Theory of a Deadman w/ Pop Evil, Aranda & Artifas

By on October 25, 2015

Tyler Connolly - Theory of a Deadman (Will Ogburn photo)

Tyler Connolly – Theory of a Deadman (Will Ogburn photo)

After covering concerts for a year and a half in Orlando, it’s a pretty big surprise that I haven’t found my way to the Beacham yet. Located in the heart of downtown, the Beacham is the best place to catch a show without having to go to Theme Park Land. If I was going to lose my Beacham V-card this late, it’s fitting that a band like Theory of a Deadman would be the reason.

Leigh Kakaty (left) and Chachi Riot - Pop Evil (Will Ogburn photo)

Leigh Kakaty (left) and Chachi Riot – Pop Evil (Will Ogburn photo)

The band is a rare case; one that has found consistent success while staying pretty close to their original sound. Though they started in 01’, I heard about them back in 08’ when the Canadian band invaded American airwaves with their first platinum record, Scars and Souvenirs. The album featured signature tracks such as “Bad Girlfriend,” “I Hate My Life,” and “So Happy” that have since made them world-renowned.

Scottie Sommerville - Artifas (Will Ogburn photo)

Scottie Sommerville – Artifas (Will Ogburn photo)

With We Are Harlot catching up with them later on in the tour, this leg features established hard rock bands Pop Evil and Aranda supporting, and the emerging act Artifas as an opener. The tour was in promotion of ToaD’s 2014 album Savages, but perfectly coincided with Pop Evil’s Up (August 21) and Aranda’s Not the Same (June 29). Dubbed “Theory of a Deadman Blows Tour,” the band also dropped the single “Blow” leading up to hitting the road.

Artifas

Scottie Sommerville - Artifas (Will Ogburn photo)

Scottie Sommerville – Artifas (Will Ogburn photo)

Bands like Artifas make you realize what live music is all about. The young group of friends from Memphis looked like they were really fun out there, like they were having the time of their lives.

Mikey Miller - Artifas (Will Ogburn photo)

Mikey Miller – Artifas (Will Ogburn photo)

Vocalist Scottie Somerville was drenched with sweat by the second song, dancing, kicking, and jumping into the crowd at different points in the set – always in motion. Drummer Jared Wainscott kept a cheerful smile behind his paint-marked cheeks as he hammered away. Lead guitarist Cody Criswell flipped his locks like a shredder of yesteryear, his stage presence developing a confidence of it’s own. And then there was Mikey Miller, the guy with blue hair. Overall, they’re and interesting bunch.

Jared Wainscott - Artifas (Will Ogburn photo)

Jared Wainscott – Artifas (Will Ogburn photo)

Anthony Mattox (left0 and Mikey Miller - Artifas (Will Ogburn photo)

Anthony Mattox (left0 and Mikey Miller – Artifas (Will Ogburn photo)

Their lead single is “Inhuman,” and it shares a name with their debut album. By the time they got around to it, the crowd was really feeling them. Somerville started with energy, and it actually escalated as the set went on – endearing the boys from out of town to the door buster crowd in Orlando.

Overall: Artifas showed out like few openers have, combining a few established stage moves with a style of their own. Going to shows early will sometimes reward you with gems like these guys, and hopefully they will continue to generate a positive buzz.

Scottie Sommerville - Artifas (Will Ogburn photo)

Scottie Sommerville – Artifas (Will Ogburn photo)

Aranda

Gabe Aranda - Aranda (Will Ogburn photo)

Gabe Aranda – Aranda (Will Ogburn photo)

In every band, one member instinctively draws your attention. For most, it’s the lead singer – the archetypal poster boy who is the freest to dance, strut, or…hold a sparkler, for instance, while on stage. For Aranda, this would be normally be frontman Dameon Aranda, but his brother Gabe is an absolute machine on stage. More on that later…

Aranda came out to “Not the Same” a song with a natural guitar-based rhythm that makes you rock your head. Dameon’s powerful vocals were complimented with Gabe’s melodic, then intense chords. Dameon jerked back and forth across the stage, resembling some intense, hard rock version of skanking, before settling into a headbang next to bassist B Webb.

