In September 2020, Jinjer were on their short ‘Social Distancing’ Macro Tour…
Can that work? I mean, we’re speaking of Jinjer! They turn each venue into a venue-wide mosh pit within 30 seconds of their first song! Sweat mixing, people running into each other, sharing their beer and aerosols willingly or not and leaving not a square centimetre of space for standing still at any distance from anybody. But perhaps it’s a band like Jinjer that we need to help us learn how to fit extreme metal shows into our pandemic-induced socially distanced lives?
Hungry For Shows
For approximately half a year nearly all events were cancelled or postponed and often re-postponed. Audience and musicians were put on a strict, no-live-show diet. The festival season was reduced to online-streams of several formats. There can be no doubt that these streams were better than no concerts at all. But nothing can compare to a show in front of a present audience.
Eugene Abdukhanov, bass player and spokesman for Jinjer posted:
„Bro’s & Sisters! First of all – THANK YOU for supporting these upcoming shows in September, we cannot tell you how excited we are to play for you! MUNICH IS NOW SOLD OUT! Due to the huge demand for tickets there we’ve added a 2nd show! We’ve also added a new show in Speyer, Germany! There will not be any upgrades for these shows so once tickets are gone – THEY ARE GONE! See you soon! JINJER”
Can you smell his hunger for the stage? Can you feel his eagerness to run his fingertips over the strings of his bass guitar? And can you feel his connection to their fans?
But what was it like to get all these shows arranged in this demanding setting? …
Once Upon A Sunny Summer Sunday
It is a late summer afternoon, the sun is shining, the weather is warm and dry. None of this hints that autumn will soon come knocking on the door.
However, what is knocking on the door are the very first concerts after the long period of closed venues, lockdowns and cancellations.
One band is knocking even harder on my door. It is Jinjer, the sensational four-piece combo from Ukraine. I won’t lose many words about them. People who read the English articles on Obscuro already know that most of us are among their biggest and longest lasting fans.
So Here We Are
I’m going to enjoy their open air gig at Speyer, Halle 101 Musikkulturzentrum along with Dust In Mind and Ghost Iris as support.
Naturally I’m curious, how social distancing will work out at a Jinjer concert of all places. We all know how these usually turn out. They are most exhausting for both, band and crowd. The usual results are a gallon of sweat, a couple of bruises well distributed and earned all over your body and of course, a lost voice the day after. Basically a show by Jinjer is nothing but an endless mosh pit bigger than the actual venue.
Survive it or stay at home. Nothing in between is possible.
Let’s Wait And See!
After a long week, busy with – my real – work, there’s still that late summer feeling and the hunger for a live show. It’s Sunday afternoon and I’m on my way to the venue in Speyer. Its name “Halle 101” can mean everything or nothing. First thing that comes to mind is Area 51 – don’t ask me why, it is how it is. Maybe because it’s located nearby Speyer harbour, next to the Technikmuseum Speyer, with its giant Boing 747 visible from every direction. Nevertheless it is the home of the Rockmusikerverein Speyer e. V.
Questions And Doubts
What will it be like? Should I expect single seats, looking more like an auditorium for a symphonic orchestra than a space of a wild crowd of metalheads? First of all because it is an open air concert, apart from the restrooms and the artists area, the Halle 101 itself is closed which means a lot of fresh air! Thanks to The Highest Being, my worst expectation was not the reality. After a very easy entrance, no rush, no panic, no jostling at all – metal heads were seen to be far more disciplined than the average visitor to a supermarket. They are seated in groups of eight, at tables with beer benches. These tables could easily seat twelve to sixteen people in an overcrowded Oktoberfest beer tent in Munich, so people have the space to stay apart a bit. We are kindly asked to remain seated unless visiting the restroom, the bar or the merch tables. It appears you don’t need to cover your mouth and nose with a mask while seated.
Dust In Mind Blows Your Mind Away
The clock slowly creeps toward 19:00 h, time for the first of three bands playing tonight. The opener is none other than the spectacular Dust in Mind from Strasbourg. They are one of the most innovative Industrial and Modern Metal bands in the French scene. Five down to earth musicians, Jennifer Gervais on main vocals, Damien Dausch, who sometimes supports Jen with harsh vocals, Yann Roy on guitars, Xavier Guiot on bass and Thomas Marasi on drums that conquer the world. They have already toured with bands like Machine Head, Arch Enemy and Pain.
