Playing Ball

By on November 9, 2013


Leading Pop Evil since formed in 2001, Leigh Kakaty. Pop Evil’s “Trenches” won the 2013 Radio Contraband Rock Radio award for song of the year (photo Travis Failey / RSEN)

There are a lot of new bands in the rock/hard rock genre, but there are only a few that are establishing themselves as contenders with staying power. Pop Evil is one of these few.

Non-stop recording and touring for the last ten years, Pop Evil has been playing all the latest rock festivals and big shows across the country this year including the “Welcome to Rockville” event In Jacksonville and the “Fort Rock” event in Fort Myers.

With their latest release Onyx, which was produced by Grammy winner Johnny K., Pop Evil is playing to huge crowds and they scored their first National Rock Radio #1 single in “Trenches.”

Playing the annual 98 Rock Halloweenie Roast with a rookie act in Heavens Basement, (who were surprisingly awesome), and seasoned players in Bullet for My Valentine, Papa Roach, and the Hall of  Famer, Alice Cooper, Pop Evil put on a veteran performance.

Prior to Pop Evil hitting the stage, the faces of their fans pushed up against the rail held nothing but smiles and anticipation. A teenaged fan drummed up a conversation with me in regard to “Trenches” and the look on his face reminded me of myself and the feeling I still get from seeing my favorite new and old bands as either a fan or as a member of the media.

Chachi Riot on the drums (photo Travis Failey / RSEN)

Being very familiar with Pop Evil from their multiple performances in the radio studio locally with Bubba The Love Sponge and hearing their previous hits on Sirius XM’s Octane etc, I was looking forward to seeing them live for the first time.  They were always solid on Bubba’s show and I believe that he was a big help in promoting them in this area along with 98 Rock.

Speaking with the other photographers prior to their set, I was informed that Chaci Riot, (Pop Evil’s drummer since 2012), was an amazing player and great to photograph. They were correct on both fronts. Chaci Riot’s energy and artistic stick work will make you return to see him play even if you don’t care for the rest that the band has to offer.

Bassist Matt DiRito (photo Travis Failey / RSEN)

Opening with their recent single “Deal With The Devil” and going through an extended set due to the Black Veil Brides cancellation, Pop Evil proved that it deserves its positive reputation.

Charismatic frontman and founder of the band, Leigh Kakaty, stormed the stage with his bandmates and captivated the crowd throughout their performance. Going through their catalog of singles including “Bosses Daughter,” ” Hero & ” Monster You Made”, the band proved to me why they have attracted such a large audience.  The girls like the music and the guys that they are seeing on stage. The guys like the music and like watching the girls like the guys on the stage. It’s a perfect formula for record and ticket sales!


Dave Grahs (photo Travis Failey / RSEN)

Bass player Matt DiRito reminds me a lot of Peter Steele from Type O’ Negative with his gothic type looks and playing style. The ladies seem to like him a lot, just like Steele.

DiRito and the other two guitarists in the band, Nick Fuelling and Dave Grahs, were in perfect sync with one another even though Nick Fuelling has only been with the band since 2012.


Nick Fuelling (photo Travis Failey / RSEN)

The highlight of Pop Evil’s performance was the conclusion of their set, which included a trifecta of songs, two of their hits and a classic anthem. Starting it off with “Last Man Standing” they were priming the crowd for “Trenches” but the curve came when they broke out with the Survivor classic and Rocky III theme song “Eye of the Tiger.”  The younger crowd got it but the older crowd really appreciated it, especially the ones who weren’t familiar with their catalog. Closing their set out with “Trenches,” their biggest hit to date, Pop Evil provided everyone at this year’s 98 Rock Halloweenie Roast,  a memorable performance and proved that they belonged with the “big boys” that were coming up next.

Pop Evil has a perfect combination working for them right now. With a gift of hit writing skills, good looks and a live inner band chemistry that only a few bands attain, it will be interesting to see if Pop Evil can sustain and expand on the traction and success that they have achieved up to this date. If I was a gambling man, I’d place that bet.

DiRito belting out some vocals (center), Dave Grahs (left) & Nick Fuelling (right)
(Photo Travis Failey / RSEN)


Chachi Riot (photo Travis Failey / RSEN)

Pop Evil was founded by Leigh Kakaty in Grand Rapids, Michigan in 2001 (photo Travis Failey / RSEN)

Leigh Kakaty (photo Travis Failey / RSEN)

Chachi Riot (photo Travis Failey / RSEN)

Matt DiRito (photo Travis Failey / RSEN)


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