I didn’t write this review the very next day after the show. I spent the following day basking in the afterglow and just reminiscing this sublime experience; like a freshman the morning after a classic rager. With some shows, the band plays and the crowd stands there and watches. Other shows make the crowd feel like they were truly part of an event. Seeing Aesthetic Perfection’s American Psycho Tour come through San Diego was such an event.
I’m glad I arrived at The Casbah early. Turns out there were actually FIVE bands on the bill, rather than the advertised three. More on that later.
Opening the show was LA’s Arden & The Wolves, which came as a total surprise to me. As we’re both friends of Sounds & Shadows, Arden Leigh and I had been in communication for various reasons over the last several months. But as A&TW was a last minute addition to the bill, I was thrown a pleasant curveball on this. If fact, so many members of the “family” were present this night, it felt like a Sounds & Shadows mixer.
Simply put, A&TW have their shit together. The playing was solid and on-point, with Nick Mason (NOT the Nick Mason of Pink Floyd ) having the tightest drumming of the night. Pete Mills on guitar and Justin Emord on bass compliment Arden Leigh’s commanding stage presence. With the disciplined polish to her look and sound, I got the feeling Arden could have done this show in her sleep. She was, however, very much awake with an energy and enthusiasm that sucked in any onlookers. And with the number of San Diego fans who turned out to see this LA band on a Sunday night, it’s obvious that this is a band with traction and an appeal that will only grow over time.
Next up was an act I knew nothing about ahead of time, Halo Boy. Now this was an interesting twist I didn’t see coming; hip-hop infused indie pop with a none-too-subtle industrial edge. Sounds like it would be a hot mess, right? Instead, Cameron Cade takes all these influences and intelligently combines them into an eclectic blend where no two songs sounded the same and kept the crowd guessing where it would go next. Afterwards, I overheard people in the audience comparing them to everything from Imagine Dragons to Hollywood Undead. Linkin Park was another name that popped up more than once in the conversation as well.
Halo Boy’s live show is very energetic with the zeal of youth. This guy was on fire and wasn’t afraid to singe the onlookers who were standing too close; jumping into the crowd, giving random hugs and starting a mosh pit. The rhythm section was locked in and took the songs where they needed to go. And I had to give the bass player credit for showing grace under pressure after his E string broke on the last song.
Following Halo Boy came the band I was most excited to see initially, Philadelphia’s genCAB. Having written about genCAB previously, I was intrigued by how they would pull off their sound live. Turns out the lineup on this night was stripped down to the duo of David Dutton and Cristian Carver.
Don’t get the idea that this made the show any less. They were having a ball onstage and the enthusiasm was contagious. And while the band was perhaps a bit socially lubricated courtesy of the friendly Casbah bar staff, they steered into the skid and made even their mistakes work for them in a fun and powerful live show.
David exudes a natural onstage charisma and Christian was on a epic tear with crazy flying hair and flying drumsticks. And while all the bands brought their “A” game, genCAB proved to be on a level that was easily on-par with their LA counterparts.
Three bands in and not a dud yet. Josie Pace hit the ground running to keep the show moving along. Talk about showmanship! Josie and accompanist Ken Roberts stepped onto that drum-cramped stage and proceeded to own it. Funny thing, but I realized that I was more familiar with Josie’s oeuvre than I thought thanks to the Sounds & Shadows Spotify playlist. Next thing I know, I’m singing along to songs like Underestimated and Storm And Stress.
I’m hard-pressed to decide between Arden and Josie who had the strongest voice of the night, as both of them kicked my ass with epic vocal performances. I’ll just call it Apples & Oranges and leave it there. Pace closed her truncated set with a cover of Placebo’s Pure Morning that I liked better than the original. I went in thinking I didn’t know what to expect only to come away with a fanboy crush.
And, of course, we have Aesthetic Perfection as the headliner.
Sexy, weird and loud; this show had three of my favorite flavors. Daniel Graves is certainly a performer with an ability to move the crowd, even if he did get a humorous talking to from drummer Joe Letz for forgetting the next song on the setlist. Constance Antoinette Day did the heavy lifting; playing guitar, keys and bass variously throughout the set as she effectively played up the gothic sex kitten image.
It took me a while to recognize Letz, although the androgynous latex look doesn’t disagree with him. And his fetching blond wig was a nice touch. He flailed, he gyrated, he drank from a dildo-shaped water bottle. Those of us in the front were in danger of being hit with water or flying drumsticks at any given time. At one point, I was worried about getting smacked by the floor tom. I feel for the drum tech on this tour.
Most of the songs were newer, if not from the newest release, MMXXI, but there were indeed a few crowd-pleasers to be had. It wasn’t the tightest set I’ve seen, but that didn’t seem to be the point. Make it hard, make it punchy, make it memorable; that was the order of the day.
My only complaint? It turns out that A&TW and Halo Boy were added to the bill after winning a battle of the bands in Los Angeles. However, it was explained to me that each tour stop was supposed to have a local act as an opener. As a native-born lifelong San Diegan, I wish to point out the following: LOS ANGELES IS NOT SAN DIEGO. Thank you, that is all.
San Diego was the last leg of the American Psycho Tour in California. Those of you who get a chance to check out Aesthetic Perfection on the road have a raucous night full of music and antics to look forward to. Although there may be moments when you’ll want to keep a safe distance from the stage.
(CORRECTION: Halo Boy and Arden did not win the Battle of the Bands for Los Angeles, BlakLight did and played with AP on that date. Arden won for San Diego. Halo Boy was a last minute addition to all the California shows.)