Today, they play their sole gig with Jinjer on the Macro tour. After a short pre-set intro, they open their 30 minute show with “From Ashes To Flames”, the title track of their 2018 masterpiece to be followed by “This Is The End”. But this isn’t the end of course. They start to “Spread Disease” afterwards – at least we all have our masks on. After another three excellent songs they sadly finish with “Open Your Eyes” as a kind of encore. Don’t confuse it with the song from good old German veterans Guano Apes.
Was 30 Minutes Enough?
Dust In Mind’s show was good but too short. It deserved a less reserved crowd – but that’s how we Germans are, we remain silent once we are seated at a concert. The sound sadly was mediocre and a bit muffled. Listen to them on CD – yes, buy their CDs, highly recommended – and compare. They are excellent musicians who are comparable to bands like Epica, Delain, or In This Moment. They also have a strong industrial influence, so maybe they would match with German Heldmaschine. Of course, they cannot deny their French origins. There were many moments when Jen reminded me of Justine Daée of Elyose from Paris, though they don’t know each other in person. That is a pity because they would fit perfectly together.
It’s another pity that it’s far more difficult for most French metal bands to gain the acceptance and European fan base that bands from the UK, Scandinavia and especially Finland enjoy. Finland of course, can easily be named one of the Homelands Of Metal – even though Metal was birthed in Birmingham by another band – but that certainly is a different story.
On another note, it was a pleasure to watch the musicians of Dust In Mind enjoying the headliner as a part of the audience later in the evening. They almost played together six years ago at Lille but, due to issues with the tiny venue, that gig had to be cancelled. While talking with them after Jinjer’s show, they told me they are currently working on a new studio album to be released next year. If the odds are in their favour, they will be on tour in Germany with Crematory in January and February 2021. So indeed, open your eyes!!!! If they caught your interest, feel free to check their website.
Ghost Iris, The Danish Dynamite
After a short break, a visit to the rest room, merch tables or bar and minor changes of the stage construction, the second band of this late summer evening enters the stage and takes control: Ghost Iris from Copenhagen. Keep in mind, Denmark is the home of bands like Volbeat, who count as “Elvis-Metal” in Central Europe but are classified as mainstream rock in their country. Ghost Iris are different and yet they’re not. They are wandering on the path of Metal core with a bit of a nerdy influence. Nevertheless, they incorporate a wild mixture of influences from all the genres of Metal. So it’s no wonder some sources report them as Prog Metal, others as New Metal or Djent. Would it be unfair to simply call them the true metal version of Volbeat? At least in Denmark, they are one of the most streamed local bands…
They are Jesper Vicencio Gün on vocals, Nicklas Grønlund Thomsen on guitars, Sebastian Linnet on drums and Dennis Nielsen on bass. And they definitely keep the audience awake. Having a darker sky above certainly is helpful as it makes their light effects easier to see. Ghost Iris play the same 30ish minutes timeslot as the first band and make the best out of it, given that the audience – it’s really is not the usual crowd – remains seated and mostly silent, apart from someone somewhere clapping.
Ghost Iris was an interesting band worth seeing in concert again. You should pay a visit to their Facebook and Instagram pages in the meantime to find out more about them.
How To Wake The ‘Bench Potatoes’?
Well, that’s what the seated social-distancing metal concert was like so far. It’s now time to see how the headliner of the evening will wake up this crowd. It is given that Jinjer are one of the – if not THE – hardest working Metal bands on stage. They usually tour 400 days per year. They play 500 shows per year. They know the seats of most planes and coaches by name. They have seen almost every venue, no matter how small it is, around the world. They give everything they can give evening by evening, day by day, week by week, month by month and year by year.
Jinjer, Jinjer, Teach Me Metal!
After a relaxed 30-minutes break, another beverage, a chat with table neighbours and a hurting butt due to the hard bench, it is approaching 21:00 h.
The dark summer night is here and it’s time, time for a lesson. A lesson by Eugene Abdukhanov, Vladislav Ulasevish, Roman Ibramkhalilov and Tatiana Shmailyuk: our metal teachers for tonight. Yes you guess right, “Teacher, Teacher” is the furious opener of their show and they tell us how to “Sit, Stay, Roll Over”.
