Aesthetic Perfection/Empathy Test North American Tour: Vancouver, BC

When I found out Aesthetic Perfection was going to be playing in Vancouver I knew I had to be there, especially since I have no idea when they may be back. Having the opportunity to splurge, I went for the VIP meet and greet.

When it comes to VIP experiences, some bands are big enough they can do fan contests or draws for free, others will charge upwards of $100+. The best ones you pay for are about $50-100, and totally worth the once in a lifetime experience. If they are charging upwards of $100+, you may not get what you pay for, so be wary when putting out that kind of cash.

Coming from Vancouver Island means taking a ferry and staying in a hotel or hostel, which is an extra cost on top of your tickets. It better be worth it!

The VIP was hands down worth it! If you ever get the chance to go for the VIP do it! Even if it’s not the greatest experience, you still got the opportunity to meet the band and hopefully chat up some fellow fans. Which I got to chat with some outside the venue while waiting for VIP, and got a polaroid photo with (using a Fujifilm Instax camera).

This VIP experience was very unique and such an interesting way to interact with their fans.

Pub 340 in Vancouver is actually a pub, a not a really big one. Our meet and greet was held in a tiny basement, complete with uneven floor (which was an advantage for some 😉 ) small ceiling (poor Joe) and damp concrete. But it was still wicked nonetheless! There were 8 of us cramped in there with the 2 of 3 members (I’ll explain why the 3rd wasn’t there momentarily). Each of us got a turn to be one-on-one with each member, doing an activity with them. We played “beer”(water) pong, which was dubbed the “hydration station,” with Daniel (I lost 2-1), and we played pictionary with Joe in which we keep the signed picture he drew for us, mine being the Alcoholic Easter Bunny.

video by Pero Ivankovic

The guys were amazing! We got a signed Polaroid photo with them as well as signed VIP tour poster. Plus they offered to sign anything else and take extra photos. Daniel is such a stand-up guy, very humble, recording videos for 2 fans, 1 talking to someone who didn’t make the Ontario show, and 2 talking to a 10 year old daughter who wished she could be there and wrote a letter for him.

Here’s the deal. When it comes to bands/artists that aren’t mainstream, there can be issues when touring. Mainly, when going back and forth from Canada to the United States by tour bus, they may be detained, and their gear may be held. In this tour, Elliot Berlin, the keyboard player/guitarist was detained at the border, as well as their merch girl, some other crew and 1 of 2 of their supporting bands, Lazerpunk. Reasons for being detained can include, criminal records, not having proper paperwork (visa permits) etc. or for no real reason at all. But as long as most make it, the show will go on.

This also meant that they were running late! Not sure how long they were detained for but for those who made it to Vancouver, it meant that soundcheck was late as well as the VIP meet and greet.

Lucky for us, the guys still gave us the allotted time for the meet and greet, and the show went on without a hitch despite missing a member.

Insider tip: You’re going to see your favorite band, they have one or two supporting bands with them. You haven’t heard of the supporting bands. Wait and check them out live, if you like their live show you’ll be more inclined to listen to their recorded stuff and be more willing to invest in them. Otherwise, you could be in for disappointment. If you don’t like them, then it’s not a biggie. Just a thought, and hasn’t steered me wrong.

Opener band, Empathy Test, was one I discovered through Aesthetic Perfection touring with them. I already had one track on my Spotify playlist so I was curious to see what they would be like live.

They did not disappoint! Recruiting Angel Metro to fill in on keyboard/synth for their regular player, you’d think she was a permanent member of the group. Always wicked to give props to and see female musicians, especially drummers. Chrisy Lopez killed it! I have absolute respect for these two vixens. When it comes to Isaac Howlett, the mastermind behind Empathy Test (lead singer, songwriter and manager), his live voice matches recorded. The lyrics speak volumes, delving deep within you, and lingering when you think they’ve left. I cannot stop listening to their music, some of my (now) favorite tracks getting stuck in my head. I feel such a connection to them, and after some research I figured out why. Their name deriving from the film Blade Runner, their sound pulled from the futuristic ’80s, and their mental health advocacy just put them right near the top of my list.

Vampire Town

Empathy Test are definitely worth checking out, and if you get the chance to see them live, do it!

When it comes to electronic music, electro-industrial, synth-pop genre, the recorded stuff is mostly that, electronic with samples, synthesizers etc.. When it comes to performing that kind of music live, putting on a good show requires live musicians to give it a true experience, rather that watch 1 person on stage singing to a bunch of background music. This is where these two bands excel! Having live music along with the backing music/vocals.

You have to give props where props are due. The crew that these guys are touring with are amazing! Quickly to set-up and take down gear, fix any issues quickly, and the sound quality was just incredible for a pub. Loud and being right up front I thought my ears would be ringing afterwards, but they weren’t. The sound was loud, but crisp, and not an overbearing loudness either. You would have to be there to know what I mean.

