Like her namesake natural disaster, Nita Strauss took New Orleans completely by storm. With the help of tour opener Lions at the Gate, she shook the House of Blues Parish stage to its swampy foundation on this nearly-chilling Friday the 14th. The House of Blues was the final stop on “Hurricane” Nita Strauss’ Summer Storm Tour, which spanned over a month and 24 separate shows in the U.S. and Canada. However, while standing shoulder-to-shoulder in a sold-out Parish surrounded by new and old-school metalheads of all ages, enduring the semi-intoxicating heat and energy only New Orleans can provide, you could have never guessed that it was the tour’s final show.
Lions At The Gate
Nita’s opening act and tour partner Lions at the Gate kicked off the evening with a deliciously heavy set, which lead singer Christian Machado later revealed to be made up of songs from their upcoming debut album The Excuses We Cannot Make. Despite the sweltering heat, Lions at the Gate performed as if completely unfazed. Their energy and intensity built with each new song and the band seemed to function as a cohesive force of nature perfectly in sync with itself. Lions at the Gate was one of the best opening bands I have seen; their powerful performance and gritty magnetism is the perfect recipe for a tour of their own one day.
After Lions at the Gate finished their set, we all had a moment to breathe and grab another water as the anticipation built towards a moment that I will never forget. I’ve personally seen Nita Strauss perform a dozen times as a part of Alice Cooper’s touring band but her performance that night evolved my opinion of her from not only an excellent guitarist and showman but also an incredible frontman as well. From the moment Strauss came on stage, there was a palpable electricity that permeated the crowd as every eye in the room locked onto her every move.
Nita Strauss’ fingers leapt across the neck of her guitar as she captivated the audience with every inspirational note, but one finger had a gleaming new accessory that caught my attention as it shined in the stage lights. Just 8 days prior to the show, Strauss’ drummer and now fiancé Josh Villalta proposed to her during the release party for her new solo album The Call of the Void at the historical Whiskey A Go Go in West Hollywood. Villalta is a Louisiana native, so a number of his family members were in attendance as they brought the tour home for a night that was as much a celebration as it was a performance.
While Nita undeniably commanded the room, the rest of her band and accompanying singer Kasey Karlsen held their own for an unforgettable set and endcap on the tour. Karlsen, who Strauss called a “fearless” singer, was added to the Summer Storm Tour after being discovered on social media by the guitarist. Strauss’ confidence was clearly justified, as Kasey slayed the vocals in each performance and truly breathed Strauss’ songs to life. The whole band connected flawlessly and effectively, and if I didn’t
know better I would have never guessed that this was their first tour together.
While Nita may be celebrating the start of her solo career, she has an undeniable impact and connection with her fans. From the ridiculously long line of people in VIP waiting for a chance to meet her, to the way that she compels your attention to her guitar, it’s clear that Nita Strauss is a rock and roll legend in the making.