Pop Evil’s Rock ‘N’ Roll Now Tour: Right Now headlining tour made a stop at House of Blues in Chicago. Determined to continue waving the Rock ‘N’ Roll flag, Pop Evil’s approximate hour and a half set was full of fan favorites, an intense light show, and enough energy to keep fans pumped up for hours after the show was over.
The night started out with Badflower, a band from Los Angeles, who have nothing to lose and everything to gain and continued with direct support from Akron, Ohio’s Red Sun Rising, who played an energetic set that left people wanting more.
Pop Evil’s set started with lead singer Leigh Kakaty appearing on the landing behind the drum riser. After standing still for a moment, he walked over to a graffiti sign hanging on a chain link fence that read Rock N Roll and proceeded to take a spray paint can and write the letters N, O, W over the top of the words. Leigh grabbed his mic stand, with a large flag attached, and started waving it around. As the band took the stage and started playing, Leigh made his way down front before firmly planting the stand near the edge of the stage. Their hour and a half long set started with the highly explosive Trenches from their 2013 release, Onyx, which included a few fog plumes going off across the front of the stage. The band continued the fast-paced momentum with Last Man Standing which included a surprise portion of Survivor’s Eye of the Tiger at the end of the song.
All during the night, bassist Matt DiRito, who constantly moved around the stage, including the second level risers, played with his usual intensity including constant head-banging. Ways To Get High, the first of many songs from 2015’s Up album, started with those familiar, funky opening bass notes by DiRito and colorful, trippy looking lighting swirling along the backdrop of the stage. Immediately the song made you want to move and the crowd reacted in the same way.
A quieter moment in the night came early on with Torn To Pieces. As Leigh sang the chorus, you could feel the emotion pouring out of him. They picked up the pace again with Sick Sense and Boss’s Daughter, two upbeat songs that had both the band and the crowd enjoying the performance. So far, the night was a great showcase for the mad playing from new drummer Hayley Cramer. She was focused and intense. Before Silence and Scars, Leigh told the crowd it was his favorite Pop Evil song at the moment. They continued to elevate the mood of the night once again with Deal With The Devil and heavy-hitter, Vendetta.
Guitarists Nick Fuelling, who had one of the largest pedal boards I’ve seen in a long while, and Davey Grahs are a key part of the band. While both were mostly stuck in front of their mics due to often pulling double-duty with backing vocals, their massive playing skills could be heard weaving in and out of every song played that night. A two-guitar band can often have a single focus on one guitarist over the other, but Nick and Davey complimented each other in all the best ways.
Again, Leigh spoke to the crowd and asked where the old school fans were. After some cheers from the crowd, they played Monster You Made from their 2011 release, War of Angels. They slowed it down again for If Only For Now, the latest single from Up. Leigh announced the song was about appreciating the person you were with at that very moment and based on the crowd reaction up to this point in the night, everyone was definitely enjoying sharing the night with friends and with the band.
While the set was heavy on songs from both Up and Onyx, they took it all the way back to 2008’s Lipstick On the Mirror with Hero and 100 In 55, that featured Leigh on acoustic guitar. The band left the stage for a couple minutes and only Leigh and Hayley returned to the stage. Both stood on the on the second riser. Leigh with a mic and Hayley behind a keyboard. Together, they played an impassioned version of Beautiful, “You’re beautiful, you’re beautiful to me.”
The band came back out and they ended the set with two more songs from Up. After an incredibly uplifting version of Footsteps, the band left the stage and Leigh walked into the crowd and asked everyone squat down. He joked that they were going to take the most awesome, dumbest picture in rock. While everyone was crouched down low, he stood in the middle of the floor. He asked everyone to face the stage and to keep their hands down to avoid blocking someone’s face. On three, he told everyone to cheese smile. He then mentioned he wanted to do the song, Footsteps, the way it was written. He started singing, “I’ll find you, so far away,” and the crowd joined in for a few repetitions before continuing with the next few lines, all along, the crowd singing loudly with him.
I feel like waking up
I’ve had this dream before
I’ll take these footsteps
Go higher, go higher
I’ve walked an empty mile
Wore down this lonely soul
I’ll take these footsteps
Go higher, go higher
Leigh told everyone there was no greater feeling in the world, especially in this [music] business, than when your fans sing your songs back to you. The crowd erupted in applause. It was a great moment connecting with the fans. As he made his way back to the stage, the band started the last song of the night, Take It All, which also included band introductions. Each member played a little bit of their instrument after Leigh stated their name and where they were from. Once he introduced Hayley, who was from London, England, he commented that she was the best female rock drummer. As she played, all the guys in the band formed a semi-circle facing her and bowed down in honor. They played out the rest of the song and the night came to an end.
Pop Evil have been performing and writing music for a long time now. Their headlining performance that night at House of Blues was every bit earned and demonstrated how hard work pays off in the end, not to mention, Pop Evil and their fans were definitely living in the moment.
Find the remaining tour dates here.