In an era where hip-hop dominates the charts and rock music is proclaimed by some to be ‘dead’, Greta Van Fleet has carved a niche for themselves, indebted to the classic rock titans of years past. But let’s put the comparisons aside and look at the numbers. Each of their songs have been played millions of times on Spotify, they’ve performed in front of massive festival crowds at Coachella and Shakey Knees, and they’ve sold out the 6,000-capacity Anthem in DC. And through all this, they haven’t even released their debut album yet. Yes, they got very popular very fast. To think that they were playing the 150-capacity DC9 only eleven months ago.
Our previous review has covered the band’s appeal in detail - there are shades of Lynyrd Skynyrd, Deep Purple, and yes, Led Zeppelin, in their music. But what’s worth discussing more is how they have taken advantage of the massive change in scenery. Specifically, Jake and Sam Kiszka. The brothers ran back and forth across the stage with aplomb, doling out bluesy guitar riffs and bass lines for the crowd. Some might call it ‘trying too hard,’ but others will call it a hearkening back to rock’s heyday. Their rampant on-stage energy and constant hair flips was a stark contrast to Josh’s relatively muted stage presence as the lead singer, who limited himself to a clawed hand in the air and some tambourine playing. (Side question: what’s with the fake British accent in-between songs, Josh?) But by kicking off the set with “Highway Tune,” he made sure the crowd knew from the start that he has one of the most outstanding voices of the up-and-coming musical class. And not a song went by without a few Plant-esque yells, almost to the point where you might start getting worried about his vocal cords.
As much derision as the band has received for cribbing from the old rock greats, it makes sense that they’ve found a huge following (even if it’s a massive brofest/boomerfest.) With a shrinking stable of touring classic rock bands in 2018, Greta Van Fleet offers the kind of rock show that is hard to come by these days. They each play their respective instruments with absolute bravado and conviction. The guitar solo during “Edge of Darkness” and drum solo during set closer “Safari Song” proved that they have a lot of musical potential waiting to be uncovered in new music. (Though to be honest, they don’t need to spend five minutes on guitar and drum solos.) They’re just giving the people what they want: a young, upstart band playing straight-up rock music. Are they pushing the envelope? No. Are they a fun band to watch? Of course. Cue the headbangers and the peanut gallery.
Greta Van Fleet’s debut album will be released later this year through Republic Records, and their EP From the Fires is available now.
Opening for Greta Van Fleet was CLOVES, an Australian singer whose voice is deeply reminiscent of Lana Del Rey and Fiona Apple. Her latest release is the single “Wasted Time” through Universal Music Australia.