The next highlight came at their recent album’s title track, “We Are the Enemy”. The song showcases a more diverse vocal range from Dameon, with higher pitches and a more rapid delivery. It also let drummer Mike Walker truly control the pace, making the track jump tempos over and over again, as well as implementing shakers and other quirks with the beat. The song also features a sweet solo by Gabe, and a fun chorus that’s easy to sing.

Mike Walker - Aranda (Will Ogburn photo)

Mike Walker – Aranda (Will Ogburn photo)

Speaking of choruses that get stuck in your head, next up was “Stand”. This track feels like more of a rally than song, with Dameon leading the crowd in chants left and right. The verses are rapid, with every other word falling on a hard drumbeat, while the choruses are energetic and repetitive – so much so that everyone was on board. This song seems simple, but as a rocker it helps to have something like this in your arsenal to get the crowd on their feet.

Gabe Aranda - Aranda (Will Ogburn photo)

Gabe Aranda – Aranda (Will Ogburn photo)

The final song of the night was by far the best. “Whyyawannabringmedown,” their signature track, has been used as the theme for WWE’s The Bash and covered by Kelly Clarkson (weird, right?). It started off just like any other fast-paced track, but then it quickly became one of the coolest stage shows I’ve seen.

It started with Gabe’s guitar solo – the sickest of the night so far. After he was done, he offered it to Dameon like a gift. Dameon then became the sword bearer and outstretched his hands, allowing Gabe to continue his shredding with a brotherly assist. Stopping there would’ve been cool, and more than most bands do, but then Gabe took it up a notch. He walked back over to his own microphone empty handed, waiting for that applause to subside. He then took one of his boots off and simply yelled, “Are you ready for…DAS BOOOOOOT?!” The crowd wasn’t sure what to do, so they applauded. Gabe ran back over to his brother, boot in hand, and picked up where he left off – using the boot like a massive pick. This spectacle was equal parts hilarious and amazing, and is one of the most intriguing things I’ve ever seen out of a guitarist.

Mike Walker(back) - Aranda (Will Ogburn photo)

Mike Walker (drums), Gabe Aranda and Dameon Aranda (seated) – Aranda (Will Ogburn photo)

Overall: Aranda knows what they’re good at: being a fun, lively band that puts on a good show. From their setlist and song catalogue, you can also tell that they like to experiment – that they have more to offer than just catchy choruses and sweet solos. This overall talented group is finally getting the attention they deserve, and that’s perfectly fine by me.

Mike Walker (drums), Gabe Aranda and Dameon Aranda (seated) - Aranda (Will Ogburn photo)

Mike Walker (drums), Gabe Aranda and Dameon Aranda (seated) – Aranda (Will Ogburn photo)

Pop Evil

Dave Grahs - Pop Evil (Will Ogburn photo)

Dave Grahs – Pop Evil (Will Ogburn photo)

“What exactly is Pop Evil?” I kept asking myself as I researched for the show. They seemed to be lacking the kind of X-factor that makes a band stand out. I like to talk to people, especially about why they like the music they like, and I kept getting the same answer about Pop Evil. “If you have any doubts…watch their drummer. Guy’s an animal.” “Dude, have you seen them live? That drummer is nuts!”

Pop Evil opened with “Ways to Get High,” but I’m gonna skip that because they did something truly awesome shortly thereafter. After two songs that were decent, but kind of meh (“Take it All” being the other), they completely changed the script.

