It’s really rare for a new band to completely blow me away but that’s exactly what happened the first time I heard Greta Van Fleet. When they burst onto the scene early last year, they took the music world by surprise with their own brand of rock-n-roll. We missed them in concert last Fall but we were in attendance along with a sold out crowd at Dallas’ House of Blues on Wednesday night. With a headlining spot on an American tour this year, these four young guys from Minnesota are trying to cement their place in music history.
Rock outfit Dorothy had the pleasure of warming the audience up and if you haven’t seen them yet – it’s a date you should put on your calendar. Vocalist Dorothy Martin can sing with the best of them while her band was very proficient in support. Their brand of hard rock/blues harkens back to yesteryear with flowing melodies punctuated by searing guitar riffs and feel-good rhythm. Her rich, deep and sultry vocals highlighted tunes “White Butterfly”, “Ain’t Our Time to Die” and “Pretty When You’re High” while her band launched into a great extended jam session during “Who Do You Love”. Dorothy is quite the free-flowing, psychedelic songstress as she playfully interacts with the audience and even sits on the front of the stage to get closer to her fans. A couple of other standout songs included the hard core jam tune “Down to the Bottom” and the set closing, bluesy rock hit “Freedom”.
There is a lot to like about Great Van Fleet and seeing them live in concert only makes it all so much more obvious. Vocalist Josh Kiszka’s trademark screams and howls are magnified tenfold in a live setting while guitarist Jake Kiszka’s skill becomes overly evident when he gets to step into the spotlight. The third brother of the group, bassist Sam Kiszka, gets to show off his dual talents on the bass and the keyboards while drummer Danny Wagner expands his repertoire mightily behind the kit. Opening with their #1 hit from last year, “Highway Tune”, GVF got the audience rocking and rolling from the first note. This song in particular comes across even better live than it does on the radio because all of the guys added their own personal touches to make it soar. Resulting in one of the loudest ovations in recent memory – this song set the tone for the rest of their fabulous set.
“Edge of Darkness” was groovy & had an awesome guitar solo courtesy of Jake, “When the Cold Wind Blows” highlighted Josh’s considerable (and effortless) vocal changes while “Talk on the Street” was simply stunning. The unbridled joy and enthusiasm coming from these four guys was highly contagious as the audience rarely ever lost their roar. Sam set the bass down for a few minutes as he delighted the crowd with some great key work as Josh once again sent his vocals into a new stratosphere (it seriously gave me goosebumps) during “Flower Power”. The Howling Wolf cover “Evil” was nailed near perfectly as their expertise belies their young ages and “Lover Leaver Taker Believer” actually turned it up a notch or two on the hard & heavy meter. Stepping off the stage and leaving the audience to scream for more – there was no doubt in my mind that they would return for an encore.
Emerging once again to give their fans more of what they came for, GVF thrilled us all with a fantastic “Black Smoke Rising” and a smashing “Safari Song”. They left me with a much greater understanding of who they are and what their music is about. Josh’s vocals are almost too good to believe and Jake nearly stole the whole show every time he stepped forward to rip into another guitar solo. I see a very bright future for these guys (check out their list of sold out shows all over the world) and hope that every real music fan gets a chance to hear more from them. At the end of the day, I’m a real music fan = I like to hear all of the little sounds, noises and special moments that make up a song and Greta Van Fleet satisfied that desire and then some.
Photo Credit: Brian Ullrich @ Musicblendonline