The Chapel, San Fransisco
19 September 2019
On one warm Friday evening, I took off work early and headed to the city not to simply escape the heat and indulge in the delectable culinary offerings but to primarily see one of my favorite bands. This particular trip was especially anxious with an interview confirmed with headliners, Arkona, but more on that later.
Over the past 15 years of live shows in the Bay, this was my first attendance at The Chapel and admittedly the best. Being a bit early in the evening still, we took liberty of the famous Mission District and strolled down to a quaint dinner stop. Show doors were slated to open at 8 with a quoted start time at 9pm. This seemed a bit late but I didn’t think twice about it at the moment. Only to find out after Metsatoll’s set, running into Arcane Existence’s equally lovely as fierce front woman Jade, their opening act played at 8:30 and we were actually late and had already missed them, womp, womp…… upside presents an opportunity to catch them live next time.
Walking in tardy as mentioned, we headed to the upstairs bar, although we could have chosen the one downstairs or the other around the corner, even perhaps the one in the restaurant next door. The Estonian quartet had mostly filled the venue and for good reason. Their intricate traditional instrumentation and a downtuned humpa flare instantly caught my attention, completely blowing me away! And as with previous times, I am left wondering why I’ve never listened to them before. The crowd was upbeat and delighted by the setlist as we prepared for the main act.
An entire archive of memories circles my mind from 2019’s Friday the 13th in September, all culminating in Arkona’s time on the stage, second only to getting to know them prior that day. Given the decennial commemoration of the release, Goi Rode Goi and Yarilo graced the live stage however they opened with several tracks from the recently released Khram, including Целуя жизнь, Ребёнок без имени, Белая тень and the title track if recounting correctly. Akona also performed many classics like Arkaim, Nevidal’, Ot Serdca K Nebu and Zakljatie. Despite enjoying these favorites, the highlight was nonetheless Khram material. Probably attributed to a freshly found admiration that evening since understanding the intent and philosophy behind it directly from the source. To the naysayers regarding the diversion from major folk instrumentation, I would disagree and argue that as the song-writing progresses, those aspects remain but only to enhance delivery of the modern, cinematic black metal style which adds novelty and escalates the atmospheric value.
I can’t rave enough on the acoustics, accommodations and overall experience of this show, many thanks to everyone involved!