Ukrainian progressive- and death-influenced four-piece Jinjer barreled through New York City on October 2, the 18th stop of a 42-date run across North America. It was their first headlining show in the city, and to nobody’s surprise, the Gramercy Theatre was completely sold out. Fans of varying ages and musical tastes flocked to the venue early to catch a glimpse of Jinjer in action, with the inimitable vocalist Tatiana Shmailyuk at the helm.
Opener Sumo Cyco kicked off the night several minutes early, delivering some shock value to the packed house. Singer Skye “Sever” Sweetnam, whose previous credits include a Canadian Juno Awards nomination as a solo artist. She was a petite sprite in yellow leather, whose presence smacked of a Jagged Little Pill-era Alanis Morissette, mixed with both the shock value and playful elements of Miley Cyrus’ 2013 performance at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards.
“Free Yourself” was an event, as Sweetnam left the stage mid-song to cross the room, stand on the bar, and shoot whiskey before returning to her post. A highlight of the set was their cover of System of a Down’s “B.Y.O.B.”, which the audience sang along with wholeheartedly. “Run with the Giants” had its own synth-laden groove, and as the band’s latest single, gave a taste of their forthcoming album in the works.
The Browning was up next, an “electronicore” band from Kansas City, Missouri comprised of Jonny McBee (lead vocals, programming), Brian Moore (guitars), Cody Stewart (drums), and Collin Woroniak (bass, backing vocals). To their credit, they were able to rev up the mosh pit, with a blend of EDM and metalcore elements that injected energy into the crowd. McBee attempted to garner further attention from the audience, reminding them it was a metal show, “not a coffee shop!”
Their wardrobe aesthetic was somewhat confusing, with Stewart in the band’s shirt and Moore in a tie-dyed onesie, as an example. “Pure Evil” and “Dragon” were two of the more engaging songs of their set, launching the audience into style crossed metal vocals and heavy, chugging guitars with layers of synths reminiscent of a Skrillex show.
Metal Solstice witnessed Jinjer in July at John Smith Rock Festival in Laukaa, Finland, and if the weekend had been a competition, they might have won. Their daytime performance on the Kaaos stage felt like the audience was in Jinjer’s collective living room, jamming in their comfort zone, knocking the neighbors’ houses completely off of their foundations. No elaborate costuming or stage stunts, simply a “less is more” approach and stunning musicianship from Shmailyuk (vocals), Roman Ibramkhalilov (guitars), Eugene Abdukhanov (bass), and Vladislav Ulasevich (drums) that captivated the crowd.
Those statement aren’t made lightly; but where did this band come from? Both in Finland and New York, fans could be heard saying, “I’d never heard of them until last year”. They’ve been around for a decade; formed in 2009, they’ve since released three full-length albums and three EPs, with a new full-length album entitled Macro due October 25 via Napalm Records. They continued to draw acclaim over time, but a springtime 2018 run on Cradle of Filth’s Cryptoriana Tour put them on the map in the U.S.
The lighting on the Gramercy Theatre stage was both beautiful and explosive, akin to the band’s entrance with “Teacher, Teacher”, a song from the Micro EP, released earlier this year, featuring spoken, sung, and brutally growled vocals among periods of calm. Shmailyuk’s vocal mic was the only one to be found; unaccompanied by background vocals, she effortlessly floated between clean and harsh vocals without wavering. Jinjer’s progressive nature means that they frequently toy with time signature in a sophisticated way, careful not to disrupt the audience’s headbanging.
“Who Is Gonna Be the One” showcased the band’s individual talents, with Abdukhanov’s five-string bass tone at the forefront of the song and a memorable breakdown midway through. The set also included a taste of what Macro will bring, with the reggae-infused “Judgement (& Punishment)” as well as “Retrospection”. Not present in the set, but still very much noteworthy, is “On the Top”, Jinjer’s latest single and opening track of the upcoming LP.
The mosh pit could have been more aggressive, but many fans who had previously been running in circles stopped their movement to point their phones skyward. A sea of screens was distracting at times to those trying to take in the set, but it was clear that many fans sought to return to these moments later. After serenading Ibramkhalilov for his 30th birthday, Jinjer concluded the memorable performance with an encore of 2016’s “Pisces”, which has served as a perennial fan favorite, garnering over 6.4 million streams on Spotify alone.
Remember: Macro is out worldwide on October 25! Want to catch Jinjer in your city? The remaining North American tour dates include:
- Oct 24: Spicoli’s Reverb, Waterloo, Iowa
- Oct 25: Wildwood Smokehouse and Saloon, Iowa City, Iowa
- Oct 26: Route 20, Sturtevant, Wisconsin
- Oct 27: Turf Club, St. Paul, Minnesota
- Oct 29: Dickens Pub, Calgary, Alberta
- Oct 30: The Starlite Room, Edmonton, Alberta
- Oct 31: Rickshaw Theatre, Vancouver, BC
- Nov 1: El Corazon, Seattle, Washington
- Nov 2: Hawthorne Theatre, Portland, Oregon