Leigh Kakaty (left) and Chachi Riot - Pop Evil (Will Ogburn photo)

Leigh Kakaty (left) and Chachi Riot – Pop Evil (Will Ogburn photo)

“You guys like Tom Petty?” lead singer Leigh Kakaty asked with a grin. “Let’s get our friends from Aranda to help us with this one!” What proceeded was an onslaught of rock and roll that may have topped Das Boot. The Arandas appeared from backstage, and Dameon and Kakaty broke into Petty’s “Won’t Back Down”. Gabe Aranda embraced Pop Evil’s guitarist, Dave Grahs, and then started to pump up the crowd as Grahs hit a solo. Meanwhile, the trio of Kakaty, Dameon, and rhythm guitarist Nick Fuelling started headbanging together at the other end of the stage. This was a great move for fans of all ages; the song is both catchy and classic. With the personalities in both bands, and the capacity crowd already hyped up, they made the song their own.

Leigh Kakaty (right) and Matt DiRito - Pop Evil (Will Ogburn photo)

Leigh Kakaty (right) and Matt DiRito – Pop Evil (Will Ogburn photo)

After that, the crowd was eating out of their hands. They sent the brothers backstage and soon transitioned into a hit off their last album (UP), “Ghosts of Muskegon”. The song references the band’s hometown, and features a hypnotic drumbeat throughout. Fans loved it – mimicking the beat with their heads and their hands. The song’s themes are astral and distant, but the catchy chorus brings it back to earth.

Now Pop Evil was on a roll. Next up was their most popular hit “Torn to Pieces”. The emotional ballad claimed the #1 spot on the Billboard Mainstream Rock charts last year, and many in the crowd knew it by heart. The packed house swayed back and forth in unison. By following the Petty song with “Ghosts of Muskegon” and then this track – they had completely changed the tone of the show. A couple of the people I talked to hit me with that “I told you so” look as I passed them on my way to the balcony.

(L-R) Dave Grahs, Matt DiRito, Leigh Kakaty and Chachi Riot - Pop Evil (Will Ogburn photo)

(L-R) Dave Grahs, Matt DiRito, Leigh Kakaty and Chachi Riot – Pop Evil (Will Ogburn photo)

It was from there that I was able to settle in and take notice of the other thing I’d been told: drummer Chachi Riot. The next track in this streak that they seemed to be hitting was the biggest single off of UP, “Footsteps”. The drumbeat was simple, but Chachi just absolutely beat the hell out of it. Every beat, he did something new, a wild face, throwing a stick in the air, pointing at the crowd while keeping the beat with one hand. Again, I hadn’t been lied to – he was the most involved drummer I’ve ever seen live, my eyes were instantly drawn to him. The energy that exuded from Chachi, as well as the multitude of hooks and the catchy little “woo-oooo” in this song made it a highlight for sure.

Leigh Kakaty (left) and Matt DiRito - Pop Evil (Will Ogburn photo)

Leigh Kakaty (left) and Matt DiRito – Pop Evil (Will Ogburn photo)

Next up came “Deal with the Devil.” This song again displayed Pop Evil’s talent for writing hooks and choruses. The song has several parts that get stuck in your head, and a solid guitar solo to top it off. When the chorus says, “I took the pills, I’ve been consumed, I drank the water, I had to choose”, the whole banded acted out taking pills and chugging a glass of water. This was probably the second most interesting song of the set because of all the different components combined with the band’s energy and the crowd’s involvement.

Pop Evil crowd (Will Ogburn photo)

Pop Evil crowd (Will Ogburn photo)

Overall: Pop Evil surprised me. I’ve never been that deep into my perception of a band, and then have them change it a few songs into their set. By and large, Pop Evil makes great workout music, but they dabble in self-reflection, addiction, and personal stories while still making it sounds good. Their stuff songs good recorded, but to feel the full effect of what they do, you must see them live.

Theory of a Deadman

Tyler Connolly - Theory of a Deadman (Will Ogburn photo)

Tyler Connolly – Theory of a Deadman (Will Ogburn photo)

ToaD is one of those bands that sneaks up on you. You hear they’re coming to town, and break open their catalogue to discover that they have many more good songs than you remember. Earlier I said I jumped on the bandwagon when most people did back in 08’, but that was seven years into the band’s history of great music. At the Beacham, that whole catalogue was on display; the played new songs, old songs, covers, anything a fan could possibly want.

