“We all have skeletons,” explained Pop Evil frontman Leigh Kakaty. Regardless of your age, color, or creed, every person has this in common, and the group has centered on this theme for new album Skeletons and its eponymous tour that hit Tempe over the weekend. And it came to life in the Marquee Theatre, where an eclectic group of fans gathered to see the band, with support from Avoid and The Word Alive.
It was a hometown show for The Word Alive, whose origins are in Phoenix despite the high turnover for its members, and plenty of fans showed up specifically for them. Playing through a selection from the past decade, the four-piece hit on some favorites — “Overdose,” “Life Cycles,” and “Why Am I Like This?” — and led a singalong for new release “New Reality.” (Meanwhile, a few moshers attempted to start a pit, which sent other fans running to the back of the room.) The Word Alive then closed their set with a cover of “Heartless” followed by “Trapped,” and the stage changed over to reveal the headliner’s two-level setup.
Even before Pop Evil hit the stage, you could tell the main event would cater just as much to the eyes as to the ears — risers at the front of the stage, a separate level for the drum kit, and CO2 jets created a dynamic setting. And from the first notes of “Paranoid (Crash & Burn)” the group put on a show.
Over the course of an hour and a half, Pop Evil ripped through 17 songs, mostly from their latest two albums. “Let the Chaos Reign” and “Be Legendary” were some personal highlights, as were “Survivor” and “Skeletons.” The moshers returned a couple times during the main set and had some success, but the crowd was largely content to stand and watch. In fact, the fans were more engaged here than what you’d normally see at a show, and there was no pushing or shoving outside the mosh pit.
The main set was stellar, but the band saved its best for last with a four-song encore that featured “100 in a 55” fully acapella and a guest appearance by local multihyphenate Recker Eans on drums for “Trenches.” Closing with “Breathe Again,” the group showed its prowess one last time and departed as the fans — skeletons and all — roared in appreciation. It was an unmissable event, and we can’t wait for the next one.
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Story and photos by Taylor Knauf