When it comes to talking about modern day rock legends, it’s impossible to not include Nita Strauss in the conversation. Strauss has done it all: Endless years of touring as a guitarist for Alice Cooper, recent runs with Demi Lovato, a long tenure with The Iron Maidens, and plenty others, including her own personal band for solo shows.
Performances at massive events like Los Angeles Rams games and WWE matches, music festivals, NASCAR races, you name it. Master class guitar lessons, both in-person and virtual. A professional commitment to fitness, including her own programs. A massive online following with well over 700,000 followers on Instagram alone. Multiple collaborations both onstage and in the studio with a stunning roster of rock and metal superstars. It’d be easier to ask what she hasn't done.
I remember seeing Strauss on her Winter Wasteland Tour back in December of 2021 at the Blind Tiger in Greensboro, North Carolina. It was close to the end of days for that venue, probably for the best; I spent way too much time getting drunk off cheap beer at shows there, whether they were international acts or my friends’ local bands. I may not have graduated from the college I was supposed to attend just down the street, but I did make plenty of great memories rocking out at the dirty ol’ Blind Tiger.
But I digress - Strauss packed the house on that chilly evening and decimated the eardrums of many unprepared Alice Cooper fans, shredding through a packed set mostly comprised of songs off her first solo album, 2018’s Controlled Chaos.
Just in case you doubt her extensive and impressive resume, Strauss truly shines in the live setting with an enormous stage presence and undeniable mastery of her instrument. That night, she performed a new song called ‘Dead Inside’. A month later, that song would establish her as the first female solo artist to hit number one on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Chart in over thirty years.
Strauss is now set to release her second solo album, The Call of the Void, this July, where she once again delivers on intricate guitar and bass work that effortlessly glides between stadium rock grandiose and punishingly heavy metal riffs and breakdowns.
It also features a stacked guest list on select tracks, including the likes of Alissa White-Gluz, Lzzy Hale, David Draiman, Chris Motionless, and more. It’s a stunning artistic achievement that cements Strauss’ place as a modern day icon of musical empowerment, and acts as another showcase of her versatility when it comes to different styles and genres.
Last week, she and her band returned to Greensboro once again on her current Summer Storm Tour in support of the new album. The Blind Tiger has since been reborn as Hangar 1819, and a far more diverse crowd than last time began to gather nice and early to see Strauss and company tear it up live and in person.
Whereas the 2021 audience had mostly been filled with Alice Cooper fans, a busy year and a half has gathered up plenty of new supporters for Strauss, made up of all sorts of different ages and backgrounds - everyone from teenage Lovatics to wrestling fans to classic rock diehards to death metalheads. One older couple in attendance were rocking Lorna Shore and Shadow of Intent shirts, and both of them were very excited to see Strauss and her band for the first time.
Local North Carolina act Black Tide Gallows opened up the show with some filthy metalcore goodness, setting the mood with crushing rhythms and genuinely shredding guitar work as well as strong melodic portions throughout their set.
Greensboro was properly warmed up, which allowed the next group, Lions at the Gate, to really set things ablaze. Featuring previous Ill Niño members Cristian Machado, Diego Verduzco, and Ahrue Luster, the band got feet off the ground and heads banging with fierce tracks like "Not Even Human" and "Bed of Nails". Halfway through their set, Machado admitted that he was having trouble hearing himself due to some sound issues, but it hardly slowed down the onstage momentum or the audience’s enthusiasm one bit.
In between sets, the crowd jammed out to classics from Rob Zombie, Metallica, Slipknot and others playing over the speakers while the televisions at the bar treated patrons to the original Texas Chain Saw Massacre on one screen and Monuments Men on the other. It was the ideal ambience for a heavy music show like this, and excitement was at an all-time high as Strauss finally took to the stage alongside drummer Josh Villalta, guitarist Johnny Young, bassist Christopher Dean, and keyboardist Katt Scarlett.
The energy and temperature in the venue immediately shot up by several degrees as the group ripped into the tour’s namesake, ‘Summer Storm’, and Strauss got down to business right away with her signature brand of blistering guitar shredding.