Joey Dandeneau - Theory of a Deadman (Will Ogburn photo)

Joey Dandeneau – Theory of a Deadman (Will Ogburn photo)

The first thing that caught me as I waited in the photo pit was the mic stand – a shotgun perched on a military gas can base. Before I could process what I thought was going to happen, the voice came on over the speakers. I thought it was some kind of a show tune at first, then the crowd burst into laughter as we all discovered it was “Blame Canada!” from the South Park movie. I was cracking up at the sheer randomness of it.

Dean Beck - Theory of a Deadman (Will Ogburn photo)

Dean Beck – Theory of a Deadman (Will Ogburn photo)

Tyler Connolly and company burst onto the stage like heroes returning from war. The crowd was already going crazy before a note was played.

They took it to the next level by opening with “Lowlife” a huge hit many knew by heart. For a band of Canadians, they use a ton of themes from American country music. This song is like a redneck national anthem, meant to be played in trailer parks and at NASCAR races around the country. Equal parts funny and badass, this song is right up Theory of a Deadman’s alley.

Next up was another fan favorite, “Bitch Came Back.” We’ve all had that one crazy girl – be it an ex, or an admirer – that just won’t go away. As studly as we might be, guys in bands have it a lot worse when it comes to crazy girls. The song starts off slow, cuts in with an intense guitar block, and somehow also incorporates horns. It’s fun, relatable, and easy to sing along to – a great choice early in the set.

Tyler Connolly - Theory of a Deadman (Will Ogburn photo)

Tyler Connolly – Theory of a Deadman (Will Ogburn photo)

Theory of a Deadman continued to spoil the crowd by adding another hit into the first three songs with “So Happy.” Another relatable song about a not-so-common topic, it’s a happy breakup song. Free is a good place to be in life, and if someone is holding you down, sometimes you just gotta throw them out.

Theory of a Deadman crowd (Will Ogburn photo)

Theory of a Deadman crowd (Will Ogburn photo)

In contrast to the first three, the band wasn’t super active on stage. I would describe them more as personable, with frontman Chris Connolly talking to the audience and telling stories. One such story was about how he and his friends used to sit around, listen to Zeppelin, and think about the world. He said that we all have that one song that speaks to us, and he’s happy that some people have told him the next song was their favorite of all time.

That song was “Santa Monica,” a song that oozes emotion – particularly sadness. In the song, a guy comes home from work to find that his girlfriend has left him and gone to Santa Monica. He’s left to cope with all of the memories of the past and what he could’ve done differently. I love songs with a story, and the crowd loved this one in particular. As Connolly strummed on his acoustic guitar, the Beacham went from hype to teary-eyed in only a few minutes.

Dave Brenner - Theory of a Deadman (Will Ogburn photo)

Dave Brenner – Theory of a Deadman (Will Ogburn photo)

So far I’ve only talked about Chris Connolly, and that’s simply because guitarist Dave Brenner and bassist Dean Back are essentially just chill dudes – they really don’t do anything crazy or wild onstage. The same could not be said for drummer Joey Dandeneau, who was about to rock the Beacham with a thunderous drum solo. A flash of stage lights exploded onto his drum set as he began to lay the lumber, the faster he got, the more intense the light show. This was the kind of thing you love to see at a show, a solo so long and intense that the crowd is just marveling at it.

Theory of a Deadman (Will Ogburn photo)

Shotgun Mic! Theory of a Deadman (Will Ogburn photo)

The next highlight on a night full of them was the title tack and lead single off of their recent album Savages. The recorded version features Alice Cooper, but obviously he didn’t make the trip, so we were left with Chris Connolly and some deep lyrics. The song talks about the mistakes that we’ve made as a society – that no matter how modern we become, we’re all still savages on the inside.

