Pop Evil at The Phoenix, Toronto – Gig review

December 2, 2015

Pop Evil at the Phoenix, Toronto - photo Shaun Fitl, Music ViceWho: Pop Evil
Where: The Phoenix Concert Theatre, Toronto
When: 1 December
In one word: Supreme

Pop Evil delivered an excellent set at The Phoenix on Tuesday night and satisfied many Torontonians’ cravings for the darker side of hard rock.

What could be better than solos with that wah pedal that sounds like frequencies are exploding into a golden rainbow and that classic metal influenced power chord, driving atmosphere?

Not very much, to be honest.

Pop Evil is the kind of music that makes you want to become the king of the forest dual-wielding chainsaws.

It’s like hair metal came back from the old days with a buzz cut and a pension and drank from the fountain of youth and grew all its hair back in a matter of minutes.

Also the bass coming from Matt DiRito’s low-end battle-axe is so heavy it almost sounds like it is being routed through a distortion pedal. Or maybe it is being driven through a distortion pedal. Regardless the sound is supreme.

The lyrics are generally uplifting and, according to Pop Evil fan and Tuesday night birthday celebrator Aaron Brooks, comes from a place of darkness.

“They’ve been around for a while. Not too many people know this is their fifth album,” said Brooks.

“The reason why I got into them was… based off their lyrics,” said Brooks.

Pop Evil’s lyrical content is good enough that Brooks says the sound comes secondary.

“They (write) from such a place of darkness that it almost sounded like they have been to hell and back and that (is) really inspiring to me because I’ve walked a similar path and I just really related to the music… that’s why I’m here,” said Brooks, in between drags of a cigarette.

Aaron was hoping that Pop Evil would play “Purple” for him as a birthday present.

I had never heard the song before and he was reluctant to try to demonstrate “how it goes” for me so I never found out if he got a chance to get his Pop Evil birthday present.

The actual performance was intensely satisfying. The sound was large and flooding and took physical strength to withstand, as if I was standing waist-deep in the ocean during high tide.

Pop Evil’s stage presence is very impressive. They don’t shy away from the “power stance” that is well-known by stage performers and use lots of great techniques of physical expression to go along with the music that helps get the crowd going.

At one point Joshua Marunde, the band’s drummer, was standing upright and hitting the drums hard enough to break cymbals, which was awesome to watch.

And at some points Pop Evil guitarists Nick Fuelling and Dave Grahs played together in harmony to create that kind of colourful, badassery that makes you feel like a metal Viking.

But the star of the show was definitely vocalist Leigh Kakaty who held nothing back from the crowd and showed his strong side and powerful voice.

Besides all this talk about how intense the band is on stage, one of their tour employees at the merch tent who was acquainted with Pop Evil off stage told me that they are actually just a bunch of chilled-out, laid-back dudes who like rock and roll.Pop Evil merch

There’s nothing wrong with that. And at a Pop Evil show, it feels so right that you forget about the humanity behind these rock and roll heroes and feel like you want to conquer the universe one power chord at a time.

© Shaun Fitl, Music Vice

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