WORDS AND PHOTOS BY MIKE SHALER | Go Venue Magazine
It was a made in Michigan kind of show as Pop Evil performed another sold-out concert at The Machine Shop in Flint, Michigan on September 30, 2018. With fellow Michigan bands Tripp ‘N’ Dixie and Avalon Black, it was a great night of homegrown rock and roll.
Tripp ‘N’ Dixie started off the show, getting the crowd loosened up with their jam style rock and roll. With excellent original songs like “Easily Forgotten”, which showcases lead singer Rozz Rosales vocal talent by giving goosebumps. Conner Williams on keyboards is always full of energy as he contains himself behind the ivory keys. Katelynn Corll was a spark plug on drums. Adam Cross is always the stoic guitar player but I’d catch a smirk here and there. Brian Richter on bass guitar laid down the groove and even got stylish with a hat that would make pimps proud. Filling in for the night on lead guitar was Sammy Boller of the band Citizen Zero, Sammy shines when he manipulates the strings of the guitar to whine and reverberate. Tripp ‘N’ Dixie is a collection of musicians who simply know how to play good tunes, which was evident as they closed out their set with a cover of Deep Purple’s “Highway Star”.
Up next was Avalon Black. These guys laid it down and rocked the house. Busting out the jams with songs like “Holy Water Hand Grenade”, “Uptown Funk” and “Through The Storm”. Jordan Orvis on lead vocals guided the audience through the night. With Kris Kress on guitar, Seth Thomas Adams on guitar, Taylor Vonbrockdorff on bass and Parker Moore on drums, Avalon Black brings style and swagger to the stage. Always fun to see them jam and witness the growing fan base as more and more people are singing along with their songs.
Pop Evil is a band that has risen in popularity quite a bit the past several years. Seems you hear a Pop Evil song not just on the radio but television commercials and sporting events. It’s been awesome to see the ascension Pop Evil has taken and seeing them live will make you understand why they sell out every time they perform at The Machine Shop. With songs like “Higher”, “Last Man Standing” and “Trenches”, Pop Evil has plenty of hit songs varying from soft mellow tunes to bone crunching heavy metal.
Lead singer Leigh Kakaty stopped the music for a bit to share some stories. He was upset about the Detroit Lions having lost a game earlier that day. But it didn’t sway him from proudly putting on a Lions jersey like he used to every night as a kid until the age of twelve. He then handed out two Lions jerseys to a couple members of the Pop Evil crew who work behind the scenes as a token of his appreciation.
Hayley Cramer on drums is the newest member of the group having joined in 2016 and quickly gelling with the fans with her charming smile and enthusiastic drumming. Dave Grahs on rhythm guitar and Nick Fuelling on lead guitar play off of one another with excellent precision. Matt DiRito is a dynamo on bass guitar with the long hair whipping around and piercing blue eyes. And an all-around good dude for all he does with his charity, Star Treatments, which if I may paraphrase the website, provides a VIP transportation experience to medical facilities for children battling cancer.
This is my first time I’ve gotten to cover a Pop Evil show but certainly not the first time I’ve seen them. And every time they perform they give the audience a dedicated performance for a night to remember. Michigan is full of talented musicians and bands that have reached various levels of success. But no matter how popular or unpopular they may be, there’s one thing in common, they all dedicate themselves to deliver great musical experiences and that is all that matters. Because all the audience cares about is enjoying a great rock show and these three bands gave just that.