Pop Evil with Royal Tusk and ERA 9 – Live at Café Campus – November 18th 2018 – Montreal, QC

The more I go to shows, the more I realize how fluid rock and metal are. Sure, we have “the formula” for good rock and most of us take our cues from the 70s and 80s. But what about mixing heavy metal with some electronic sounds, or even dubstep? Sure, it has been done before, earliest I could think of is Aerosmith’s Walk with this way, featuring Run DMC (better than the original) but to see it live, though it may not always work, is impressive. Artists taking freedoms with the music is what it’s all about. Café Campus was taken by a storm on last Sunday night and I’m here to tell you what the damages are.

Pop Evil

The first band of the night was ERA 9, a band that blends metal with EDM and rap. On their Facebook page, ERA 9 states that they are “drawing from the future rather than the past {…}” in order to create their sound. I think that’s a pretty accurate description of the bands overall feeling. With a male and female vocalists and your usual three musicians (bass, guitar, drums), the band had enough going on to fill up the stage. Prerecorded EDM tracks played and the band was always on time. Where the band suffers is with its similar music structures. While the electronic beats add variations to each song, I felt like the band member were often played the same thing, only in different speeds. There were also times when I felt the bands sound was weak. In this day and age, when even local bands are trying to produce the strongest and loudest sound, bands need to make sure their sound is full and slaps the audience in the face. This may be the room or the sound man fault, but there were particular songs where even without ear plugs, I felt like it could be louder.

Next band on the bill was Royal Tusk, a band from Edmonton who hadn’t toured in a while, according to them. This performance felt more personal, with band members being very open and friendly with the crowd, cracking jokes and expressing their appreciation. Royal Tusk is a straightforward rock band, with two guitarists, a bassist, and a drummer. The music takes a lot from pop acts, staying heavy and true but using a format that makes it accessible and memorable. Singer and guitarist Daniel Carriere has some strong vocals, but his microphone could have been louder. Bassist Sandy MacKinnon has a similar problem; incredible skills, but his bass was often drowned in the roaring guitars and drums. Like the band before them, Royal Tusk has a radio/pop-oriented sound, but you can still hear their old-school metal influences. A band like this would please the old-school metal heads who listen only to 80s heavy metal as well as fans newer to the genre.

Pop Evil

The last act of the night was the mighty Pop Evil, who fans had been waiting all night to see. There was tension in the air, as the band was late on stage. People were shouting, demanding for the band. An announcer came on stage to present the band, which I found a little strange, couldn’t the singer do that? I feel like this sort of thing distances the artists from the crowd. Like ERA 9, this band used prerecorded beats and played over them, mixing up rap and EDM with their metal. I heard a lot of influences in their set. Some songs strangely had a Rage Against the Machine feel to them, without even sounding like RATM. The track “Hell on Heels,” which was written with Motley Crue’s Mick Mars, had more of an 80’s hair metal feel to it. Leigh Kakaty has some strong vocals and is a very diverse singer, going from melodies to raps with such ease, you’d think he’d been doing that his whole life. Pop Evil was big on “drops,” where there is a sudden change of rhythm in a song often followed by a heavy bass. It pumped up the crowd, but after a few times, I felt like their drops were very similar to each other. At the end of their set, the band didn’t stay off the stage too long, especially with a crowd chanting their names. After a four or five song encore, I can only imagine how tired these guys were. I was impressed by their willingness to keep on playing. To me, that’s a band that is having a great time on stage.

The night ended later than planned, but it was worth it. Each band had something different to show and while this particular brand of music might not be my forte, I saw skill and respect for the music in every musician that took the stage that night. ERA 9, Royal Tusk and Pop Evil on November 18, make sure to keep up with the tour and new music!

Written by Johnathan Robinson
Photography by Chris Carpenter
*edited by Danielle Kenedy
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About Johnathan Robinson 57 Articles
Some say he came from the land of ice and snow, while others believe that he was taken directly from the void and placed into the warm hands of the devil himself. To the general public, he blends into the crowd of rock n roll, with his long hair and beard, acting the part, but planning something sinister. His favourite habitats are that of concerts, where noise is abundant. A musician himself, he has somewhat forgotten about his sinister plans and instead turned to the art of musicianship. Along his journeys, he came across clan Bucketlist, who generously took him in, offering him shelter and aid. His plans of eternal doom seem far off now, as he writes, plays music and enjoys the occasional pint of ale with his allies. He'll probably remember the doom stuff one day... or not. To be honest, he's a pretty cool guy. Or so he thinks.

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