It was a hot summer Wednesday night in July when Hurricane Nita struck the historic venue Trees in Deep Ellum! Nita brought her insane Summer Storm through Dallas and brought unique guest Lions at the Gate. When you enter the landmark Dallas venue, you see a large crowd growing by the minute. The fans were scattered throughout the club getting drinks and checking out the band’s merch before the lines got too long.
As the time drew near for the Lions at the Gate to take the stage and start the show, you could tell the anticipation was growing in the crowd. They pushed up to the front against the stage to be as close as possible to the action. Their drummer came onto the scene and sat on his throne behind his oversized drum kit and prepared to get the show started. The rest of the band began appearing on the stage, the lights went down, and the intro music began playing over the speakers. The crowd started cheering and whistling as the intro video played, and then the band stayed standing on the stage with their backs to us. As the intro music and video faded out and the venue went dark, the singer turned and welcomed the fans to the show, introduced themselves as Lions at the Gate, and jumped straight into their opening song, Not Even Human! He told the fans to get closer to the stage and have some fun with them tonight. They kept their set going quickly with breaks in-between songs where they would talk with the crowd and introduce the band to the fans. They also let everyone know that every song they are playing tonight is on their new EP album, The Excuses We Cannot Make, which releases on August 25th of this year. They played some heavy-hitting songs like Vultures and Scapegoat that elicited clapping and singing along from the fans as they performed flawlessly. They wrapped up their set and thanked the fans for coming and participating with them as they played and walked off the stage. The crew and band members started breaking down their gear to get the stage prepared for Nita and her band to take the stage.
As the fans returned to their spots from a quick break between sets, several secured their merch and got as close to the stage as possible. The lights on the stage started flashing, the intro music started playing, and Nita’s band started making their way onto the stage and getting set in their starting positions. Then suddenly, Nita Strauss stepped into view, and the crowd went wild, yelling and screaming as they knew what would happen. We would all get an extremely incredible show from her super-talented band. As soon as Nita walked out and they got set, they kicked straight off into Summer Storm with heavy thunderous drum strikes from her incredible drummer and fiancé Josh Villalta, with help on the low end from her phenomenal bass player Christopher Dean. During the song, you could see Nita and her other guitar player Johnny Young getting next to each other, and both of them shredding away on the guitars flawlessly and giving the fans incredible moments to remember. As they wrapped that song up, they kept the show moving and went into Our Most Desperate Hour, which is off her Controlled Chaos album. They continued making their way through the setlist for the night. Nita paused and thanked the crowd for coming and joining them on a weeknight. She announced they were there supporting the new album, but if they didn’t mind, she would play some of her album, Controlled Chaos. As they were playing, you could hear and see her fantastic keyboard player Katt Scarlett going to town at the back of the stage while they were playing Mariana Trench from her first album. Nita would address the fans several times, interact with them, and have fun between the absolute killer rock and roll clinic they were putting on for the fans. She would tell them how much fun it was and how happy they were to be back in Dallas at the iconic Trees venue. Part of the way through their set, Nita stopped and conversed with the fans and talked with them about her newest record and how it has a lot of guest vocalists on the songs. She said now I have the singer on tour with me, and today is her first day ever in Dallas, and I would like to give her a big warm welcome because I have hyped you guys up. Nita then said, please make some noise for vocalists for Deadlands, Kasey Karlsen as she made her way onto the stage, greeted everyone, and confirmed she was ready. Nita hyped up the fans here in Dallas tonight. After addressing the crowd, they started playing The Wolf You Feed, and Kasey started singing and belting out the lyrics demonstrating an incredible vocal range. The crowd loved it and welcomed her with open arms. They continued playing through their setlist until they reached the final song. As they introduced their last song, they offered it up as a tribute to the great Dimebag Darrell and Vinnie Paul and Pantera, they quickly jumped into a cover of Cowboys from Hell, and the roof almost came off from the yelling and the fans singing along at the top of their lungs. As they finished the song, the whole band came to the front of the stage and started tossing out picks and drumsticks to the fans before exiting the stage.
I have been waiting to witness a Hurricane Nita show for many years. I was finally able to make it all work and come together so I could cover her show. She is an incredible guitar player with a phenomenal band of musicians behind her, playing and sharing the stage. Every one of her band members was able to show their talents and have fun with the crowd as they played here tonight in Deep Ellum in Dallas, Texas. If you have never seen Nita and her band, I highly recommend it, and you will not be disappointed. I will ensure I get to go to more of her shows in the future.
Words and Photos by Craig Youngblood
Nita Strauss Setlist: