10.2.2024 KiLóMeTrOs & T. Jarva & the Dark Place @ Kuudes Linja, Helsinki

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T. JARVA & THE DARK PLACE released their debut album, “Post Festum,” at the beginning of this month, so it was only a matter of time before they hosted a much-needed release party. The event took place on February 10th, 2024, at Kuudes Linja, featuring KILÓMETROS as the opening act. We were eager to witness their performance once again, this time in a different environment and on such a special occasion. The band was formed through the collaborative efforts of Taneli Jarva, known to most for his work with bands like SENTENCED and IMPALED NAZARENE in the early ’90s, among others, and Sami Hassinen, who also plays guitar in the gothic rock band SLEEP OF MONSTERS. Initially, T. JARVA & THE DARK PLACE began as a duo in 2018 but eventually incorporated other musicians into their live performances.

We didn’t know much about the opening act, KILÓMETROS, as the information available online was quite basic. All we knew was that this was their very first concert. However, we eventually discovered that singer Kari Reini and bassist Jukka Puurula were involved in the recording process of “Post Festum,” as the album was recorded at their studio, Casa de la Música, located near Málaga, Spain. Puurula also worked as a producer for the album, and both actively played on it. Moreover, they have been involved in the music scene in various roles over the years. Given their contributions to “Post Festum,” it’s not surprising that they were invited as the opening band for the release party. It felt like a pleasant reunion of old and new friends.

The atmosphere was warm and relaxed, yet we could clearly sense their excitement being in a completely packed venue. Our expectations were high, and they were completely met. The first part of their set was acoustic, followed by an electric set. All of their tunes were in English except for one, “Respira,” which had Spanish lyrics. The four band members took the stage around 20:00 and played a total of nine songs. On most of them, the bass player switched to double bass, adding a classy and slightly vintage vibe to the sound. Additionally, guitarist Mikko Hentunen played the harmonica, while drummer Samuli Helonen used drum brushes on some of the tunes.

It’s difficult to pinpoint the exact music genre KILÓMETROS plays; it’s a classy blend of indie rock, blues, world music, and folk elements. Their main inspirations come from traveling, friendships, and all those small things that make life worth living, including darker themes. The overall uplifting, soft, mellow, yet energetic mood of their songs left us hoping to hear more from them, perhaps in the form of an album, sooner or later.

After a short break, Taneli Jarva and his bandmates took the stage, nicely dressed and visibly excited, yet maintaining their usual professionalism. This was not the first time we had seen the band perform; in fact, we had written about them before. However, seeing T. JARVA & THE DARK PLACE always provides a pleasant and fresh experience that we never grow tired of.

The venue was packed, and it seemed like most attendees had at least one tattoo done by Jarva himself (as many of you probably know, he works as a professional tattoo artist). Many were also sporting T-shirts featuring bands for which Jarva had designed the logo in the past. This created an atmosphere that felt cozy, familiar, and somewhat nostalgic in a unique and heartwarming way.

“Calamity” was the first song they played, delivering an intense and dramatic, gloomy vibe. The audience drew closer to the stage, heightening the already intimate atmosphere. The magic these guys create is consistently impressive, regardless of how many concerts we’ve attended. The song itself is hauntingly beautiful, and its live rendition only enhances its allure.

Jarva then announced “A Drunkard’s Prayer” as the next song, prompting keyboardist Janne Immonen to switch to a 12-string guitar, while Hassinen provided backing vocals. Despite the dark lyrics, the soft, somewhat uplifting features of the tune, complemented by drummer Sami Käyhkö‘s work, led us to notice that most people around us were singing along.

“Can’t Let Go” saw Immonen return to the keyboards. Jarva‘s hand gestures just before the choruses were noteworthy; they felt like those intimate moments you share with a long-time friend during a deep, meaningful conversation that leaves its mark. Looking back, we’d say this sentiment encapsulated our experience throughout the entire performance. Undoubtedly, one of the highlights was “January’s Child,” with its dramatic, melancholic vibe, allowing Jarva‘s baritone voice to navigate a melody reminiscent of a sorrowful lullaby. As Jarva finished the piece, he blew a kiss to his partner in the audience – a sweet moment indeed.

Double-bass player Ari Lampinen grabbed the bow to perform DEAD MOON‘s cover “Dagger Moon,” a song that had been in the band’s setlist since their days as an acoustic duo. Hassinen‘s solo was passionately delivered, and Jarva‘s vocals took on a slightly more aggressive tone, evoking reminiscences of his youthful days – if you catch our drift.

He took a different guitar, and Immonen grabbed the 12-string guitar for “The Crossroads’ Song,” where we once again noticed how rich and multifaceted a low-pitched voice can be in storytelling. Immonen and Hassinen provided some excellent backing vocals that elevated the performance to the next level. Jarva whistled into the microphone as a conclusion and shared anecdotes about the great times they had while recording the album in Andalusia. He eventually mentioned the birds singing at the window during the recording of this specific tune, which led to the inclusion of the whistle in the song. This detail made us smile and spoke volumes about the easy-going and cozy vibe we were experiencing.

We firmly believe that both “Golden Girl” and “Venus is High” hold a special place in the audience’s hearts, judging by their enthusiastic response. Jarva even shared a funny story with us about how and when “Venus is High” was written. It truly felt like being among a group of friends, simply living in the moment, laughing, and enjoying our time together.

A special guest joined the stage: Hanna Wendelin, a name that surely rings a bell as she is one of the choristers in SLEEP OF MONSTERS. Jarva shared with the audience some insights about the next song, “Bride of Jesus,” which carries a peculiar vein of irony and a nostalgic vibe in its storytelling. It also features a rather wicked laugh, which sounded even more sinister than usual this time, in a good and somewhat humorous manner.

“Mercy Curse” served as a perfect conclusion: its eerie mood and haunting melody made it an incredibly classy tune that truly shone on such a night. The whole band left the stage afterward, but Jarva returned, clearly having something more in store for us. As we clapped and screamed, he delighted us with a stripped-down version of Townes Van Zandt’s “Kathleen”: just his voice and guitar, nothing else. He introduced the song as the one he played at his mother’s funeral. As painful as this detail may be, sharing it with us provided an even clearer picture of the sense of emotional connection we felt.

After that, the other musicians joined him again on stage, and he introduced them by name, one by one. Hanna joined as well, and together they treated us to an excellent cover of “Henry Lee” by Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds. With time ticking away, Jarva asked us to choose between Mark Lanegan‘s “One Way Street” or Leonard Cohen‘s “Avalanche” as the next and closing song. Lanegan‘s tune won, but they eventually played both.

It was a great finale. Before leaving the stage, he thanked the lighting and sound technicians, the opening band, and all of us in the audience as well. It was a truly special night, as their passion and dedication to delivering outstanding and sincere music were evident. “Post Festum” is, according to them, “a labor of love and donoteat,” as stated in the credits section. We wholeheartedly confirm and endorse that sentiment, and we feel deeply grateful for every note and word they shared with us.

Written by Licia Mapelli
Photos by Mirko L.

Setlist

  1. Calamity
  2. A Drunkard’s Prayer
  3. Can’t Let Go
  4. January’s Child
  5. Dagger Moon (Dead Moon cover)
  6. The Crossroads’ Song
  7. Golden Girl
  8. Venus is High
  9. Bride of Jesus
  10. Mercy Curse
  11. Kathleen (Townes Van Zandt cover)
  12. Henry Lee (Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds cover)
  13. One Way Street (Mark Lanegan cover)
  14. Avalanche (Leonard Cohen cover)