One year ago I witnessed Pop Evil as the opening act for Theory of a Deadman while touring behind their smash album, War Of Angels. At the time, I saw a band that was hungry, on the rise, and giving a performance that destroyed the one from the band they opened for. This past Friday I saw Pop Evil as a very special guest act for Three Days Grace while touring in anticipation of their forthcoming release, Onyx. This time I got to see a band that was tighter, hungrier, and even more dedicated to their live performance than ever before. What a difference a year makes.
The Sherman Theater, where Pop Evil and Three Days Grace performed, holds 2,000 people at maximum capacity. 1,800 tickets were sold for that Friday night show. Just before Pop Evil took the stage, 1,600 fans stood waiting for the special guests to open the night. There were no other bands scheduled to perform. Minutes before Pop Evil promptly took the stage at 8:00 PM, the crowd filled in tight on the floor from the front of the stage all the way to the exit doors. When the lights went down the crowd erupted.
Pop Evil performed a mind blowing ten song set. Knowing only 45 minutes were allotted for their performance, the band avoided gimmicks and let the music do the talking. The music spoke volumes. Opening with their debut single “Hero” (from Lipstick On The Mirror) Pop Evil exploded onto the stage with a deafening roar from the crowd supporting them. Their night only got better from there. Playing their best known hits (“Monster You Made,” “Purple”) along with some new gems (“Trenches,” “Goodbye My Friend”), Pop Evil made the most of their short time. Once again, during the performance of “Purple” I heard fans proclaim that they had to buy that album or that song. It happens every time I see the band in concert. It is how they win their fans over—one song at a time, one performance at a time.
And while they had a couple of months off to record their new album (Onyx, due out May 14th), the band never really left the road after War Of Angels was released. The band has played anywhere and everywhere, opening for whoever would have them, and headlining their own shows when they couldn’t open. All of the constant touring has matured the band in ways that were visibly and audibly noticeable. Their set was much tighter, with a higher level of confidence in the music. And with five singles in a row breaking the top 15 on the music charts, why shouldn’t they be confident of their music? On stage, the crowd saw five men very proud of what they have accomplished, while yearning to achieve much more.
Drummer Chachi Riot (aka Josh Marunde) should have been nicknamed Animal after the mad drumming puppet from The Muppet Show. He has the similar wild mane of hair, beard, wicked grin, and drumming style. Chachi is insane behind the drum kit, standing for most of the show while pounding the skins and slamming the cymbals. Bassist Matt DiRito is akin to an angry pirate, whipping his long tangled hair around and around while holding the rhythm section steady. Dave Grahs quietly provides perfect rhythm guitar, playing concise chords that burst the music to a higher level. And while long time fans may miss the presence of Tony Greve, current lead guitarist Nick Fueling has come into his own, creating blistering solos in addition to his exceptional leads. Then, at the center of it all, is front man Leigh Kakaty. Still singing like an angel, still looking like he is having the time of his life onstage, still whipping the crowd into a frenzy. Pop Evil has gotten much stronger in the live setting since the last time I saw them.
And while the fan favorites (and biggest hits) “100 In A 55” and “Monster You Made” drew a nice reaction from the crowd, it was the new single, “Trenches” that produced the loudest roar of the night. It was interesting to see that fans already knew the song. Judging from their reaction to the live performance, they loved it a lot.
If you haven’t had the chance to see Pop Evil in concert, now is definitely the time. They are still performing in clubs where you can get up close and personal with the band, but that is not going to last much longer. This band has positioned themselves for superstardom and it is only a matter of time before they are headlining arenas and we are complaining that we could only score tickets in the nosebleed section. Do yourself a favor and go see the band now, so you can say, “I saw them when…” They are worth every penny you spend on them.
Broken And Betrayed
100 In A 55
Goodbye My Friend
Last Man Standing
Monster You Made
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