review and photos by Pam Whisenhunt

The Versatile Tour stopped into the Bourbon Theatre, Lincoln Nebraska on August 3rd, 2021.  To my excitement, this leg included Zero 9:36 and Brkn Love.  Pop Evil, originating from Michigan, is well known for their blue collar roots, relatable music and positive influence.  It was apparent they feed off small intimate venues.  Leigh Kakaty even stated “these are our favorite kinda shows”, “we like these more”.

Starting the night, Canada’s Brkn Love easily got the crowd movin’ with their big energy, thick guitars and riffy numbers.   The set included their biggest songs “Crush”, “I Can’t Lie”, “Papercuts”, “Flies In the Honey” and “Shot Down”. They bumped up the crowd’s energy one more notch when they broke out “War Pigs” (Black Sabbath Cover) with guitarist Kyle Duke taking over lead vocals.

Newcomer Zero 9:36, hailing from Philadelphia hit the stage next with his rock-rap style.  After a short rap intro, Zero got the crowd jumpin’ with the banger  “The End”.  Zero worked through his catalog ending with his hit “Adrenaline”.

Pop Evil entertained the crowd with a full line up of hits.  The band chose to open their set heavy with “Deal with the Devil ” and “Let the Chaos Reign”.  They also worked in slower songs “Hero”, “Survivor” and an acoustic version of “Monster You Made”.  Pop Evil drew on its connection with the audience through popular relatable songs like “Footsteps”, “Torn to Pieces”, “Work” and “Trenches”.

Midway through the set, Pop Evil covered Metallica’s “For Whom The Bell Tolls”. Justin Benlolo of Brkn Love entered the stage and nailed the vocals.
Pop Evil frontman Leigh Kakaty introduced the band members.  Kakaty referred to Davey Grahs (rhythm guitar) as his cousin.  Fairly certain that it’s a term of endearment, but Grahs has been with the band for over 20 years.  Nick Fuelling (lead guitar) was working at Best Buy when a buddy referred him to Kakaty.  His buddy told him he could learn the whole Pop Evil catalog in 24 hours and the rest was history.  Joey “Chicago” “Devour the Day” Walser (bass) was an original member of Egypt Central and actually toured with Pop Evil in 2007 .

Lastly, “The Queen” Hayley Cramer (drums) has been in London England for the past two years due to COVID restrictions. She had no time to rehearse with the band. This show was only her fourth back and she didn’t miss a beat.  Kakaty segwayed into “100 in a 55” and stated it was written about “what truly matters, rock n roll and family”.

Pop Evil had plenty of surprises. Kakaty showed love for the kids;  he praised the parents in the audience for raising the next generation of rockers. After realizing one of the kids in the audience was celebrating his birthday, Kakaty brought him on stage. The band autographed his birthday sign and he stayed on stage to help sing “Trenches”.  “Trenches” ended up being a group effort as Blake Allison of Devour the Day started off on vocals. Benlolo and Zero joined as well.  The final surprise was Kakaty singing a little acoustic piece of “Purple” to fulfill a fan request; a song they claim has been retired.  Pop Evil ended heavy with the finale “Waking Lions”. This was not Pop Evil’s first time to The Bourbon Theatre and they were welcomed by an enthusiastic crowd that enjoyed every song the band played. A very solid line up for the night and definitely a show you want to catch.
“Peace, Love, Pop Evil” – Leigh Kakaty

Check out more photos of the show.

Pop Evil:


Zero 9:36:

(all photos by Pam Whisenhunt)

Here are the remaining tour dates so you can catch one of these shows.

Aug. 7 – Louisville, Ky. @ Waterfront Park &
Aug. 8 – Evansville, Ind. @ Marina Point ^
Aug. 10 – Kettering, Ohio @ Fraze Pavilion &
Aug. 11 – Camdenton, Mo. @ Ozark Amp &
Aug. 13 – Madison, Wis. @ The Sylvee
Aug. 14 – Sioux City, Iowa @ Hard Rock Battery Park &
Aug. 15 – Denver, Colo. @ Oriental Theater #
Aug. 18 – Fargo, N.D. @ Sanctuary Events Center #
Aug. 20 – Joliet, Ill. @ The Forge #
Aug. 21 – Nashville, Tenn. @ Brooklyn Bowl #
Aug. 23 – Savannah, Ga. @ Victory North #
Aug. 24 – Asheville, N.C. @ Orange Peel #
Aug. 25 – Jasonville, N.C. @ Hooligans #
Aug. 27 – Virginia Beach, Va. @ Elevation 27 #
Aug. 28 – Pittsburgh, Pa. @ Mr. Smalls #
Sept. 1 – Syracuse, N.Y. @ Westcott Theater *
Sept. 8 – Detroit, Mich. @ St. Andrews Hall #
Sept. 9 – Flint, Mich. @ Machine Shop #
Sept. 10 – Harrisburg, Pa. @ XL Live #
Sept. 11 – Mansfield, Ohio @ Inkcarceration Fest
Sept. 12 – Danville, Va. @ Blue Ridge Rockfest
Sept. 15 – Baltimore, Md. @ Rams Head Live #
Sept. 16 – Sayreville, N.J. @ Starland Ballroom #
Sept. 17 – Portland, Maine @ Aura *
Sept. 18 – Hampton Beach, N.H. @ Wally’s *
Sept. 21 – Huntsville, Ala. @ Mars Music Hall – Von Braun Center*
Sept. 22 – Atlanta, Ga. @ Buckhead Theater *
Sept. 23 – Destin, Fla. @ Club LA *
Sept. 24 – Orlando, Fla. @ Central FL Fairgrounds – Rebel Rock Fest
Oct. 8 – Sacramento, Calif. @ Aftershock Festival