Seriously, Greta Van Fleet is epic. If you only want to read the first sentence of this article, you can leave now and still have gotten the gist. But read on if you want to know more about this spectacular band.
Greta Van Fleet is a relatively new band, with the four members all in their late teens or early twenties. The band is largely a family affair, which might explain the talent running in their veins. The frontman Josh Kiszka and guitarist Jake Kiszka are twins, the bassist/keyboardist Sam Kiszka is their younger brother, and the drummer Danny Wagner is a childhood friend. The four started the band in high school before being granted a record deal with the music business veteran Jason Flom’s Lava Records. With the astonishing, toe-tapping single “Highway Tune” out and followed by two EPs in 2017 reaching the top of several charts, the band attracted attention all across the rock scene. Soon they were flooded with comparisons to seventies-rock legends, with the most popular parallel being Led Zeppelin due to their similar classic rock look and sound. As the band’s music was met with widespread applaud, their fan base grew. When these early releases were combined with their spectacular live performances, they quickly skyrocketed into fame and did not keep fans waiting as they released their first debut album The Anthem of the Peaceful Army in 2018.
With their performance at Starlight Theatre in Kansas City, the band kicked off the North American leg of their tour after a time in Australia and New Zealand. As disappointing as it must’ve been to downgrade from New Zealand to Missouri, the band delivered an amazing performance. With their youth both as a band and just in age, it’s almost infuriating to see such high levels of talent and success. The guitarist Jake and bassist/keyboardist Sam are incredible to watch on stage, particularly as Jake would erupt into one of his many hair-raising guitar solos. The drummer Danny was not lacking in energy either, readily keeping up with the rest of the band’s zest and hype as they bounced around him on the stage. Frontman Josh was a dynamic force that hit some pretty impressive high notes.
Just a quick note about their fashion here- it was very seventies, which I love because I am a seventies aficionado. The band members definitely had the long voluminous hair required for the look, and the brave and loose fashion sense to go with it. Josh had poofy curls that would make Brian May proud. The bassist had on a sparkly disco shirt that I would love to borrow if I ever got the chance. In theme with the hippie message (peace and love) that the band actively promotes in their music and in media, the hippie fashion taste was definitely present. Half of the band were barefoot while the other half seems to have forgotten to put on shirts under their jackets and vest.
On to the show- The night started off with Josh bounding on stage and throwing several roses into the lucky few near the stage. This only moments before the band burst into their setlist, including a little tribute of Kansas City ( a Little Willie Littlefield cover). They played the stellar hits from their second EP From The Fires, including personal favorites of mine “Safari Song” and “Black Smoke Rising”. With rippling guitar solos and thundering drum solos, the audience was kept happy and hype through the night. Guitarist Jake will likely develop back problems eventually with all the bending backward in his solos. The rock anthems were occasionally interrupted with ballads like “Flower Power” and “You’re the One”, allowing the hippie message of peace and love came through crisp and clear to a readily accepting crowd. The frontman did something I consider impressive- he got the crowd to clap to a rhythm for more than 30 seconds. Incredible. It was a good crowd though, and that just made the show even better. I saw a lot of rock and roll hand signs throughout the night and a lot of heads bobbing up and down. It was a good scene, accentuated by the multicolor light show and fog machine set up behind the band. They played for a little over an hour before they left the stage, leaving a hungry audience. Luckily they returned after a short while for a dynamic and explosive encore with “Lover Leaver” from their new album and a song from their second EP that is admittedly my favorite from the band “Highway Tune”. Then they left and the concert was over, and I was left with a wave of adrenaline and excitement that had nowhere to go except to listen to the band over and over on repeat.
Frankly, bands like Greta Van Fleet are rare these days. At first listen, they seem less like a product of the twenty-first century and more like a baby of the seventies. The band claims a lot of musical influences from the past, pulling from different influences like the British invasion and classic blues all to create a spectacular new and crisp sound. People say rock is dying, and while I disagree with that finality I would say that rock is going lower and lower under the radar. Most of my friends only listen to whatever pop star is currently circulating. A classic rock band like Greta Van Fleet is a rare treat in the wave of new bands, and it’s especially exciting to see the band attracting a younger audience. If this is the start of a new generation of classic rock, then the next decade should be spectacular. I’m looking forward to it.