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Unleashing the Shred: Nita Strauss Rocks the Stage at Growlers

Nita Strauss, Starbenders, and Diamante played a stellar show at Growlers in Memphis, Tennessee on March 24, 2024.

The first band on the bill was Diamante. Known for their songs "Ghost Myself" and "1987" This rock trio from Boston, Massachusetts came to party! The band consists of Diamante herself, Neil Swanson on guitar, and Taylor Carrol on drums.

Diamante reminds me a lot of Lizzy Hale of Halestorm and Black Canary from DC Comics. I know it sounds like a strange mix but it's her! Diamante has a sweet tone with a great gruff growl. Her sparkly outfit captured the audience's attention as she and her band took the stage.

The band seemed to enjoy themselves through the set. All three musicians interacted with the audience as well as each other. During the song "1987", Neil and Taylor adorned neon sunglasses. Overall, it's a very fun band to see live! I can't wait to catch them again.


Starbenders took the stage next. The band hails from Atlanta, Georgia. Despite looking like they crawled straight out of the eighties, this band was formed in 2013. Starbenders include vocalist and guitarist Kimi Shelter, bassist Aaron Lecesne, Qi We on drums, and Kriss Tokaji on guitar.

The band has a distinct eighties aesthetic. Their merch table even had a vintage CRT TV playing promo images and snippets of music videos. Starbenders' dedication to their image is something to be admired.

Starbenders played a memorable set, including songs like "We're Not Okay," "Cherry Wine," and "Sex." A fellow audience member described them as a grungy Fleetwood Mac. The band was not my cup of tea but they put on a good show. If you're a fan of grungy rock, I think they'd be right up your alley!


Nita Strauss and her band were the last to take the stage. I have been ITCHING to see her solo since I last saw her in 2021 with Alice Cooper. At that show, I took more photos of her with my phone than Alice! LOL!

Nita's current band lineup is her soon-to-be husband, Josh Villalta on drums, Kat Scarlett on keyboard, Johnny Young on guitar, Christopher Dean on bass, and of course, Nita Strauss on lead guitar.

Her set was a perfect mix of songs from both of her solo albums, including "Mariana Trench" from her debut album "Controlled Chaos" and "Kintsugi"; which is a real tearjerker live! The breaks between songs were seamless. It was a great well-thought-out set!

Talk about a band that plays for the audience! Between songs, all members goofed around. Johnny and Dean charged at each other multiple times during the show like they were jousting. A fan also brought his Ibanez and Nita agreed to play it for a song!

Kasey Karlsen, the vocalist for Deadlands, made an appearance to sing the guest vocals for many of the songs from "The Call of the Void". Her vocals are no joke INSANE. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to snap any photos of her because of the band's first three-song policy but you gotta take my word for it!

For the final song, Kimi from Starbenders and Diamante joined Nita and Kasey on the stage to sing Victorious! Kasey taught the chant to the crowd before the song began. As the final notes played, fans threw roses onto the stage. A thank you from the fans to Nita.

Nita and her band put on a great show! I'm so glad I got to see her again. If you're ever in the mood to have your face melted off by red hot shred, check if Nita Strauss is in town!


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