Nita Strauss - Toronto 2023Nita Strauss entertained a sold out crowd at Toronto’s legendary Horseshoe Tavern this past Father’s Day, June 18, the first sold out show of her Summer Storm tour and only Canadian stop.

Strauss was originally slated to play The Horseshoe in December of 2021 but had to cancel due to Covid. That night, Brampton band Sticks N Stones filled the void left by the cancellation and this night they were the openers. Although she has played across Canada many times with Alice Cooper over the past 12 years, this was Nita’s first solo show in Canada and some fans travelled far to see it. The young couple beside me were Colombians living in Tampa Florida who made this show part of their vacation.


The show began with the band, guitarist Johnny Young, bassist Christopher Dean, and drummer/manager/boyfriend Josh Villalta finding their place on stage. Nita started playing off stage then ran onto the stage to the loud roar of the crowd and performed Summer Storm from the new album “The Call Of The Void” which is being released July 7. The next few songs were all instrumental, mainly from her debut album Controlled Chaos.

The show did not go on without any hitches. Early on there was a pause while her crew worked on a monitor issue. Nita explained that she could only hear her guitar at the very front center of the stage and her “sweet spot” was about four inches from the fan front and center. He didn’t seem to mind.

Once things got rolling again everything seemed to go pretty smooth with Nita moving around stage thrashing and flinging her long blonde locks around to the music. After a drum solo from Josh and the single Pandemonium, singer Kasey Karlsen came out and performed songs from the new album starting with The Wolf You Feed, a wicked song featuring Arch Enemy’s Alissa White-Gluz on the recorded version.

Karlsen did a great job covering a multitude of vocal styles, not an easy task. The Golden Trail which features Anders Fridén vocals, Through The Noise, Lzzy Hale, Victorious featuring Dorothy, Dead Inside with David Draiman and finished up the night with a cover of Pantera’s Cowboys From Hell.

It’s quite a testament to Nita’s talent and appeal that this array of hard rock/metal singers worked with her on this album. Think of the first Slash album for comparison and I would rank Nita with Slash on the talent scale.

As said earlier, Brampton band Sticks N Stones opened the night with a spirited set for the hometown crowd. Nita Strauss mentioned during her set that she has a local band open every show on her tour. This kind of kindness and generosity is a big reason she has worked with Alice Cooper for the last nine years.

Metalcore head bangers Lions at the Gate are the main support for this tour. Formed by former members of  Ill Niño in 2021, these guys were heavy and really got the crowd wound up. Guitarist Diego Verduzco was a hoot with his long dreadlocks swinging and his interactions with the people at the front of the stage, and bassist Stephen Brewer was on a mission to get the crowd pumped up as much as possible. It was a hell of a fun performance.

For more, Nita: visit, Sticks N Stones: Facebook, Lions at the Gate:

Nita Strauss with Lions at the Gate and Sticks N Stones
The Horsehoe Tavern
Toronto, ON
June 18, 2023

All photos by Dan Boshart


Sticks N Stones:

Lions at the Gate:

Nita Strauss

  • Intro
  • Summer Storm
  • Our Most Desperate Hour
  • Mariana Trench
  • Alegria
  • Lion Among Wolves
  • Quest/Drum Solo
  • Pandemonium
  • The Wolf You Feed
  • The Golden Trail
  • Through The Noise
  • Victorious
  • Dead Inside
  • Cowboys From Hell – Pantera Cover

Lions At The Gate

  • Not Even Human
  • Vultures
  • Scapegoat
  • Drain
  • Bed Of Nails
  • The Climb
  • The Ledge
  • Digital Sea
  • Find My Way

Sticks N Stones

  • Last Stand
  • How Does It Feel
  • We Are One
  • Torn Apart
  • Only Pain – Gojira Cover
  • Going Down
  • Stuck In Your Ways
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