jakub | March 29, 2024

Nita Strauss, Diamante, and Starbenders Dazzle Piere’s Entertainment Center in Ft. Wayne, Indiana on March 26th, 2024


 

 

On Tuesday, March 26th, Piere’s Entertainment Center in Ft. Wayne, Indiana hosted Nita Strauss, Diamante, and Starbenders as they awed the audience with their entertaining performances. It’s not every day you see a tour of three bands all fronted by women, and it was certainly refreshing to see. While all three bands were similar in genre, their distinct music allowed their performances to both stand apart from each other, while perfectly complimenting each act.

First to the stage was Starbenders, an American rock band from Atlanta, Georgia. Their bewitching set began with “Blood Moon” a song off their newest album from 2023, “Take Back the Night.” Dressed in leather, heeled boots, and flowy sleeves, each member’s aesthetic fit well with the music. At one point in the set, vocalist Kimi Shelter asked the crowd to cast a spell with her, which is an apt way to describe their performance.

Starbenders had a mix of slow and fast songs, but no matter the tempo, it was easy to dance and sway along, which many members of the crowd did. Though the band’s interactions with the crowd were minimal, there was a clear connection between the band and crowd, which Kimi and bassist Aaron Lecesne played into as they danced and jumped, encouraging the audience to follow suit. When they announced it was time for their final song of the evening, the crowd was disappointed to see the band go.

 

Starbenders

Kimi Shelter – Vocals

Aaron Lecesne – Bass

Kriss Tokaji – Guitar 

Qi Wei – Drums

 

 

Set List:

1). Blood Moon

2). Holy Mother

3). BITCHES BE WITCHES

4). Cover Me

5). Seven White Horses

6). Body Talk

7). Cherry Wine

8). If You Need It

 

Diamante, an alternative musician dazzled the crowd with powerful vocals, charming personality, and contagious energy. She shared the stage with her touring guitarist, Neil Swanson, and touring drummer Taylor Carroll, who both enhanced the set with their prominent instrumentals. The two musicians were very in sync and played off each other well, adding a solid backdrop to Diamante’s all-encompassing stage presence. She made sure to interact with the audience throughout her set, whether that was chatting with them between songs, or making eye contact and pointing out different crowd members while singing certain song lyrics. The crowd loved it if their excited cheering and non-stop bouncing was anything to go by.

Diamante utilized a multi-colored light show that augmented each song effectively. During the song “American Dream,” specifically, one of the lyrics talks about being “red, white, and blue,” which was showcased in the lighting. Additions like these may be small, but they add something special to the show.

She finished her set with the song “War Cry” and had the crowd singing along to the chorus, even those who’d been unfamiliar with her music before. Everyone was fired up by the time the last chords of the guitar rang out and Diamante took her bow. It was the perfect energy to begin the headlining set.

 

Diamante:

Diamante – Vocals

Neil Swanson – Guitar

Taylor Carroll – Drums 

 

 

Set List:

1). Bite Your Kiss

2). Haunted

3). 1987

4). Love Is a Battlefield
(Pat Benatar cover)

5). Coming in Hot

6). American Dream

7). Ghost Myself

8). War Cry

 

Finally, it was the moment the crowd had been waiting for. Nita Strauss is a legendary guitarist, and it’s always a treat every time I get to see her. She’s energetic and entertaining, and watching her skills in action is always awe-inspiring. Her compelling and dynamic playing makes it impossible to take your eyes off her, and when you add in her incredibly talented band to the mix, it makes for one electric performance. Something I appreciate about seeing Nita Strauss live is the fact that the focus is definitely on Nita, but every other member of her band gets a chance to shine throughout the set, as well.

In addition to being immensely skillful, all band members engage really well with the audience. Even drummer Josh Villalta, who’s kit was set up all the way at the back of the stage, managed to hype up the crowd during his drum solo by shouting and smiling, or holding a hand to his ear in a request for applause, which the crowd eagerly granted him. Meanwhile, rhythm guitarist Johnny Young and bassist Christopher Dean were dynamic as they raced across the stage before leaning next to each other and playing their instruments as if in a race. Dean’s energy was especially infectious as he leapt in the air, relentless in his enthusiasm as he swung his arm around before hitting the notes. Johnny may have been less bouncy, but he was no less impressive.

Keyboardist Katt Scarlett had her moment to shine during “Kintsugi,” an instrumental song off Nita’s newest album “The Call of the Void.” For this song, only Katt and Nita remained on the stage. The guitar and keyboard notes filled the venue in a haunting, yet beautiful tone as they played the emotional song, which was made even more powerful by a touching speech Nita gave the audience prior to beginning about humanity’s imperfections. “Kintsugi” was the only slow song in the set, which allowed both Nita and Katt to clearly showcase their skills.

Once the song finished, vocalist Kasey Karlsen took the stage as “The Wolf You Feed” began. Just like the rest of the band, Kasey’s energy was non-stop, which only further encouraged the crowd to move and headbang to the music. Her presence was commanding as she switched effortlessly between clean and unclean vocals. Because “The Call of the Void” features several singers with such an eclectic vocal range, it must have been difficult to find one person who could accurately perform them all, but Kasey makes it look easy.

A highlight of the evening came during the second to last song of the set, “Victorious.” While Nita stood center stage during a guitar solo, Kimi Shelter from Starbenders and Diamante made an appearance to join Kasey on vocals for the rest of the song. The crowd went wild as the three women harmonized and led the audience through the last few choruses. Being a woman, it was particularly inspiring to see a stage full of successful women in the music industry playing and singing a song about being victorious. I have no doubt this will become one of my favorite concert memories.

To finish the set, Nita Strauss and the band played a cover of Pantera’s “Cowboys from Hell,” and I have no other word to describe it but exquisite. The raw energy from all of the band members made it the perfect song to end on.

The whole show was exhilarating as each band brought their all to their performances. It was an absolute honor to be able to attend this show, and I know it’s one I’ll never forget. As of writing this, it’s two days after the show, and I’m still thinking about it constantly, which is always the mark of a good concert.

 

Nita Strauss:

Nita Strauss – Lead Guitar

Josh Villalta – Drums

Johnny Young – Rhythm Guitar

Christopher Dean – Bass

Katt Scarlett – Keys

Kasey Karlsen – Vocals

 

 

Set List:

1). Summer Storm

2). Our Most Desperate Hour

3). Mariana Trench

4). Alegria

5). Lion Among Wolves

6). The Quest / Drum Solo

7). Pandemonium

8). Kintsugi

9). The Wolf You Feed

10). The Golden Trail

11). Digital Bullets

12). Through the Noise

13). Dead Inside

14). Victorious

15). Cowboys From Hell
(Pantera cover)

 

 

 

 

 

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