Norfolk, VA – There were long lines of people from all walks of life waiting for the doors to open so the Black Friday celebration could begin. No, these were not self-proclaimed sale warriors ready to put two years of intensive training to the test, waging battle in the aisles to get the 2021 equivalent of the Furby (remember those? I don’t.); these were an embattled Jinjer army awaiting the return of the band to the NorVA stage in Norfolk, VA on November 26th, 2021. Having been decimated by the COVID cancellation of their NorVA stop in May of 2020, fans were ready for their return and Black Friday provided the perfect backdrop for an early Christmas gift!
As fate would have it, COVID did put a damper on the night to a degree. One of the supporting bands, Suicide Silence, had a member of the tour test positive and, as a precaution, chose to sit out a few shows to minimize risk to the audience and the tour. Their presence was greatly missed.
All Hail the Yeti from Los Angeles kicked off the night with a great set. Opening with “Suicide Woods“, the head banging had begun. Lead vocalist, Connor Garritty, with Nicholas Diltz (bass), Ryan “Junior” Kittlitz (drums), and Dave Vanderlinde (guitar) screamed a plethora of songs including “Headless Valley“, “Bury Your Memory“, and “After the Great Fire“, much to the delight of the audience. Closing with “Mr. Murder” the stage was cleared and we waited.
All Hail the Yeti Photo Gallery
Drummer Vladislav (Vlad) Ulasevich took the stage first to the joyous roar of the Black Friday crowd. Not far behind were bassist Eugene Abdukhanov and guitarist Roman Ibramkhalilov, setting the stage for the entrance of Tatiana Shmayluk. Known for her hair-parting growls and hypnotic melodies, Tatiana killed it as the band opened with “Call Me a Symbol” from their new album, Wallflower. The show was off to a great start. While most in attendance were aware of her immense ability to change vocal style on a dime, experiencing it live was much more impressive.
After ‘Symbol’, we were lured in by the seductive sounding lead-in to “On the Top” followed by, “Pit of Consciousness“, both from their 2019 album, Macro. Not having seen them perform live before, I was taken aback by how this show was so well orchestrated. Instrumentals, vocals, and ever changing lights made for a high energy performance with a hint of aggressive yet sometimes docile contradiction.
With surgical precision, the band backed Tatiana as she wove a tapestry of powerful emotion with “I Speak Astronomy“, “Disclosure“, and their epitome of musical fusion (metalcore, reggae, with a twist of jazz), “Judgement (& Punishment)“. With a loud “Booyah!”, it was obvious the audience was eating out of the palm of their hand!
After a few more songs, they performed another interesting piece, “Retrospection“. A mix of Ukrainian and English, beauty and angst, this is a true work of art. Leading in with melodic Ukrainian language lyrics, only to blasted with powerful English bringing to light the love of parents who gave all to raise and care for us even though we do not outwardly show gratitude for their lifelong sacrifices. Needless to say, this is considered one of their more personal songs.
Like many, I was introduced to Jinjer through YouTube reaction videos. Their next two songs have been staples of such videos for some time and they themselves were worth the full price of admission. “Perennial” and “Teacher, Teacher” were next on the slate to the immense pleasure of the Black Friday crowd. Teacher again shows the versatility of the Jinjer genre as it is a combination that includes a little rap hip hop sound with a lot of power metal thrown in for good measure. As Teacher was coming to a close, Tatiana yelled, “Are you still here?” All hands went into the air, clapping to the beat until the very end.
For ‘all the introverts out there’ they transitioned into the title track from their new album, Wallflower. This is another personal song, depicting the buildup of emotion that results when finding energy within and having a hard time releasing it.
As the night wound down, they played, “As I Boil Ice“, “Mediator“, and “Colossus“. Highlighting the Jinjer contrast theme, “Mediator” is a deep dive into how we expect life to look compared to how the world really ends up. Wrapping it up with “Colossus“, which appears to bring to light (and music) another contradiction between how we perceive ourselves and the battle we wage with those who try to tear us down. Powerful is an understatement.
Finishing to a standing ovation they again appealed for audience support of Suicide Silence. As the audience continued to bang their heads and chant, “One more song, one more song” they came out and treated us to “Vortex“. Of the evening’s songs, this was probably the most balanced, with Tatiana’s mesmerizing vocals soothing the mind only to be awoken with insanely powerful growls. It was a wonderful way to conclude the performance.
As I left the venue, I couldn’t help but think, if traditions are to bring people together and create memories, a Black Friday Jinjer performance has ‘new tradition’ written all over it. One thing for sure, memories of Black Friday lines and ‘great deals’ on 2021’s new gadgets were already fading. Based on the excitement in the voices of the departing patrons, this night was going to be the subject of Black Friday fireside folklore for metal families for years to come. No matter how you say it – Це було до біса чудове шоу. Почнемо нову традицію.
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Call Me a Symbol
On the Top
Pit of Consciousness
I Speak Astronomy
Judgement (& Punishment)
Sleep of the Righteous
As I Boil Ice
Show Date: November 26th, 2021
Want to see more? Check out the title track from Wallflower.