was added to highlight his vocals. 

There was no consistent flow to the show, Apollo kept his fans on their toes. The show would go from soft love songs to sped up rock, fluctuating moods throughout the show. Couples could be seen swaying to “Petrified,” then jumping to “Tamagotchi” a few moments later. Apollo has very passionate fans singing every word to his songs; they even caught his attention at the beginning of the show.  

I have been a fan of Omar Apollo’s work for quite some time, and it was an amazing experience to see him live. He is eagerly excited to share his music in a live performance rather than just streaming services. Seeing fans gather and hearing them scream to his music creates a whole different experience and gives life to Apollo’s music. On behalf of LiveNation and KCR College Radio, I am ecstatic to have had an opportunity to cover Omar Apollo at the Cal Coast Open Air Theater.