Words by Tracey Moyle.
Photos by Elizabeth Sharpe – Ummagummamumma – Live Music Photography.
Sunday night at The Zoo in Brisbane, the crowd is slowly building and you can feel that edge of excitement for tonight’s Pop Evil final Australian gig. As everyone here knows, this will be a night to remember.
Pop Evil; a rock powerhouse from Minnesota USA, have a strong following around the U.S., Canada and Europe usually drawing thousands of fans to shows however are yet to build a strong following here. I doubt this will take very long with such a brilliant attitude toward their music, their fans and the powerful sound these guys produce when they hit the stage. Their fan base out tonight know they are in for something special, not only with the impending massive performance with so many big hitters, but also the intimacy of the gig, with the band in an ‘up close and personal’ setting that the fans may never experience again.
First support of the night Brisbane band Patient Lounge (formerly Therapist) kick things off with a stack of good energy opening the set with The Ocean from their ’Therapist’ ep. A track that slowly builds the momentum challenging any fans of Prog Rock to not stop and listen. The crowd lingering behind the curtain were slowly drawn in to listen closer as frontman Zach Eather’s unique vocal sound filled the room. Next up, Useless, a song blending sounds of funk, rock and jazz with prominent bass demanding attention. By now everyone was listening intently.
Their up coming single All You Want was next, again showing a mellow jazz/rock style that sets this band apart from anyone else. They finished their set with the almost classic progressive rock sounding Visions. The grasp this band has on crossing genres and blending them to create something uniquely theirs is proof that the immense talent we have in Brisbane is something that needs to be shouted about.
After a short break Sydney band Bad Moon Born took the stage, showing the building crowd again what Australia has to offer. If you weren’t already in the mood to rock then Bad Moon Born were about to change that.
Opening their set strong with more than a hint of Myles Kennedy lingering in the background front man Frank Lakoudis’ vocals immediately wake you up and demand you listen. Any stragglers at the bar soon made their way in.
As soon as the boys broke into Alive off their latest ‘War is One’ EP, anyone who was previously half asleep was now fully awake. The mellow rock vibes followed by the strong chorus showcased the true talent and power of Lakoudis’ vocals. Next was Carry On with its real classic rock feel bringing to mind bands like Skid Row and Alter Bridge.
Next into the heavier War Is One preparing the fans for the main act. The pure rock vibes Bad Moon Born were punching out to the crowd were well received. Going into a cover of Motley Crue’s Dr Feelgood just ramped up the energy even more. They followed this with the brilliant Face to Face off the new album with Nick Allen on bass standing out amongst it all. Into Witch Trials another track off ‘War Is One’ with John Ezilmez Drums coming through with dominance and Ned Koncar and Voya Miluinovi keeping up on guitars.
Ending their set with Promised Land off their ‘Chemical Lullabies’ EP they finished a solid set with Lakoudis showing vocal skills in the realm of Kennedy and even a hint of the late great Chris Cornell dare I say it. Might be the first I’ve seen these guys but won’t be the last by a long mile.
Finally the time has arrived for Pop Evil to hit the stage. Casually walking on to a roar from the crowd the band set up and start playing, building up the momentum. A few seconds later front man Leigh Kakaty bounds on stage ready to rock the room opening with hard hitting old school rock song sound of Boss’ Daughter, off their second album ‘War of Angels’, a song they recorded featuring legendary Motley Crue guitarist Mick Mars. The crowd were right into it from the start.
From there straight into the empowering Colours Bleed off their latest self titled album. Hayley Cramer owns the drums on this, hammering out the beat like gun fire. After a quick trip off stage Kakaty returns with the powerful Ex-Machina, working the fans into a mosh frenzy, and finishing the song with a short burst of Drowning Pools, Bodies. Kakaty (admittedly looking a little tired) went into thanking the crowd for being there, making a point of how grateful they were to be on their first Australian tour and building a solid following here. He then explained the struggles they were all having with jet lag for such a short trip, 4 gigs in five days then back to the US in the morning. The crowd just shouted encouragement and the adoration for this band was evident. Especially to the band themselves.
Taking it down a notch next was the slower heartfelt Torn to Pieces from their popular 2013 album Onyx. A great reprise from the energy from the night so far. But this didn’t last long with the band breaking in to the high-powered, fast paced, Last man Standing. A song often used in promos for NASCAR in the U.S., with good reason.
Ways to Get High from 2015’s ‘UP’ kept everyone moving. A Crime to Remember took the pace down again. A song with a social message to stop the hate in the world and promote unity, you could definitely feel the unity of the crowd at that point in the night.
Finishing off big with their massive hits Footsteps and Take It All, again from the ‘UP’ album, the fans knew it was almost time and everyone was on a musical high. Leaving the stage for a quick break the crowd knew there was more to come and were demanding “5 more songs, 5 more songs”.
Back on, starting off with the beautiful 100 in a 55, from their 2008 debut ‘Lipstick on the Mirror’, they brought the fans together in a sing-a-long with Kakaty taking lead. Then promising, if they sing the next song as loud as f**k, there will be another, they launch into the popular Waking Lions; and yes it was loud.
They finished off the night with the absolutely brilliant, Trenches and left everyone feeling like, despite the smallish crowd, they had been to a massive Rock Show. Kakaty was so grateful to everyone for being there he promised to come out and talk to the fans after the show. Which, after a good half hour, he and guitarist Dave Grahs did. They spent the time actually chatting, getting photos and giving their fans something they will always remember, ‘their’ adoration of ‘them’.
Pop Evil bring back the essence of true rock n roll. They remind us of where it all came from and what it actually means. Remember when rock ‘n roll was fun? Pop Evil remembers.
I am so glad I am one of the lucky ones able to say, “Yeah I saw them when they played at The Zoo, man, can you believe that!?”.