What happens behind the scenes after the tour bus breaks down...
Photos and Review by Laura Fox (LLFoxphotos)
I’ve been a Pop Evil fan for as long as I can remember, and I’ve seen them live multiple times. No matter the size of the venue, they always give it their all, putting on a killer show. Saturday night I got to see first-hand just what true professionals this band, and their crew, really are.
I was supposed to meet up with the tour manager to get my credentials when I got to Waterfront Park in Louisville, but when I arrived, I found out the band’s bus had broken down and they were running a few hours late. It wasn’t just the band, though – it was EVERYTHING: road crew, instruments, gear, the whole shebang. I get anxious when I’m late to a meeting; I couldn’t even imagine how stressful it would be to show up late for a gig. And this wasn’t just another stop on Pop Evil’s “Versatile” headlining tour; it was a special engagement in support of Shinedown.
When the bus finally made it, I half-expected to see a bunch of people running around, tearing out their hair and barking orders. Instead, I saw a well-oiled machine spring into action. As the band got ready, the techs got everything unloaded, plugged in, set up, and tuned in an amazing 1.5 hours. A big chunk of that time was during opener Zero 9:36’s set, so they had to be extra stealthy. They were quietly efficient, and although the sweat was pouring off them, they kept their cool, somehow. Pop Evil was so confident in their crew they took the stage without even doing a sound check! I’m pleased to report the whole show went off without a hitch. (Or if there was a hitch, nobody noticed it!)
To watch Pop Evil perform, you wouldn’t have guessed they had a care in the world. They were completely focused on their performance, as well as making sure the fans had a great time. They came out banging with “Deal with the Devil,” then introduced their latest single, “Survivor,” which is an especially appropriate song for the times. The seven-song set also included other favorite tunes from their discography, ending with the inspirational “Waking Lions.” Frontman Leigh Kakaty’s energy and positivity were contagious as he urged the crowd to its feet and had them sing along. Blake Allison of Devour the Day, and Zero 9:36 (AKA Matthew Cullen) made surprise appearances during “Trenches,” amping the energy even more.
I was wondering how cohesive the Pop Evil would be, since they’ve only had a few shows together with drummer Hayley Cramer (who had been locked down in England until the end of July), and their new tour bassist, Joey “Chicago” Walser of Devour the Day. They seemed pretty tight to me, and my thoughts were confirmed by guitarists Davey Grahs and Nick Fuelling, who said that they felt like they’ve really come together as a band now.
After the show, all the Pop Evil members expressed their gratitude to their crew, giving them well-deserved high-fives and kudos. Between the grueling schedules, sacrifices, and physical demands, you have to really love what you do to be a Survivor on tour, and Pop Evil’s members and crew clearly do. They’ll be on tour all over the US through October 8 - if you get a chance to see them live, jump on it!