After giving fans that all-too-brief tease of new music, the band then turned the clock back to Controlled Chaos, playing favorites like "Mariana Trench" and "Our Most Desperate Hour"
to a lively reception. “It’s so fun playing the new songs on this tour but it is equally fun playing these old songs!” Strauss told the crowd. “These are actually our first live shows in over a year if you can believe that. So it’s a great feeling to be back onstage with this group of people playing these songs.”
Horns were raised high and heads were banging as Strauss whipped her hair in every direction while Young and Dean ran laps around the stage, delivering fast and vicious metal riffage with extreme prejudice. In the back, Villalta was practically abusing his kit; every hit of the drumstick felt like an explosion in itself. At the same time, Scarlett layered on some atmospheric synths and keys to add some appreciated dimensions to the brutality. The band was putting on the very definition of a clinic.
The time finally arrived for more songs off of The Call of the Void, and Strauss brought out the newest addition to her touring production, vocalist extraordinaire Kasey Karlsen. The social media sensation and frontwoman for Long Island metalcore outfit Deadlands has been building quite an online reputation for herself with various covers of different rock and metal tunes, but the Summer Storm Tour is her very first time out on the road.
The Greensboro gig was her third show ever on tour. Karlsen was beyond impressive that night, matching the talents of legends like White-Gluz on ‘The Wolf You Feed’, Hale on ‘Through the Noise’, Dorothy on ‘Victorious’, and even Anders Fridén of In Flames on ‘The Golden Trail’. She’s a guaranteed superstar in the making.
After initiating a massive singalong session on ‘Dead Inside’, Strauss and company thanked the North Carolina crowd for spending their evening with them at Hangar 1819. “I have to admit that when I saw the name of this venue, I wasn’t sure where we were going. But as soon as we pulled up in the parking lot I was like ‘I know this place!’” Strauss told the audience. “We had such a great time here last time.”
The band ended their show with an eruptive performance of Pantera’s ‘Cowboys From Hell’, which got fans jumping and air-guitaring for the iconic metal anthem. It was a triumphant finale to the night.
Despite her continuous ascension to fame and recognition in the music industry these past few years, Strauss showed no rock star celebrity arrogance, unapproachability, or ego at the show in Greensboro. Confidence, yes, absolutely - as one of the world’s most prominent guitar players (among other accomplishments), it’s clear both on and off stage that Strauss seems to very well know her worth and status. But for the level of stardom that she carries, she kept things relaxed and intimate throughout the night.
Anytime she was spotted going to and from the tour bus, multiple cheers rang out and Strauss would always give everyone a friendly and appreciative wave. After the show, she and the entire band stayed at the merch booth to take photos and chat with everyone. There was never any feeling of being rushed or unwelcome.
Looking around at or talking to any fans in the building that night, it becomes clear that Strauss has more than earned the adoration and devotion that’s evident on all of their faces. Mine included. She’s the real deal, and you’d be wise to catch her now before she inevitably starts headlining bigger (and much more expensive!) venues.
Nita Strauss is currently touring the U.S. on the Summer Storm Tour. Check out the remaining dates below and get tickets - HERE
June 21st - Harrison, Ohio - The Blue Note
June 22nd - Flint, Michigan - Machine Shop
June 23rd - Angola, Indiana - The Eclectic Room
June 24th - Bloomington, Illinois - The Castle Theatre
June 25th - Madison, Wisconsin - Majestic Theatre
June 26th - Omaha, Nebraska - Waiting Room
June 28th - Denver, Colorado - Blue Bird
June 29th - Salt Lake City, Utah - Urban Lounge
June 30th - Boise, Idaho - Neurolux
July 1st - Portland, Oregon - Hawthorne
July 2nd - Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada - Rickshaw
July 3rd - Seattle, Washington - El Corazon
July 5th - Sacramento, California - Goldfields Trading Post
July 6th - Los Angeles, California - Whisky A Go
July 8th - Las Vegas, Nevada - The Space
July 9th - Phoenix, Arizona - Crescent Ballroom
July 11th - San Antonio, Texas - The Rock Box
July 12th - Dallas, Texas - Trees
July 13th - Houston, Texas - Scout Bar
July 14th - New Orleans, Louisiana - The Parish @ House Of Blues