YES, They Are Back!
Visible from the very first moment is the enthusiasm and sheer gratitude exuded by Jinjer now that they are to be back on stage. There are many big “Thank you” shouts from them to the metalheads at the tables. Slowly the audience understands that it’s still possible to head bang while sitting on a bench. I am no “Ape” when I give the “Judgement (& Punishment)” though. Maybe “I Speak Astronomy” but “Who’s Gonna Be the One” is very clear, “Noah”!
One can easily see and hear that Jinjer has lost none of their amazing skills during the long break since their last shows this year – correct me if I am wrong – on the other side of the world in Australia.
Roman and his baseball cap – I’ve never seen him without it – on the left side of the stage. He is the picture of calm, serious and focussed on the performance. I can’t remember the last time he missed a note on his seven string guitar. Must be a millennium ago.
Eugene with his priceless facial expression. If looks could kill, we would all be dead. He is the same beast on the five string bass as ever. His hair, which seems to be getting longer and longer, is tied in a top braid. It’s just a question of time before it’s longer than Gene Simmons’ braid during his early years. This kind and friendly family man looks and acts more dangerous than a Tyrannosaurus Rex once he enters the right side of the stage.
Vlad still is the human high-speed drum machine, precise as ever, relaxed as usual. Equipped with his typical drum kit, he proves once again that less is more. Seldom is the guy in the background as remarkably present as he is when he sits behind his thunder machine.
Finally, Tatiana – tattoo fashionista and lead singer in a once again remarkable outfit – is the eye catcher of the band. She rules from the minute she enters, with her undeniable ability to enchant and seduce the audience, whether they’re sitting, standing or in a mosh pit. Side note for those who always look for it: no, there was no brand new tattoo visible this time.
Get Up, Sit Down!
Today’s ‘bench patatoes are already getting hyped and the security guards have to remind people to sit down more than once. In “Retrospection” of this musical “Perennial” and “On the Top” of this “Pit of Consciousness” I can say, Jinjer are “Home Back” and these certainly are not my “Words of Wisdom” but the result of their endless hard work and efforts.
They are truly a band that belongs to the stage, lives for the stage and gives us all hope for better times! There is a German phrase, -butter to the “Pisces”-, which means get to the point and speak the bare facts. Fact is, it’s “The Prophecy” of Jinjer to be back on track, continue their Metal Crusade around the world, and rule any crowd anywhere they play.
Chances For More
Whoever couldn’t grab a ticket for this “Macro”-tour still has a chance to listen to them live soon. On November 20th they will release their first live album “Alive in Melbourne” on CD, the first single “Teacher, Teacher” is already released. Let’s hope for a DVD-release of the album as well. It would be their second Live-DVD. The first was “Cloud Factory” from 2015, which isn’t available anymore.
You can wait for the release date to buy it at your favourite record shop or pre-order it as part of a bundle.
Social Distancing Or Disdancing?
I have a bit of a distorted image of the event. It is lovely to see bands coming back on stage. It is lovely to enjoy real people on stage instead of watching them on a live stream. It is lovely to buy the merch on the spot. It is lovely to talk with other people during the breaks – even if you don’t understand them due to the masks. It is lovely to meet your dedicated musicians after the show and have a chat with them. It is lovely to be in a sweaty crowd with two, three, five, 10.000 other metal heads.
The last part has changed though. It has changed for the sake of staying healthy during the pandemic. It has changed to protect those metal heads among us who are part of at-risk groups, but should not be denied the chance to attend shows. I hope it will change again once the pandemic is under control and the risk of an infection is low or non-existent. On the other hand’s side, should we get used to it and change most of our life style? Should we, or must we? Let’s wait and see.
I dedicate this review to my friend Katja – who is an even bigger supporter of Jinjer – but couldn’t visit the show due to the circumstances.
Be sure, she had her great input to the event report though.
Rockmusikerverein Speyer e. V.: Homepage
Dust In Mind: Homepage
Ghost Iris: Instagram, Facebook
Jinjer: Homepage, Merch/Pre-Order
All photos taken by Friend X aka Mr. Deep at the show in Speyer September 20th, 2020