Nita Strauss Shreds the Night Away At the Whisky

By Brandon “B-Mac” McCarthy, Photos by Matt “Rabit” Martinez Red Hare Images

It has been over two years since I have been to the world famous Whisky a-Go Go. The show was Sebastian Bach performing all the songs from Skid Row’s self-titled debut album. What made it even more special was that the fans begged him to perform songs from Slave to the Grind, and he ended up performing the whole album. That was a night at the Whisky I would never forget. Since then, my father passed away, COVID-19 shut down live performances, and we were all living in mental turmoil. Luckily, things are starting to go back to normal and the clubs in LA are back in business. Then I heard guitar Goddess “Hurricane” Nita Strauss would be performing at the Whisky on November 18 as part of her Winter Wasteland tour. Seeing this as my ultimate return to the Sunset Strip, Rabit and I headed out LA for an evening of headbanging rock ‘n’ roll.

We arrived just in time for the second opening act Abby K. Fronted by the stunning 18 year old bassist (named Abby K of course, LOL), they performed their hearts out for the LA crowd. They have a very crispy, melodic heavy rock vibe where Abby K not only grooves on the bass, her angelic voice lit up. Rounding out the group is the guitar duo of Crispy Borell and Diego Vargas, and drummer Troy Luccketta. Both Vargas and Borell brought lethal heavy metal riffs to the beat while Vargas laced them with tasty solos. With songs like “Dodging A Bullet (I Swear),” “Rock the Rock,” “I Thought That I Loved You,” “It Should Have Been Me,” and “Pay Attention” under their belt, Abby K showed the Whisky how rockers from North Carolina get down. They performed a good set that night, and I look forward to seeing them again down the line.

Full Abby K gallery below:

Up next was The Mendenhall Experiment. I have been following these guys since I first saw them at Metal Night with Prong and Huntress in 2017. Brandon Mendenhall continues to shine as a guitar player, showing everyone that not even Cerebral Palsy can keep him from performing heavy metal thunder. The recent documentary about Brandon’s journey, Mind Over Matter, has put him in a whole new light, showing that no obstacle is impossible to overcome. This is the first time seeing them with new frontwoman Alyce Hayes, and boy can this girl sing. Mike Lira was raging bombastic solos, all the while bassist Nathan Stockton and drummer Justin Luebeck kicked ass on the groove section. From “Seize the Day,” to “Prosthetic” (recorded with Korn’s Munky on guitar), “Nothing Good Came Easy,” and “Unwanted,” the Mendenhall Experiment owned the Whisky crowd. I am proud to call Brandon my friend, and I am happy to see how far both he and his group have come.

Full The Mendenhall Experiment gallery below:

After a quick dinner at Rainbow Bar & Grill, Rabit and I made it back just in time for the Hurricane herself. Nita Strauss is mesmerizing on the guitar as she slashes and slays each fret with ease, starting with the Power Rangers theme. Backing up the Hurricane on this tour were keyboardist Katt Scarlett, drummer Josh Villalta, bassist Christopher Dean, and second guitarist Johnny Young. They performed a slew of great stuff, mostly from Nita’s hit debut album, Controlled Chaos. From “Mariana Trench” to “Alegria,” “Lion Among Wolves,” “The Stillness at the End,” “The Quest,” “Pandemonium,” and “Our Most Desperate Hour,” the heavy metal beat was in full swing. She even performed the Alice Cooper classic, “Feed My Frankenstein.” I was really hoping Alice would pop out and sing the tune, but that was not meant to be. Black Satellite’s Larissa Vale took to the microphone and killed it. Her best song of the night, with exception to the closer, was her version of Queen’s “The Show Must Go On,” my favorite song from the rock legends. For her last song, Nita surprised the crowd by having Disturbed’s David Draiman come out and sing “Dead Inside,” the newest collaboration between Nita and Draiman. His voice never ceases to amaze me as he brought the house down.

Full Nita Strauss gallery below:

It felt so great to be back at my favorite spot on the Sunset Strip. Nita is still a force to be reckoned with. She announced that she would have a new album out soon that will feature her favorite singers, which will include Draiman. Our only regret for the evening was missing Black Satellite, but we will see them soon enough as I am sure they dazzled the crowd that evening. No matter how much time has passed because of the pandemic, rock ‘n’ roll will always come roaring back. We will be heading back to the Whisky on November 24 for Gemini Syndrome. Look out 2021, we ending your shitty ass year with a bang. To Nita Strauss, the Mendenhall Experiment, and Abby K, I salute you. Horns up!!!

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