Rock ‘n’ Roll music as a whole has been in a bit of a lull over the past few years, at least in the mainstream. Indie and pop rock had become the music of choice of most young adults, and rock radio itself has been filled with manufactured “jock rock” bands that all sound 100% identical. Rock music needs a shot in the arm, and as I have stated in the past, Greta Van Fleet is just the band we need to do that.
Hailing from Frankenmuth, Michigan, the brothers Kiszka (Jake, Josh, Sam) and friend, Danny Wagner, to bring back that smooth blues rock sound made popular by the likes of Zeppelin, The Who, etc. Last summer I had the incredible honor of watching these young men open for The Struts. They absolutely blew me away. Their sound was something I hadn’t heard from any modern band since maybe Wolfmother. I immediately purchased their four-song EP, “Black Smoke Rising” and played it out non-stop. Little did I know that this was just the beginning of something beautiful.
After picking up and selling out multiple headlining shows, at the end of 2017 Greta Van Fleet released a double EP titled “From the Fires”. The disc included the four incredible tracks from the original EP along with four new cover tracks showcasing the bands earliest musical influences. Our review of that EP can be found here >
Now it’s 2018, and on the back of a mere 8 song double EP, Greta Van Fleet is selling out venue after venue. What is it about their sound that makes it so infectious? Are they truly the next big thing or a simple novelty “nostalgia” act? Spoiler alert, these guys are the real deal. Now join me as I had the chance to check out Greta Van Fleet’s headlining show at Rams Head Live in Baltimore, Maryland.
As I first enter the venue I can already feel the magic in the air. This is definitely unlike most of the shows I attend. Usually when I look at a lineup I know the exact demographic of who is going to be in attendance. That wasn’t the case with tonight. True rock music transcends across the population. It breaks barriers, and this was the case at Rams Head as people from all walks of life have gathered to have a fantastic night filled with incredible tunes.
When I first heard that “Dorothy” was opening I was a little hesitant. Two years ago I caught her set at a bar in Dewey Beach, Delaware and was really underwhelmed. It felt as though she was trying to grasp onto the generic “I’m a badass chick” shtick that is ever so popular with female fronted bands. I felt as though she had no real identity, she was just the next manufactured leading lady for *insert backing band here*. So when she took the stage on this night I was in complete shock. Gone was the skin tight leather and multiple crotch chops throughout the set. As she let the incense burn from her fingertips she had the crowd in her grasp. A group that I had once referred to as “Halestorm-light” had completely won me over. Dorothy Martin’s movements and new vocal stylings reminded me of a reincarnated Janis Joplin, now that’s some praise! They released their latest album, “28 Days in the Valley” this past March, I highly recommend everyone pick it up.
I was in my glory as this was one of the few nights where only one supporting act stood between myself and the headliner. I know this may sound negative, but hey I work at a school, late nights aren’t what they used to be. At about 9:30 Greta Van Fleet took the stage. Little did I know that this was going to be much less of a rock concert, and more like a life changing experience.
As the boys first took the stage you just knew you were in for a “once in a lifetime” show. Jake (guitar) and Sam (bass) begin dueling that opening lick for the bands early single, “Highway Tune”. There I stand, mouth agape as Josh (vocals) grabs the mic and dives into that opening howl. To say that I had chills would be underselling it. From the first song to the final song, every track was played as if it was their last. It felt as though at the end of every song they were going to give the old, “Thank you and good night”! Every song shined. It wasn’t just a concert, it was a cohesive set that stood as a whole. Each sound seamlessly blending into the next, all with Wagner (drummer) in the driver’s seat making sure the group remained on the road. While still being a young band, the four command an attention like no other modern group. If they walk into a room, you better make damn sure your eyes are on them. From the opening track the band took the audience through many of our personal favorites, a couple of cover songs, and some unreleased material I hope to hear very soon. The boys closed out the night with fan favorites, “Black Smoke Rising” and “Safari Song.”
I cannot praise these guys enough! Greta Van Fleet is a band unlike any other in the current rock community, and they’re here to say. To see the progress they’ve made in less than a year is mind blowing. I could be prouder of this hard working band.
Greta Van Fleet will be touring throughout the summer in both the US and Europe. For our local fans, they’ll be around the DC area come July. However, both nights are already sold out! For the latest up to date news on what GVF will be doing next be sure to check out the bands official website at www.gretavanfleet.com.
The Phenomenal Dylan Lyles is an obsessive fan of cinema, pro wrestling, horror, vinyl, and comic books. Bursting from the womb in 1992, Dylan’s surrounded himself with all things geek culture. Earliest memories include Wrestlemania 11, ‘The Death of Superman,’ and Jason Voorhees emerging from the waters of Camp Crystal Lake. You may see him sharing his opinion on just about everything on the internet or maybe even working the crowds at pop culture events up and down the east coast. You love him and he loves you!