Pop Evil, The Word Alive and Avoid Elevation 27 Virginia Beach, VA (USA) 28/03

    Photos and Review by Michael Spencer


    There are bands that are a lot of fun to thrash to and some that are just fun to go see because you know it is going to be a quality production and entertaining show.  This was one of those nights.  The beach community was there is good for and ready to rock, and the night started with no fanfare with Avoid.  They hit the stage with no warning, even to the point that the house lights hadn’t even been turned down for the set. This was corrected pretty quickly.  Avoid hit the stage as 4-piece band, and hails from Seattle, WA, (USA), and originally started as a pop punk band, before eventually finding their niche in the harder nü-metal genre. They had an 8-song set that was the perfect setting for the night to come.

    Avoid is: 

    Benny Scholl / Vocals

    Nick Olson / Guitar

    Paul Jaton / Drums

    Chrispy / Guitar

    Their setlist was:

    1. Gator Fest
    2. Cowabunga
    3. Blast Off!
    4. Whatever
    5. Midnight Six
    6. Flashbang!
    7. Can’t Take This Away
    8. Song About James


    Next up on the bill was Phoenix, AZ (USA) based The Word Alive.  This four-member outfit has been around for 15 years having with only one member, guitarist Zack Hansen, as one of the founding members.  He and vocalist Telle Smith have been together 2008, joined by Jose DelRio on guitars and Daniel Nelson on Drums.  Their sound is often categorized as metalcore or post-hardcore and was the perfect warm up for the night.  It was also a nice surprise to see Telle joined on stage by Benny from Avoid and see them trade off vocals for a song.  They hit the with the energy we’ve come to expect from them, grabbing the attention of the entire crowd.


    The Word Alive is:

    Telle Smith / Vocals

    Zack Hansen / Guitar

    Daniel Nelson / Drums

    Jose DelRio / Guitar

    Their set consisted of:

    1. 2012
    2. Nocturnal Future
    3. Thank You
    4. No Way Out
    5. Overdose
    6. New Reality
    7. Life Cycles
    8. Why Am I Like This?
    9. Heartless (Kanye West cover)
    10. Trapped


    Next up was the band that everyone had come to see, Pop Evil, a band originating from North Muskegon, MI (USA).  Having formed in 2001, they played the Michigan club circuit for years before striking it big, with lead singer Leigh Kakaty and Dave Grahs being the only two original members from the original formation of the band.  They really are a guilty pleasure for even the die-hard metal fans.  Go ahead, admit it, when one of their songs pop up on your playlist, you know the words, you know the breaks in the song, and you sing along.  There’s nothing wrong with that, in fact, it’s encouraged.  Pop Evil released their 7th studio album on March 17th, and this tour is in support of that album.  The early release singles gave an indication of a heavier sound and this show proved that theory right.  Opening their set with Paranoid (Crash and Burn) showed that the crowd had listened to the album and were ready to sing along.  They followed this with 2013s Deal with the Devil and by this time the singalong began. But at this time, you can tell who has seen them live before and those who haven’t. We’ve all jockeyed for position on the rail to be in front of our favorite band member while they’re on stage.  And we’ve all ended up not quite where we wanted to be on the rail.  But at about this time, you really start to notice the risers and platforms on the stage.  And if the song has that sick bass line, well, bassist Joey “Chicago” Walser moves up to center stage and Leigh goes to the riser in the back.  And guitarists Dave Grahs and Nick Fuelling are swapping sides, in the back, all over the stage.  The only person who stays in the same place for the entire set, for obvious reasons, is drummer Hayley Cramer.  Having had the attention of the audience since the first note was played, they moved on thru their setlist with 2021’s Let the Chaos Reign followed by a couple more from Skeletons, Circles, and what has quickly become one of my favorites, Dead Reckoning. And then, the hits throughout their career start dropping; Be Legendary, Eye of the Storm and others, followed by a three-song encore (sing along) with Torn to Pieces, Trenches and closing out the night with Breathe Again.  Having seen them several times in the past and enjoying their studio offerings throughout the years, I’ve seen Pop Evil grow so much over the years.  Personal events in their lives have helped direct their music and vocals to where they are today: A well versed, tenured act that will make you forget about the challenges outside the venues doors and allow you to get lost in the music and realize this is what we work so hard to do, sing as loud as we want, pump out fist in the air, and be surrounded by like-minded individuals.  It’s a fun show, it’s a well thought out show.  It’s just really a fun time and one you’ll need to see to enjoy….

    Pop Evil is:

    Leigh Kakaty / Lead Vocals

    Haley Cramer / Drums

    Nick Fuelling / Guitar

    Davey Grahs / Guitar

    Joey Walser / Bass


    Set List: 

    1.) Paranoid (Crash & Burn)

    2.) Let the Chaos Reign

    3.) Deal With the Devil

    4.) Set Me Free

    5.) Worst in Me

    6.) Circles

    7.) Dead Reckoning

    8.) Fire Inside

    9.) Work

    10.) Eye of the Storm

    11.) Who Will We Become



    14.) Waking Lions


    15.) Torn to Pieces

    16.) Trenches

    17.) Breathe Again




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