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The Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto was transformed into a boiling cauldron of energy as the Summer Storm Tour featuring Nita Strauss unleashed a relentless display of musical prowess. The evening kicked off with local band Sticks N' Stones, a local group hailing from Brampton, Ontario, known for their high-octane performances. Having seen them previously opening for John 5, they have honed their craft over the past year, evolving into a tighter and more aggressive force to be reckoned with. Despite the stage being cramped with three drum kits and an abundance of gear, they managed to deliver a powerful and captivating set, capturing the audience from the start. The venue’s stage was tucked into a narrow corner and the stage itself sat just a couple feet off the ground. Fans were able to get up close and personal with the band from the start. Nita Strauss had a large group of VIP Ticketholders who got a autograph session and a hour long Q&A before the show, as well as front row spots.

Next up was Lions at the Gate, a band that boasts an impressive lineup consisting of former Ill Nino members alongside bassist Stephen Brewer and drummer Fern Lemus. Formed in 2022, they have wasted no time in making a name for themselves with their distinct sound. Lead vocalist Cristian Machado brought his commanding presence to the stage, while guitarists Ahrue Ilustre and Diego Verduzco displayed their seasoned prowess. Lions at the Gate showcased their musical style through a nine-song setlist, including tracks like "Not even human," "Vultures," and "Digital Sea," which draw from their collective experience while forging a new sonic path.

However, it was Nita Strauss, the guitar virtuoso known for her work with Alice Cooper, who stole the spotlight as the headliner of the night. With her upcoming album "Call of the Void" set to release on July 7th, Nita has quickly risen as one of the top guitarists in the metal industry. Her dynamic and intricate playing, coupled with her unwavering stage presence, has solidified her position as an iconic figure in the genre. Nita Strauss has carved her own path, infusing her edgy repertoire of instrumentals with her unique flair, capturing audiences worldwide. Joined on this tour by vocalist Kasey Karlsen, their collaboration brought a fresh dimension to the performance, with Karlsen's searing vocals perfectly complementing Nita's raging guitar work.

Throughout the night, Nita Strauss treated the audience to a mesmerizing setlist that showcased her diverse range as a musician. From the blistering opening of "Summer Storm" to the melodic intensity of "Mariana Trench" and the fierce energy of "The Quest," each song was a testament to her mastery of the instrument. The setlist also included tracks from her upcoming album, such as "Lion Among Wolves" and "Victorious," providing a glimpse into the new sonic territory she is exploring. As the night progressed, the introduction of Kasey Karlsen on vocals infused the performance with an electrifying energy, elevating songs like "The Wolf You Feed," originally sung by Alissa White-Gluz on the album, to new heights.

Navigating the intimate venue, Nita fearlessly worked the front of the stage, headbanging mere inches away from the impassioned crowd. The lack of a photographer pit and the stage's proximity to the floor meant limited mobility for capturing diverse angles, particularly during the earlier bands. However, as Nita took the stage, the atmosphere became more spacious, allowing her to prowl and connect with the audience on a personal level. The Summer Storm Tour at the Horseshoe Tavern provided a rare opportunity to witness Nita Strauss, one of the industry's top guitarists.



Lions at the Gate Setlist

1. Not Even Human

2. Vultures

3. Scapegoat

4. Drain

5. Bed of Nails

6. The Climb

7. The Ledge

8. Digital Sea

9. Find My Way


Nita Strauss Setlist

1. Summer Storm

2. Our Most Desperate Hour

3. Mariana Trench

4. Alegria

5. Lion Among Wolves

6. The Quest

7. Pandemonium

8. The Wolf You Feed

9. The Golden Trail

10. Through the Noise

11. Victorious

12. Dead Inside

13. Cowboys From Hell

Dave Blass

Photojournalist - Toronto

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