Genesis Owusu @ Le Studio TD

How do you one-up yourself after a theatrical live debut, a sold-out orchestral show in Sydney, and an opening slot for Paramore? If you’re Genesis Owusu, you don’t. You reset, you go back to basics, proving your talent in a singular vision only an artist of your calibre can provide. On October 18, Montreal had the privilege of catching the genre-defying artist live on the STRUGGLER tour, supporting his acclaimed sophomore album of the same name. 

When walking into Le Studio TD, I found myself greeted by loud noises spilling out from beyond the doors, which turned out to be the opening act Godly The Ruler, who was giving it their all. Supported by a simple backing band (a single guitarist and drummer), the experimental rocker’s passion was palpable. Heavy electronic beats filled the space along with a receptive crowd cheering them on throughout. Perhaps their performance could be summarised by how it ended: a thanks to the crowd with distortion overtaking the vocals, sincerity coming through the noise. 

It didn't take long for Genesis Owusu to take to the stage, starting his set with STRUGGLER’s lead single “Leaving The Light.” Right before the explosive chorus, he took off the front cover of a large rectangular prism, revealing three pairs of vertical light panels with a projector on top behind glass. The pulsating strobe lights matched his commanding vocals on display as he yelled about a roach trying to escape from god (the main story of STRUGGLER). In previous tours, Owusu performed with The Goons, mutuals of his that punctuated his shows with energy, not by playing instruments but simply wilding out alongside him. Now he is on his own, forcing the audience to stare front and center. If anyone thought this show was going to be anything except for a raw display of talent, they were immediately proven wrong 

The heavy bangers in his discography such as “Stay Blessed” allowed for intense moments of authority, keeping the audience locked in as he belted out lyrics and struck poses. Balancing out the tracklist was an equal amount of slow tunes, such as “Waitin’ On Ya.” In these slower moments, Owusu could relax his energy and focus on delivering some impressively sweet melodies. Between groups of songs, pre-recorded narration acted as a replacement for the usual concert chit-chat, increasing the thematics of the show. I found it challenging to dissect what each section was talking about, but the commitment to keeping the flow maintained was appreciated. Owusu also enjoyed toying with the crowd, sprinkling a dose of fun throughout the show that kept the audience engaged. 

Genesis Owusu had the odds stacked against him. A purely solo show with no backing band and only minimal use of visuals needs a truly standout star to bring it all together. Going into the concert, I have to admit I had my doubts that he would be able to pull it off. But not only did the STRUGGLER tour prove Genesis Owusu’s music as modern classics in the making, but cemented Genesis Owusu himself as a star; one capable of tackling the momentous task of having a solo show go toe to toe with an orchestrated performance. Never have I felt so comfortable betting on a roach in a fight with god.