Mammoth WVH in Boston, MA – November 15, 2023
What a night for legendary guitarists and iconic bands in Boston, MA. Mammoth WVH, the brainchild of multi-talented musician Wolfgang Van Halen, and female powerhouse guitarist, Nita Strauss, rocked the jam-packed Big Night Live venue. This was no easy feat with TOOL playing on the same night, right around the corner at the TD Garden.
In the world of rock and metal, few musicians command the stage with the sheer force and skill that Nita Strauss brings to her performances. As a guitarist, songwriter, and performer, Strauss has become a symbol of modern virtuosity, breaking barriers and leaving an indelible mark on the music industry. She was known as the guitarist for Alice Cooper, but has been crafting such a successful solo career including a number one hit on the Billboard’s Mainstream Rock chart in 2022.
Nita kicked off the show in Boston with “Summer Storm”, an explosive track from her latest album, The Call of the Void. Her guitar riffs were lightning-fast which brought the crowd to life immediately. The infectious rhythms had everyone on their feet and banging their heads. Next up was her song, “Our Most Desperate Hour”, the speed in which she plays coupled with her precision had everyone absolutely awestruck. “Mariana Trench” might be Nita’s most heavy hitting track and the entire band was really head banging to this track. The audience already thought she was at her max speed with the other tracks, but this song puts her on an entirely different level. During her song, “The Quest”, Nita’s drummer and fiancé, Josh Villalta, played a powerfully passionate drum solo which was a perfect way to conclude the instrumental portion of the show.
The album Call of the Void features many guest vocalists, but of course they cannot all be out on tour, so Nita recruited TikTok star Kasey Karlsen to fill in for vocals. Karlsen had some huge shoes to fill since these vocalists ranging from Anders Fridén (In Flames) to Alissa White-Gluz (Arch Enemy) and many in between. Possibly the most well-known track on the set list was Nita’s number one hit, “Dead Inside” which normally features Disturbed’s frontman, David Draiman. When the song was played near the end of the set, Karlsen was up to the task and won over the crowd’s approval. The band finished strong with the song “Victorious”. Karlsen did a great job of keeping the crowd engaged while Nita continued to showcase her talents for the amped up crowd.
It was time for the headliners to take the stage. Frontman and lead guitarist, Wolf Van Halen emerged with a gigantic smile on his face as he saw how packed the Big Night Live venue was for him and his band. Joining him on stage was Frank Sidoris also on guitar, Jon Jourdan on rhythm guitar, Ronnie Ficaro on bass, and Garrett Whitlock on drums. The band started the night off with the track, “Right?”, from their newest album release, Mammoth II. This is their sophomore album and was only released only a few months ago. The album has already hit number one on the US Billboard Top Hard Rock Albums charts.
Wolf took some time to address the crowd to say, “Last time we were here we had a co-headlining tour. Now we’re packing this place with just us as the headliner…. and with TOOL playing next door!” Wolf has notoriously been a huge fan of the band TOOL and has wonderful stories of bringing his father, Eddie Van Halen, to a show where he went unrecognized by the TOOL fans. Wolf went on to say, “Even though you didn’t pick to listen to TOOL tonight I’m going to play my most TOOL inspired song, ‘Optimist'”.
As the night went on, Mammoth WVH played two of their hottest and well-known songs back-to-back, “I’m Alright” and “Epiphany”. Wolf was clearly taken back by the number of people belting out the songs and took some more time to connect with the crowd which their fans noticably loved. He said, “I’ve been touring in Boston since I’ve been 16 years old with my Dad’s band. I love how hungry you all are for music. I love seeing all of you sing the words. I can’t believe you know the words to these songs.” Since they just played two of their biggest hits he should come to expect his fans would know the words by now, but it truly showcased his humility. It is clear having two famous parents has never gone to his head.
Before the band went into the next song, “Think It Over”, Wolf shared with the crowd that this song was his Dad’s favorite from the band which was a touching, intimate moment. By the end of the song though the band switched gears and said, “I know what the dudes here are thinking… where is the heavy sh*t? Enough of that poppy stuff. So here’s our song ‘You’re To Blame'”. This picked the energy all the way up and had everyone headbanging along to the song and admiring the exceptionable guitar playing they were witnessing.
Finally, as the night was winding down and the band played the last song of their set, “Take a Bow” they exited the stage. The audience began to cheer for an encore as Wolf quickly came back on stage to say, “Why do we do that?” Referring to pretending to leave, but knowing they will be playing an encore. He said, “I guess that’s show biz” which the Boston crowd loved. Mammoth WVH finished the night strong with two encore performances, “Another Celebration at the End of the World” and “Don’t Back Down”. Their fanbase continues to grow with each show they play and with the success of the newest album, hopefully New England will not have to wait long for their return.