This was one of the most anticipated shows of the year, as the phenomena known as GRETA VAN FLEET made their way to the Vegas bright lights and played to a sold out show at The Joint inside the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. There was a genuine buzz in the air from the fans that arrived early to get a spot up front, and the merch line was long and steady outside as the line grew and snaked around the Hard Rock to get into the show.
Shannon and the Clams from Oakland was the opener for the night, and this band was quite the contrast to Greta Van Fleet. They were dressed in retro rockabilly clothes which matched their sound perfectly - they are a rockabilly and do-wop band that that sounds like they could be straight from the 50’s or early 60’s, but with a modern edge. I am not sure the crowd knew what to think of these guys, but by the end of their set they had definitely won some new fans.
After a short break it was time to see what Greta Van Fleet was all about. For such a young band to sell out the Joint is quite a feat, and one thing I noticed was the crowd was made up of a mix of young and old fans - the younger fans there because the band has a sound and look that captured their imaginations, and the older crowd there to hear and re-live the near sound of one of the greatest bands in rock history, Led Zeppelin.
As the lights went down the roar of the crowd was deafening, and the shrieks from the young girls who crammed against the barricade grew louder and louder. Fans in the front and scattered throughout the floor held homemade signs from all over the country, and screamed as the band took the stage. Vocalist Josh Kiszka came running out wearing a gold genie looking top and pants, with a handful of white roses that he tossed into the waiting hands of the lucky fans near the front, and like a wedding bride tossing a bouquet, it caused a frenzy. GVF opened with the rocking “When the Curtain Falls” which had the crowd screaming even louder, and Josh was smiling non-stop ear to ear at the reaction. Without stopping between, guitarist and brother Jake Kiszka started playing the very recognizable chords from the first single released from the band, “Highway Tune”, and got the biggest reaction of the night.
Greta Van Fleet is comprised of three brothers, Josh Kiszka (vocals), guitarist Jake Kiszka, bassist Sam Kiszka, and drummer Danny Wagner, and the comparisons to Zeppelin are legit - GVF has the same groove and phrasings in the music and the lyrics, and the way Josh sings is reminiscent of how early
Zeppelin sounded live. But in concert I found that Josh has a different tone than Robert Plant, and he really does not seem to emulate Plant live as much as people think, although he has said that Zeppelin was an influence, and guitarist brother Jake Kiska has said in interviews he spend a great deal of time studying Zep guitarist Jimmy Page, and it seems apparent in the tunes.
I can tell you this, Josh Kiszka can sing. His voice booms out across the venue, and his stage presence is fantastic for such a young frontman. In the middle of their set GVF played a John Denver cover of “The Music Is You”, which I thought was pretty interesting choice from a group of such young musicians, and as the show went on the enthusiasm from the fans never waned, everyone stayed until the very end as GVF finished the set with “Safari Song” before exiting the stage to the loud cheers and screams of their adoring fans. They returned soon after, and encored with “Lover, Leaver (Taker, Believer)”, that turned into an extended blues jam to close out the night. Greta Van Fleet is a rare band that has crossed over and captured the imagination of fans both young and old, and had a superb debut in Las Vegas.
GRETA VAN FLEET Setlist:
When the Curtain Falls
Black Smoke Rising
Watch Me The Music Is You You're the One
Age of Man
Black Flag Exposition
Lover, Leaver (Taker, Believer)
Greta Van Fleet Photos from Harold Mountain / JusyAFanPhotos
Shannon and the Clams photos from Harold Mountain / JustAFanPhotos