Greta Van Fleet: A Concert Review

By Kohan Eybergen

 

Check out this great new band, you’ll love them, they sound a lot like Zeppelin!” – My dad, circa 2017.

Not exactly a comparison that leaves you thinking, “ehh, they might be alright,” and man, did Greta Van Fleet not disappoint. Directly after listening to “Highway Tune” and “Safari Song” for the first time, I immediately had to look up some videos of live performances. In this age of mass production of music, I was thinking that that there was absolutely no way that this band sounded this good live, especially the lead singer, Josh Kiszka’s, voice.

Yeah, they’re that good. They’re better than good. After spending a few hours watching Greta Van Fleet live shows, I was determined that I needed to see them in person. And finally, a year and a half later, they were scheduled to play in Edmonton at the Shaw Conference center.

At the Shaw, the first thing that struck me was the disorganization of the entrance lines. Clearly the venue wasn’t prepared for the crowd size, as there were no rope dividers or anything like that for the entrances or the merch lines. The next thing that I noticed was the diversity of age in the crowd. There was probably about a sixty year spread between the youngest and oldest fans, and every age in between. It was fascinating; I’ve never been to a concert that had such a wide demographic in fan age. It was also super cool to see so many parents with their kids bonding over music.

Once inside, it wasn’t long until the opening act, Dorothy, started their set. Dorothy is a hard/blues rock group from California, and oh man did they make an impression on myself as well as the rest of the crowd. I won’t go on about them in this article due to lack of space, but I would highly recommend checking them out if you enjoy rock music.

As Greta Van Fleet walked on stage, the crowd was going nuts with cheers, applause, and a general rush to the front of the standing area, packing people together shoulder to shoulder. The band all looks very 70s: leather, flowers, feathers, headbands, long hair, a general lack of shoes and shirts, and they looked fantastic!

They open with “Highway Tune,” their first single from their debut EP. The opening riff is monstrous in the confines of the Shaw, and Josh Kiszka’s scream prepares the audience for the blues rocker they’re about to witness. The crowd reacts immediately with screams and cheers, and continued to dance and headbang throughout the rest of the show. The energy in the place was truly amazing, both from the band and the fans.

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Photo credit: Jesse Yon Fong
(Instagram: @Nineteen87Photography)

Jake Kiszka’s opening guitar for “Edge of Darkness” begins shortly followed by Sam Kiszka’s killer bass, and Danny Wagner’s precise drumming. An excellent follow up to “Highway Tune,” it keeps the energy levels up. Both of the first two songs are also extended to about ten minutes each, and the band jams on seamlessly and comfortably throughout them–another thing that can be compared to the jam bands of the late sixties and seventies (think Grateful Dead). After some banter with each other and the crowd, Greta Van Fleet moves into the warm-sounding love song “Flower Power,” (my personal favourite) the organ outro of which should sound familiar to Zeppelin fans.

They follow with another love song, “You’re The One,” an unreleased tune with the same warm folk feel as “Flower Power.” Then they do a blistering cover of Howlin’ Wolf’s classic blues song “Evil,” which is met with thunderous applause and cheers. It is also notable that it’s the only cover song in Greta Van Fleet’s setlist from the show, all the other songs are original material–not an easy feat from a band that only has two EPs and two singles from their upcoming album out.  

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Photo credit: Jesse Yon Fong
(Instagram: @Nineteen87Photography)

After another unreleased and rather dark, mystical-sounding track called “Thunderstomp,” the two singles off of the upcoming October 19th album Anthem of the Peaceful Army, “Watching Over” and “When the Curtain Falls” are performed. “Watching Over” is particularly interesting since it’s about climate change, and showcases some of the band’s most meaningful lyrics yet, which is promising for a new band who’s first EP consisted of songs with less sophisticated lyrics about relationships with girls (although the Zeppelin comparison is played out, think the first Zeppelin album and tracks like “You Shook Me” and “I Can’t Quit You Baby”). Both new songs are met with a warm welcome from the fans.

For the encore, Greta Van Fleet did two fantastic extended performances of “Black Smoke Rising” and “Safari Song.” In fact, the majority of the songs they performed were extended due to the limited amount of material they have released so far.

Overall, the show was absolutely amazing. The Shaw may not be the best-suited venue for a rock band due to the lack of sound quality, but the performance of the band combined with the energy of both the band and the fans made the show a truly fantastic experience. For more quality photographs of the Greta Van Fleet show and other shows and events in the Edmonton area, make sure to check out and follow my friends Nineteen87photography on Instagram!  

 

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