Sold out crowds lined up around the corner of Lion Arts Factory on Saturday May 1, waiting to run to the front of the stage for Genesis Owusu. Upon walking into the venue on Saturday night, die-hard fans were of all ages. DJ LL cool Dre and rappers and musicians Agung Mango warmed up the crowd. Agung Mango’s rapping and complimentary saxophone and guitar tunes made this young duo’s show fun and engaging.
Then, silence and darkness blanketed Lion Arts as Genesis Owusu powerfully prowled onto the stage, with his new signature bandaged face. He slowly unwrapped his jacket, swaying to the first few intro songs, including Waitin’ on Ya. A banner carried on by the Goon Club read “BEWARE: BLACK DOGS” and then it began. Political commentary, artistic flare and beautifully composed music shined through Genesis Owusu’s entire performance, from the second he walked out. Metal fencing, white lights, glitter explosions, smoke and banners reading ‘Don’t Forget To Smile!’ created a harsh set design. Blood red and black costuming made for a stark and strikingly memorable experience. Making everything interactive, Genesis jumped into the crowd and partied in the electric mosh pit with us multiple times.
The debut album Smiling With No Teeth is sonically versatile and caters to every mood you’re in. Tracks from this album have their own story and came alive on Saturday night. The songs and lyrics seamlessly connect and similar ideas are shadowed throughout the album. Tracks like Bye Bye were hauntingly performed as Genesis sang ‘crawlin’ back to you’. Dance battles erupted amongst the audience, while Genesis and his balaclava-clad Goon Club stood stone-still, shaped as silhouettes on the stage as they performed I Don’t See Colour. As well as singing popular tracks from his debut album, Genesis also had fans dancing and collectively singing along with him to his well-known anthems Don’t Need You and 2018’s groovy Wit’ Da Team. Lighters and phone lights went into the blue air as we joined the Goon Club, swaying to Genesis’ live version of the chilled A Song About Fishing.
When standing alone and stripped back, Genesis Owusu’s vocals are velvety and sweet. His perfectly composed voice and relaxing reggae/electronic beats showcased in Centrefold (a personal highlight), was juxtaposed after this when his energy turned blunt and abrupt, performing Whip Cracker. Drill and hip hop vibes dominate Whip Cracker, from vivid, confronting and graphic lyrics to the emotionally raw tribal-like beats. This song and performance had the crowd in a trance as we danced to its addictive energy.
Genesis stopped mid-song as he helped security escort an injured fan outside, returning to us a while later announcing that the fan was safe and asking us to be safe and look after each other. His humanity, fun, chaos and magnetism united the crowd, making us all addicted to the theatrical, musically dynamic gig. Everyone screamed “ENCORE!” leaving Genesis Owusu and the Goon Club no choice but to come out and sing another bunch of songs to end the night. This included the explosive Black Dogs! where the Goon Club and Genesis’ primal screams at the song’s end, created the perfect goodbye. “Peace, I love you all!” Genesis shouted, as he gracefully walked away from screaming, applauding and adoring fans.
It’s unreal to think Genesis Owusu, the Australian artist born in Ghana, is only 23. His enigmatic and constantly gripping stage presence, smooth dance moves, refined vocals and talented rapping are just a few things that make him intriguing. It is exciting to think what he’ll create next. Try get a ticket to his next show; it’s chaotic, hot and unforgettable.
Live Review By Zara Zampaglione