They moved down the setlist to the soft and contemplative track “Angel.” I noticed from the balcony that the female crowd absolutely loved this song. Girls were either singing it to their boyfriends, husbands, or just in their own little bubble.

Next up was fan favorite “Hate My Life.” This song appeals to be people at one of our most basic levels. Even when you’re famous, there comes a time when you’re just fed up with the BS of the world. The song is a funny, very un-politically correct look at the things that make us mad on the daily. People ate it up, and the Beacham went crazy.

Tyler Connolly - Theory of a Deadman (Will Ogburn photo)

Tyler Connolly – Theory of a Deadman (Will Ogburn photo)

The lights went down but the applause never stopped, as the Orlando crowd wanted a little more out of the friends from the Great White North. They took the stage again with something more southern, as Connolly strummed the intro to “Sweet Home Alabama.” He made a little impromptu song called “Sweet Home Florida,” where he talked about some of his favorite things about the state. Then the tattooed frontman transitioned into “Paradise City” by Guns N Roses. It was a nice way to start the encore after staying pretty conventional through most of the set.

Tyler Connolly - Theory of a Deadman (Will Ogburn photo)

Tyler Connolly – Theory of a Deadman (Will Ogburn photo)

Even casual fans of Theory of a Deadman went crazy when they heard the intro riff of the next song. “My girlfriend’s a di-ck magnet, my girlfriend, gotta have it,” said Connolly with a smirk on his face. The song was “Bad Girlfriend”, the band’s biggest hit. The whole house seemed to bounce as the night came to it’s climax, people were dancing, yelling and generally partying all across the Beacham.

Overview: Theory of a Deadman is a fun band that lets you turn off your brain and enjoy the show for a night. Many of their most popular songs focus on our most primal desires like sex, fame, and money. Though they’re not winning any Pulitzer prizes for writing, many of their songs are creative, catchy, and give them a unique sound that they have stuck with since day one. Their stage presence left something to be desired, but the personality of their frontman brought more to the table than just the music.

Tyler Connolly - Theory of a Deadman (Will Ogburn photo)

Tyler Connolly – Theory of a Deadman (Will Ogburn photo)

 

 Chachi Riot - Pop Evil (Will Ogburn photo)

Chachi Riot – Pop Evil (Will Ogburn photo)

 

Mike Walker (drums), Gabe Aranda - Aranda (Will Ogburn photo)

Mike Walker (drums), Gabe Aranda – Aranda (Will Ogburn photo)

 

Mikey Miller - Artifas (Will Ogburn photo)

Mikey Miller – Artifas (Will Ogburn photo)

 

Chachi Riot - Pop Evil (Will Ogburn photo)

Chachi Riot – Pop Evil (Will Ogburn photo)

 

Dameon Aranda & Brine Webb - Aranda (Will Ogburn photo)

Dameon Aranda & Brine Webb – Aranda (Will Ogburn photo)

 

Gabe (left) and Dameon Aranda - Mike Walker drums (Will Ogburn photo)

Gabe (left) and Dameon Aranda – Mike Walker drums (Will Ogburn photo)

 

Cody Criswell - Artifas (Will Ogburn photo)

Cody Criswell – Artifas (Will Ogburn photo)

 

Dameon Aranda - Aranda (Will Ogburn photo)

Dameon Aranda – Aranda (Will Ogburn photo)

 

Matt DiRito (left) and Nick Fuelling - Pop Evil (Will Ogburn photo)

Matt DiRito (left) and Nick Fuelling – Pop Evil (Will Ogburn photo)

 

Leigh Kakaty (left), Matt DiRito (center) and Nick Fuelling- Pop Evil (Will Ogburn photo)

Leigh Kakaty (left), Matt DiRito (center) and Nick Fuelling- Pop Evil (Will Ogburn photo)

 

Mikey Miller - Artifas (Will Ogburn photo)

Mikey Miller – Artifas (Will Ogburn photo)

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