Live Review: Bad Omens / Ghostkid / Oxymorrons – O2 Ritz, Manchester 01.03.2023

Bryan Kirks

By Sian Connolly

So tonight we’re talking about the band everyone is talking about… current TikTok sensations, Bad Omens. Now, if you knew the guys before they went viral overnight, you’d know it was bound to happen. From only 800 thousand monthly listeners on Spotify just over a year ago to 3 million listeners today… there’s no arguing with these numbers to know that this is the band to be listening to. 

After three years away, the American metalcore band made their big return to the UK with complete sellout shows in 8 cities. When they made the announcement last year, the quartet were prepared to play in the more smaller venues – ie the Key Club in Leeds and if you’re from Leeds, you know how small that venue is! But due to the incredibly high demand, most venues ended up being upgraded to accommodate the anticipated crowds! (the power of TikTok, am I right?)

When the long-awaited night finally arrived, I couldn’t control the excitement! I hopped on the train to Manchester and made my way to the o2 Ritz. It was about 6 pm this Tuesday evening and the line was forming, quickly. I hurried into the queue and eagerly waited for the doors to open. About an hour passed and I was in, ready and waiting for the support bands to take to the stage. 

First up, we have hip hop rock band from Queens, NY, Oxymorrons. Consisting of brothers Demi and Kami Bellevue on the vocals, Matty Mayz on the drums and the incredible Jafe Paulino on the guitar, these guys certainly know how to put on a show. I’ve never heard music like it before, there was a bit of rap, a bit of rock and then… a bit of screaming! The genre-blending masterminds use their musical talents and online platforms to voice their passion for embracing individuality and speaking to and for the ones rejected by society. The way the band can connect with the crowd is truly awesome with their non-stop energy left the audience entranced. They kicked off the night with tracks such as “Intro” and “Think Big” also throwing in hit singles “Enemy”, “Definition” and “Justice”. Plus, let’s not forget to mention that as soon as their epic set had finished, each member of the band came down to the barriers and took the time to speak to as many people in the crowd as possible. I even got to have a chat with guitarist Paulino, an awesome dude by the way! Out of all the gigs I’ve been to, I’ve never seen the band do that, truly a memorable, intimate experience. 

Next to take the stage is German post-hardcore punk, GHØSTKID. Formed in 2020, the year we all know as “covid year”, their music is packed with mosh pit-ready riffs with the band diving straight into it with their first song “FØØL”. A superb start to their set as lead vocalist, Sebastian Biesler, shows off his highly impressive skills, smoothly combining rap with screams and amazingly clean vocals. It didn’t take long for the pits to form, but this wasn’t just some ordinary pit with some ordinary people… both the bassist and guitarist jumped off the stage and plunged themselves straight into the pit STILL with guitars in hand. Amazing. The set continues with more of their hits, “START A FIGHT”, “HOLLYWOOD SUICIDE” and “THIS IS NOT HOLLYWOOD” then finally finishing off the night with their most played song “SUPERNØVA”. Throughout their set, you can definitely see the musical influences from the likes of Marylin Manson and Bring Me The Horizon all blended perfectly with the intense worlds of hyper-pop and industrial. 

Now, this is the moment we have all been waiting for, the room buzzing with energy as the crowd began pushing closer towards the front with everyone packed in like sardines, all sweaty and huddled together. As the venue went dark, the o2 Ritz echoed with the screams and cheers of the crowd hopelessly waiting for the band to take the stage. And here they are… Bad Omens.

The American rock band formed back in 2015, are finally getting the crowds they deserve. This wasn’t just a regular concert, this show was a performance; a work of art. The spotlights beamed up onto the ceiling, creating an amazing kaleidoscope effect with the bright red lights illuminating the stage. The anticipation dramatically began building as the man, the myth, the legend, Noah Sebastian walks out onto the stage. The crowd went wild.

Opening up with “Concrete Jungle”, there wasn’t a single person out there standing still or not singing along and having fun. From headbangers to moshers to crowd surfers, this was definitely going to be a night to remember. For the second song of their set, “Artificial Suicide”, Sebastian returns to the stage wearing his iconic balaclava and black trench coat, truly a quintessential part of his performance.

Huge screens scattered the stage, playing hypnotic visuals corresponding to each song on their setlist; flames for “Concrete Jungle” and tv static for “Artificial Suicide”, giving us the immersive experience of a lifetime. Their choice of songs made a beautiful masterpiece, played by phenomenal musicians – Joakim Karlsson and Nicholas Ruffilo on guitar with Nick Folio on the drums.

They played us songs from their 2019 album, “Finding God Before God Finds Me” and hits from their newest, most popular release, “THE DEATH OF PEACE OF MIND”. Commanding the entire room effortlessly, Noah is a true leading frontman and holds confidence like no other. If this man asks for a wall of death, you give him a wall of death. If a circle pit is demanded, a circle pit he shall receive. Not to mention, the rest of the band are just as impressive, their talent leaving us watching in awe.

As their set came to an end, we were blessed with a newfound fan favourite, “Just Pretend”. The band disappeared off the stage as the crowd begged for an encore and boy, what an encore we got. An elite trilogy of songs; “THE DEATH OF PEACE OF MIND”, “Dethrone” and “What do you want from me?”  For me, my night was officially complete after finally hearing “Dethrone” live. With it being one of my top songs of all time, I could not wait to experience it live and it went way beyond my expectations. 

Ultimately, one of the best gigs I’ve ever been to and I will no doubt be ready and waiting on Ticketmaster for their much-wanted return back to the UK. 

Photos by Bryan Kirks

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