I have long been a proponent of small venues for shows wherever possible. I find the more intimate setting gives you a more connected feeling to the act. Of course it is not always practical to take that route, especially with bigger acts unfortunately, but when it is it’s a nice change of pace from the large theatre or stadium type shows.
Such was the case Thursday night in Saskatoon when Pop Evil rolled through town. I first saw these guys open for Stone Sour at the House of Blues in Las Vegas back in February 2014. At the time I wasn’t entirely familiar with them but they put on such a strong performance that, not only was I very impressed, but had Stone Sour not come with their A game that night, Pop would have stolen the show. And even though the House of Blues is a smaller theatre style venue, tonight’s establishment was much more intimate.
Welcome to Louis’ Pub on the campus of the University of Saskatchewan.
Excitement levels were high.
Due to a combination of our group’s overzealous thirst for pre-show drinks & maybe a bit of a lack of situational awareness, we arrived near the end of the first band’s set. The band was a local 3 piece act from Saskatoon called A Weekend Without You. It is too bad we couldn’t have caught a little more of their set cause the couple songs we did catch were pretty good. If memory serves me correctly they ended with a well done cover of Godsmack’s ‘Bad Religion’. Keep an eye out for these guys if you’re in the area.
The 2nd act out the door this evening was another local group. Going by the moniker of Despite the Reverence, this 4 piece instantly grabbed my attention and did not let it go for their entire crushing set! The singer would sometimes don a guitar and the guitarist would sometimes take over vocal duties depending on the song and the transition was always a seamless one. When it came time to throw down some leads the guitarist would aptly blaze away on the neck of his axe showing off skills I thought had definite hints of the late, great DImebag Darrell.
Now being a drummer & half-assed bassist myself this band’s rhythm section transfixed me from the opening notes of their set and did not relent. These guys are fuckin tight! There were moments where, had my eyes been closed, I would have thought Tool’s Justin Chancellor was actually playing in front of me! Between him and the drummer’s savage beating of the skins it’s actually amazing I took notes on the rest of the band!
This was one of those bands that had me headed straight to their merch booth at the conclusion of their set to acquire whatever material they had available to pour into my ears.
Instant fan. Check them out!
Our headliners tonight mounted the stage in a considerably low key fashion which far belied the high level of energy they immediately set forth with. Pop Evil hit hard and fast all night long to the pleasure of a packed house. Drummer Joshua Marunde seemed to be channelling is inner Shannon Larkin as he expertly flailed about his kit theatrically. A very skilled skinsman.
There were moments I thought I heard some distinct influences of Slash in lead guitarist Nick Fuelling’s playing……or maybe I was just that drunk.
Singer Leigh Kakaty’s vocals were on point all night, I don’t think he missed a note. I was fortunate enough to meet Leigh in a bar in Nashville back in March of this year. Super nice guy, was truly a pleasure. Also the frontman of this Michigan based unit is Canadian so he was pretty happy to meet a fellow Canadian that far south.
The entire band weaved together an incredibly solid set that made for a great night, one that culminated with rhythm guitarist Dave Grahs joining my friends and I back at buddy’s house for some post-show cocktails. Dave is also an incredibly nice guy who was very cool to chill with to wind down the evening.
To think that, due to a heavy session of drinking the night before, I almost jammed out on going this show. Could not be happier that I did not take that route.
In conclusion, excellent show with a lot of excellent music. If Pop Evil comes through your town I would highly recommend you check them out.
Here’s hoping Despite the Reverence attains the success they rightly deserve as well!