After Empathy Test has all their gear off stage and there is a bit of a break. The moment the pub has been waiting for. Daniel and Joe take their places on stage and rip through the opening track, Gods and Gold (recorded track features Richard Z Kruspe of Rammstein on lead guitar). The crowd energy was feeding off the music, singing along, jumping and moving together.

After the show, the guys are more than awesome about hanging out, taking photos and just shootn’ the shit. Not too many artists are this cool!

Shows like these are proof you don’t need any elaborate pyro or fancy big stage setup. Just the energy of the music and the fans. These guys put on a great show, and being in a smaller venue, also means great photo/video shots if you can get close enough. Keeping in mind, to try and enjoy the show as much as possible without your phone out. It can be tough but sometimes you can keep a nice balance. Recording a couple of your favorite tracks and getting a couple of good pics then putting that phone away to completely immerse yourself in the music and the vibes.

For one night, my depression, my anxiety, my inner demons were at bay and I was able to enjoy myself and have a good time. Despite my shyness, I was still able to chat it up with other fans, and have a great VIP experience. You have to take a chance and go beyond your emotional fears, or you won’t have the experience you deserve. My anxiety was floating, as I am not good with crowds for long periods of time. But people at these kinds of shows have a better energy, more positive and upbeat. As long as you focus on yourself having a good time, you will.

Gods and Gold
Never Enough
All Beauty Destroyed

After the VIP, I went to the merch table and had a look. I am not one for pink but I caved and bought a tank top, which fits (yay!) and I actually really like it. I wasn’t going to buy any merch because I did the VIP but I wanted something I could wear as well.

This meant that after the show I had to grab an Empathy Test shirt because, well they were awesome, and I wanted to have something of theirs.

Drummers are known for throwing their used sticks into the crowd. Joe Letz is one of those drummers. After the last tune, he tossed his sticks (the last pair he used, as he used a few) and one stick landed right in front of me at the edge of the stage and I reached out and snagged it!

Shows like these are the best way to meet new people, and get out of your comfort zone (if you’re like me). We all like the same artist (as we are all attending the same show) and we can discuss other artists that we may be familiar with.

To start, I was going to go to the show by myself as none of my regular friends have never even heard of Aesthetic Perfection. I was looking at the Facebook fan page (which is actually run by Daniel himself) and another girl had posted that she was going from Vancouver Island and was there anyone else going, to maybe meet on the boat. I piped up and said I was coming from Nanaimo! She said, me too, and we ended up chatting and sharing my room over in Vancouver and went to the show together. Unfortunately, she didn’t get to do the VIP, but waited with me outside until I got to go in. We ended up chatting up a couple of the other VIPs, talking about other shows we’ve been to, other music we like, film and tv. It was great.

In the VIP session, I realized I recognized Pero Ivankovic from the fan group online, saying he was going to the show from Bowen Island. We said hey and each had a great time. Later sharing photos, videos etc on the fan group.

After the VIP, while I was at the merch table I got see my buddy Gary, whom I snagged a hug, had a small chat and basically “enjoy the show.”

I noticed a guy wearing the exact same Rammstein shirt as I was and I commented, he said he seen them in Vancouver when they were there, as did I.

During the show I gazed around to see Gary, and Mia (cool chick I met outside waiting for VIP) and Pero, we nodded and smiled, basically the sign for having a good time.

Little connections like these can make a show even better. Social anxiety can be a bitch, but if you let it control your life, you are missing out on living. I am not usually one to put myself out there, but at a show like this, it was worth the risk, as I had a great reward.

I’m sorry I didn’t get to see Lazerpunk, as they got detained at the border.
But nonetheless, the show was amazing. Not only the music, but the people. It’s music like this that can really make a community. Stereotypes say it’s demonic, or depressing, or negative or whatever the hell. I have to say BULLSHIT! The nicest people you will ever meet are people who enjoy industrial, metal, rock, gothic etc. We may dress/look/act a bit “odd” to put it bluntly, but we are a community of people who survive, who are nice to each other (for the most part) and who have each other’s backs.

I’ve gone through some tough shit in my life. This music has gotten me through a lot of it. I cannot live without music.

Thank you so much to Empathy Test and Aesthetic Perfection for being my anti-depressant for the night and putting on an amazing show! Please come back sooner rather than later!

Empathy Test
Facebook: Empathy Test
Twitter: Empathy Test
Spotify: Empathy Test

Aesthetic Perfection
Facebook: Aesthetic Perfection
Twitter: Daniel Graves
Spotify: Aesthetic Perfection
YouTube: Close to Human Music

Kristy O’Regan/


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