LIVE at House of Blues San Diego
January 3, 2023 Review by Chris Hazel
It was a Friday night in downtown San Diego, and it was cold enough to see your own breath as you exhaled into the crisp air. There was a huge group of eager metal heads surrounding the House of Blues, waiting in a line that wrapped around the block from 6th Avenue to Broadway. That night, Jinjer, P.O.D. (Payable on Death), and Space of Variations were going to bring the boom to the last big all-ages show of 2022 for the San Diego House of Blues.

Inside the venue was a packed, sold-out crowd of head bangers, proving that the heavy metal community is a tight group. In fact, there were some familiar faces from last week’s Amon Amarth Soma show in the house for this Jinjer show.

Space of Variations hopped right into it with “Someone Else” and “Slaughterhouse” off their album “IMAGO” to get things going. With an aggressive hardcore metal vibe and energetic pounding of the percussion onstage, the audience had woken up from their nap. In the middle of everything, lead vocalist Dima Kozhuhar brought out a Ukrainian flag to talk about the hardship of the war back home, and to ask for love and support his fellow man. Kozhuhar then stagedived into the crowd, screamed through “Face to Face,” then ended their 40-minute set with “Tibet.”

The hometown boys from San Diego were up next. It was only fitting that the festive jingle of “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas” by Bing Crosby was playing on the speaker system, followed by Dr. Dre’s “Still D.R.E.” as the band’s walk-in intro music. P.O.D. amped up the intensity when they led off with “Boom” as vocalist Sonny Sandoval stood on the barricade singing to the audience. Then the place went off the hook when they jammed their hit “Rock the Party.”
Halfway through P.O.D.’s one-hour set, the band took a breather. The group explained that with the exception of a few one-off dates, the band had not planned on hitting the road this year, but when Jinjer asked them to join the tour, they had to say yes. With his custom Dia De Los Muertos PRS guitar in hand, Marcos Curiel told the audience he would be DJing in downtown Little Italy after the show.

Then Sandoval’s own teenage son Justice – who is the spitting image of his father – crowdsurfed his way to the stage. They asked for all the kids in the audience to join them onstage to wave the P.O.D. flags and sing along to “Youth of the Nation” while Justice banged on some drums. They closed with crowd-pleasing songs “Southtown” and “Alive.”

Originally planned for October 31st as the tour kick off, Jinjer had some visa issues that forced the San Diego show to become the tour closer instead. Now it was finally time for our conquering protectors of Ukrainian spirit to control the stage.
With six tall, vertical LED walls for video and moving lights all around, the fans got excited when Jinjer started playing “Sit Stay Roll Over.” Then, out walked the empowering and engaging singer, Tatiana Shmayluk. As she screamed at the top of her lungs, “ARE YOU READY SAN DIEGO!?” they went straight into “Teacher, Teacher!” The whole venue went bat-shit crazy with bodies everywhere, dancing and singing!

The fifth song of the night for Jinjer was “I Speak Astronomy,” which had a massive mosh pit going while Roman Ibramkhalilov ripped virtuosically on his purple prototype Jackson guitar. Then, during “Judgment and Punishment,” Shmayluk showed us that not only could she deliver the brutal metal gutturals, but she could also sing quiet and lovely all in the same melody.

Taking a moment to address the fans and thank them for all their support, Shmayluk said, “This one is for Ukraine; let me hear you, San Diego!” A swarm of people clapped along to the intro of “Who is Gonna Be the One” as Vladislav Ulasevich hit the hi-hat in rhythm. At the end of the song, a big group of patrons crowdsurfed into the hands of the waiting security guards.
While Eugene (Abdukhanov) Kostyuk slapped his Overload Achilles bass during “Call Me a Symbol,” he yelled into the microphone and singled to the spectators for an old-school, heavy-metal circle pit. Then the audience joined in on a sing-along in the middle of the breakdown for “Pisces.” Encoring to the song “On the Top,” a sea of virtuous devotees were crowdsurfing to their heart’s content to end Jinjer’s hour-and-half set.

What a way to end the tour! With all the devotion from their adoring fans at the San Diego House of Blues, Jinjer closed out their US tour in an epic way, and we look forward to their return.


by Chris Hazel Photography



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