Ethel Cain

Photos and Review by Emily Gringorten

Ethel Cain delivered a stunning performance in San Francisco on October 23, 2023. The date marked the second to last stop on the Blood Stained Blonde Tour and the first of a two night sold out run at the Castro Theatre. Her adoring fans dressed to the nines to hear Cain perform a short but sweet setlist comprising mostly songs from her debut album Preacher’s Daughter. 

Opener King Woman kicked off the night with a drone and shoegaze set that nicely set the tone. Cain would later comment that lead vocalist Kristina Esfandiari was a great mentor to her throughout her musical journey. Shortly after 9pm, Ethel Cain emerged wearing a floor length white gown, heeled loafers, and dainty cross necklace, perfectly tailored to her classic Southern gothic aesthetic. Looking absolutely ethereal, she kicked off the set with “Strangers.” Backed by a three-piece band, the singer, born Hayden Silas Anhedönia, emphasized how thankful she was to her fans for showing up to support her. 

She cruised effortlessly through the nine song setlist, including tracks like “Thoroughfare,” “A House in Nebraska,” and “American Teenager.” Then, she exited the stage for a brief moment before re-emerging for the fan favorite “Crush” from her 2021 project Inbred. Her interactions with fans were a highlight; she glided effortlessly back and forth across the stage and made so many fans feel special through direct eye contact and hand holding. The Castro Theatre was also the perfect setting, as the seated venue allowed fans to comfortably take in her performance without the chaos that comes from a general admission pit. 

This was my first time seeing Ethel Cain and I really hope it isn’t the last. I was impressed by her sophistication and how comfortable she seemed on stage, and you’d never know that she’s only been performing for a little over a year. Be sure to keep an eye on her and check her out live when she tours her new music.