jakub | July 23, 2023




On Thursday July 13th, Houston’s Scout Bar delivered a tasty treat to its ever-present and supportive audience, this time with guitar phenom Nita Strauss and her red-hot band as they stopped in the Space City during their “Summer Storm” tour. The tour is in support of the release of her second album entitled The Call of the Void, which screamed across the nation to nothing but rave reviews. This performance was certainly no exception, and was supported by alt metal rockers Lions At The Gate and also included Houston’s metal rock group In The Aftermath.

In typical fashion, Scout Bar seldom has a pit separating the audience from the stage, so the energy exchange between performers and fans is always intimate and engaging. As a photographer, it does make moving around a bit of a challenge, but fans are always accommodating and kind. As I stood in the crowd, I overheard conversations from fans who said they drove for hours to see the show. Scout Bar is set up to accommodate not only a general admission crowd, but also reserves 10-20 tables of four around the venue, for those who want to watch the show without being immersed in the craziness toward the stage.

Around 7:45 p.m., In The Aftermath entered the stage. The stage’s dark and moody lighting was a great addition to the band’s setlist. In The Aftermath makes appearances all over the city, and it was obvious their hardcore fans were in attendance. After the show, I chatted briefly with lead vocalist J.D. Garza, who is a good-natured soul. I look to see this band more often.


In The Aftermath Lineup

Lead Vocals – J.D. Garza

Guitar – Joseph Perez

Bass – Jonathan Torres

Drums – Ralph Wallace




1). Praetorian

2). Hush

3). Clarity

4). Crawlspace

5). Sideways

6). Somewhere To Be

7). Subtraction


After a short intermission to re-set the stage, Lions At The Gate appeared. Lead vocalist Cristian Machado roared onto the stage in full vocal glory. Behind me I heard a fan say “oh he’s in good form tonight”, and I couldn’t agree more. Lions At The Gate was the band that surprised me – in a good way. Their sound was amazing. Machado’s voice sounded well-rested; certainly not like someone who’s been touring for months. The bottom line: This band is impressive from the moment they start their set to the moment they leave. Not only are they fun to hear, they are also a joy to watch. There is something darkly enchanting about them, but you’ll see what I mean when you catch their show.


Lions At The Gate Lineup

Lead Vocals – Cristian Machado

Guitar – Ahrue “Luster” Ilustre

Guitar – Diego Verduzco

Bass – Stephen Brewer

Drums – Fern Lemus




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


Close to 10:00 p.m., Nita and her band hit the stage. Strauss is well known for her incredible skill as a veteran member of Alice Cooper and a more recent and shorter stint with Demi Lovato. But she certainly proved her ability to headline a tour without looking back. Make no mistake – Hurricane Nita Strauss is not your ordinary musician; she is part guitar virtuoso, part businesswoman, part teacher and part fitness guru, all wrapped into one. She bounds across the stage, guitar in hand, fingers and hair flying without even breaking a sweat, and it’s glorious to both watch and hear. Sporting a new engagement ring from longtime boyfriend Josh Villalta, she effortlessly works the strings on her signature Ibanez. Oh, that engagement? Villalta popped the question on stage, just one week prior to this show. You can watch that wonderful moment.


The band blew through the first few songs of the setlist at an energetic pace that didn’t slow down until Nita took her first break to welcome the frenzied crowd that continued to press toward the stage. At one point Nita jokingly said “don’t put anything on the stage, because I can’t guarantee it won’t get damaged…I’ve been known to [accidentally] step on fingers, cameras, phones, you name it.”

The show’s energy continued throughout the set with the introduction of vocalist and Tik Tok influencer Kasey Karlsen, whose vocal variety added a lyrical element to some of the tracks. Strauss shared the story of why and how this came to be in more than a few interviews. In short: The addition of Karlsen was a positive move for the show.

Toward the end of the set, Nita announced that it was guitarist Johnny Young’s birthday, and a giant cake with candles was carefully brought to the stage for Young to celebrate his special day and blow out the candles while serenaded by the band and the audience. The show ended for the night with a cover of Pantera’s Cowboys From Hell. Sad you missed Nita this time around? Don’t be, because she will soon re-unite with Alice Cooper on his upcoming North American tour, beginning August 5th.


Nita Strauss Lineup

Lead Guitar – Nita Strauss

Drums – Josh Villalta

Guitar – Johnny Young

Keyboards – Katt Scarlett

Bass – Christopher Dean

Guest Vocalist – Kasey Karlsen





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). The Wolf You Feed

9). The Golden Trail

10). Through the Noise

11). Victorious

12). Dead Inside

13). Cowboys From Hell (Pantera cover)






Find In The Aftermath Online:

Find Lions At The Gate Online:

Find Nita Strauss Online:




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