Greta Van Fleet at Rams Head Live

Less than a year ago, all Greta Van Fleet had was a four-song EP called Black Smoke Rising, and on that alone had they managed not only a single which was closing in on one million views on YouTube, but a nationwide tour that was selling out venue after venue. Fast forward to present day, a mere eight months later, and that debut single, “Highway Tune,” is at 15 million views, having spent five straight weeks at the top of the Mainstream Rock radio chart, and the band is at it again. Not only has their newest tour sold out date after date, but additional tickets were then released and they sold out once more. This was very much the case for last Wednesday’s raucous evening at Baltimore’s Rams Head Live, where children and parents alike were found mesmerized by the spectacle upon the stage.

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Dorothy, the L.A. band owing its namesake to singer Dorothy Martin, greeted an audience of bell-bottomed fans in a flowing silk robe. With the bass in the pocket and guitars packing crunching riffs, Dorothy set off to impress. Within the first three songs, she had jumped down onto the barricade, hugging a handful of fans before jumping back onstage to release one wail after the next. Halfway through the set, a technical malfunction took the lead guitar out of commission, but the show went on and as they repaired the amplifier towards the end of the tune, the venue erupted in a flurry of notes flying off the fretboard. Her album, rockisdead, is surely meant in jest, or else she missed the memo.

 

Greta Van Fleet: Official Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube

Greta Van Fleet, the Michigan-born foursome, have raised such a stir that I’ve never seen this venue more packed. Vocalist Josh Kiszka arrived bearing a bouquet of roses, and threw them individually as he made his way across the stage. For a band of young men, these gentlemen channeled the vibes of decades gone by. One man in attendance turned to me and said, “I’ve been waiting for years for a band to come along and rock like this.” Upon further investigation, he had just arrived from Austin, TX, where he had seen Van Fleet play less than a week prior. “I’m sure this’ll be just as great, or better,” he added.

Though they only have a double EP to their name, they put on quite a lengthy show. In addition to material off of From The Fires, which adds 4 songs to the previous EP, Black Smoke Rising, there was a whole slew of as-of-yet-unreleased material being played. And if that weren’t enough, the band appear to be no stranger to extensive jams; one of the members taking the helm while the rest provide a rhythmic safety net to catch them as they come down from what quite often turned into a transcendental experience. Thus, we were honored with guitar jams courtesy of Jake Kiszka, bass and organ jams thanks to Sam Kiszka, and a truly intense drum solo by way of Danny Wagner. Jake, particularly, had a way of getting entranced, unleashing sounds that traded precision for passion in all the right ways. These are things that are sure to stretch a smile from cheek to cheek, and as they travel from one sold out show to the next, it’s a recipe that hasn’t failed yet.

‘Black Smoke Rising’ EP by Greta Van Fleet

In the village of Frankenmuth, Michigan, just North of Detroit, four young men calling themselves Greta Van Fleet are re-imagining the British Invasion.  Not in the sense of Paul Revere (or Sybil Ludington, if you’d prefer), but the British Invasion of the 1960s, which saw Englishmen re-imagining American blues in their own ways.  Wouldn’t it be fun, they thought, if it were re-imagined once more, reinvigorating the sounds they love with the youth of modern day?  These three brothers – two of them twins – and their best friend are sending chills through those that hear them, rocketing up to #1 on the iTunes American and Canadian Rock Chart with their 4-song debut EP, Black Smoke Rising, and already selling out most of the dates on their upcoming headlining tour.

The name Greta Van Fleet, in honor of a Frankenmuth town elder, is just one of the unique aspects of this quartet.  While they bring a sound which has roots firmly planted in a half-century long passed, it is far from a throwback.  These musicians bring their individual personalities to the table, harnessing a vast array of inspirations, from the Motown-enthused bassist all the way to the World Music-loving vocalist.  As the influences swirl together, they form a style that is familiar, but fresh.  I will not have been the first to liken their sound to early Zeppelin, and front man Josh Kiszka’s voice bears a striking resemblance to that of Robert Plant’s, to the point of the two occasionally being indistinguishable.  This is especially evident during an emotion-filled cry at the peak of Jake Kiszka’s guitar solo in “Safari Song,” and still again as the opening lines of “Flower Power” cascade through the speakers.  Yet, by the time the EP arrives at its final track, it’s very clear that these young men are brewing up their own creations, not attempting to resell music of days-gone-by.  If I had to single out one song as my favorite, it would be that final, self-titled track, Black Smoke Rising, for the very reason that it sounds the newest.

Greta Van Fleet is a collection of young men with old souls.  Though two are barely old enough to vote, and the other two barely old enough to drink, they’ve grown wise on the records their parents shared with them, filling up on Cream, The Who, and Elvis.  The music they play is neither overly complex, nor is it underplayed, and their lyrics are warm, if not at times inspiring.  Anyone who can listen to this bunch and not be moved in some way, my condolences go to their family.  By all means, pick up this short sample of their material.  And if you’d like to do yourself one better, try to see them on tour.  Black Smoke Rising is but an appetizer of what Greta Van Fleet has in store, and they can’t wait to share it with you.

 

Buy Black Smoke Rising at: iTunes | Amazon

Catch them on tour near you, right now!

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