Review & Photos by Greg Hamil for MPM
Late fall in the Midwest comes with a chill in the air that has brought an end to the outdoor shows and has brought everything back indoors. But that doesn’t stop the rockers from flocking to the shows no matter what mother nature throws at us.
What a way to start the fall/winter concert season though, as Mammoth WVH & Nita Strauss roll into Milwaukee, WI for the first night off the Mammoth II Tour. As with any opening night, it doesn’t come without a few hiccups. But they are resolved quickly, and the show kicks off without any delays!
Nita Strauss kicked off the show with the explosive track ”Summer Storm” from her latest album The Call of the Void. Her guitar riffs were lightning-fast and precise as the crowd came to life immediately. The infectious rhythm had everyone on their feet jumping in place and banging their heads.
For the next four songs, Strauss returned to her first album, Controlled Chaos. Blasting into “Our Most Desperate Hour”, her fingers flew across the fretboard so fast, you would think it would burst into flames.
Next was “Mariana Trench”! A heavy hitting anthem that showcased Strauss’ prowess on the guitar. The effortless precision of her playing sent shivers down the spines of the entire crowd.
Finishing out the Controlled Chaos portion of the set, she melted the faces off the crowd with “Alegria” and “The Quest”. The latter of which featured a drum solo by Strauss’ fiancé, Josh V. This also ended the instrumental portion of the show.
The Call of the Void features many guest vocalists, but for obvious reasons they couldn’t all be at the show. So, to fill in on vocals for the tour, Strauss brough Tik Tok sensation Kasey Karlsen along to fill in. The rest of the band included ex-Femme Fatale keyboardist, Katt Scarlett, Christopher Dean on bass, and Johnny Young on rhythm guitar.
The band powered through “The Wolf You Feed” and “Through the Noise”, with Karlsen’s vocals soaring through the room, while Strauss’ crunchy riffs and stadium rock solos shook the room to its foundations.
As the set neared its end, Strauss belted into her hit song, “Dead Inside” (that featured David Draiman of Disturbed on vocals), bringing everyone to their feet with devil horns raised and heads banging. Karlsen did such a great job on vocals that even Draiman would have been proud of!
To close out the set, the band cranked out the triumphant anthem “Victorious”. Karlsen had the crowd chanting “Victorious” at the right moments, while Strauss showcased her exceptional talent and ability to connect with the crowd with only a guitar!
As the final notes rang out, Nita Strauss and the band took their final bows and left the audience in a state of exhilaration. She is a true force to be reckoned with and her performance at The Rave was a night to be remembered!
SETLIST: Summer Storm – Our Most Desperate Hour – Mariana Trench – Alegria – The Quest – The Wolf You Feed – Through the Noise – Dead Inside – Victorious
Now, it is a rare night when you see a band where the vocals take a back seat to the guitar playing. But two bands with that in common in one night is truly a once in a lifetime occurrence!
Mammoth WVH features Wolfgang Van Halen (son of the legendary Eddie Van Halen) on vocals and lead guitar. Joining him on stage is Ronnie Ficaro on bass, Garrett Whitlock on drums, Jon Jourdan on rhythm guitar, and Frank Sidoris on rhythm/lead guitar.
Mammoth WVH strolls onto the stage and immediately launches into the live debut of “Right?”. The song sets the tone for the evening. The band was tight and energetic. Wolfgang’s vocals were on point and soaring. This was followed up with “Mammoth”. A heavy hitting song that showcased Wolfgang’s impressive guitar skills.
The band then ripped into rock anthem “Miles Above Me”. The crowd sang along while swaying to the beat and pounding their fist in the air.
Mammoth WVH picked up the tempo with “Like a Pastime,” a catchy rock anthem that had the crowd dancing and singing along. This was quickly followed up with the live debut of “Optimist”. The song had a heavy bass riff along with haunting vocals from Wolfgang. The song was well received by the crowd, with extended applause and cheering at the end.
The band took a brief pause while Wolfgang welcomed everyone to the show and asked how everyone was doing. He seemed to stumble over his words a little, then laughed and said, “It’s been a while since I have had to talk on stage”. This drew a laugh from the crowd, yet also brought the feel of the show to a more personal level.
The band then played “Stone,” a slower bluesy track once again showcasing Wolfgang’s vocals. This led straight into “I’m Alright,” a stadium rock song that had the entire crowd headbanging and singing along.
After playing “Epiphany” and “Think It Over,” the band slowed things down a bit, to play “Distance,” featuring an acoustic guitar solo by Wolfgang. The song is a tribute to his father, who died of a stroke after years of battling throat cancer. The crowd lit up their phones and held them high for the duration of the song.
Keeping things a little slower, the band plays “Waiting,” a song about anxiety and depression. The song kind of a pop rock vibe to it. But it also features Wolfgang’s fantastic vocal abilities. The crowd dances to the beat of the song and cheers loudly as it comes to an end.
Mammoth WVH picks up the pace as theyclose out the set with “You’re to Blame”, “Feel”, and “Take a Bow”. All of which feature the talent of the entire band, from the solos to the vocals and harmonies.
After an extended round of applause and chanting the band’s name, Mammoth WVH returned to the stage to perform “Don’t Back Down” and “Another Celebration at the End of the World”. Both hard hitting, in-your-face metal songs. The crowd banged their heads and even opened up a mosh pit to expend that last bit of energy.
As Mammoth WVH left the stage, the crowd roared in appreciation. It was clear that they had just witnessed a special performance. Overall, you couldn’t ask for a better kick off to a great tour! There are lots of dates to come and I would highly recommend that you don’t miss this show!
SETLIST: Right? – Mammoth – Miles Above Me – Like a Pastime – Optimist – Stone – I’m Alright – Epiphany – Think It Over – Distance – Waiting – You’re to Blame – Feel – Take a Bow – Don’t Back Down – Another Celebration at the End of the World