Greta Van Fleet returned to Dallas last night to play a sold out show at the Southside Ballroom. Founded in Frankenmuth, Michigan in 2012, the band has rapidly climbed to the top of the classic rock charts and into the hearts of fans worldwide. The Fleet brought along the American rock band Dorothy to be their supporting act for this string of shows.
I arrived at the venue just before 7pm when the doors were scheduled to open. I was greeted by venue security who were trying to clear the drive to the parking lot as the line of fans spilled into the street and down the block. I could already tell this would be a memorable night. Waves of old school rockers proudly wearing vintage Sabbath and Zeppelin tour shirts stood in unity with young, free spirits clad in tie-dye shirts and bandanas, as they all filed in together, filling the venue to capacity. If you happened to come across a couple of square feet of open real estate in the music hall, you had better claim it quick with a crowd like that.
At 8pm, the lights shut off and the stage was engulfed in darkness. A thunderous roar from the crowd echoed through the concert hall as Dorothy took the stage. Dim candles scattered across the guitar cabs and bass rig, set the mood for the eager fans. Dorothy lit a scented bundle, what I assume was sage, to cleanse the stage for the American rockers. An unexpected burst of fireworks on the stage helped ramp up the energy as the song tempos increased. Filled with catchy grooves and rock n’ roll rhythms, the set was well accepted by the fans. Dorothy’s soulful vocals projected beautifully through the PA. Slide guitar riffs created twangy blues melodies that had the crowd closing their eyes to get lost in the music. The energy from the Los Angeles based band was the perfect build up for the night’s headliner.
Chants of “Greta Van Fleet!” filled the air as it was time for the main event. After a short backing track intro of “Brave New World,” the Fleet walked on stage to deafening screams from the crowd. You couldn’t even hear yourself think. Blue backlights created beautiful silhouettes of the members as the set began. The band consists of brothers Jake Kiszka (guitars), Josh Kiszka (vocals), and Sam Kiszka (bass), while Danny Wagner (drums) rounds out the lineup. Jake led into the well-recognized guitar intro from the track “Highway Tune” that sent the crowd into a frenzy. The track, which was the band’s first ever single from their 2017 EP Black Smoke Rising, soared to the top of multiple rock charts at the time of its release. The set charged forward as the band put on a clinic of rock and roll expertise. The tracks “Edge of Darkness” and “Flower Power” had the crowd singing along and clapping their hands. From the guitar tones to the drum and bass levels, mixed with the howling vocals, everything was perfect. The sound mix was spot on. You could hear every guitar note, every symbol swell, and every hit of the drum heads. Josh kept the crowd engaged as he covered every inch of the stage. Hair was flying throughout the crowd as tambourine rhythms backed up crunchy rock riffs that would have you believing that three guitarists were on stage.
The band also presented the fans with material from their upcoming album Anthem of the Peaceful Army, which is set to release on October 19th via Republic Records. “Lover, Leaver” and “Watching Over” showed the fans that the band has no intentions of backing down from creating monstrous rock anthems going forward. With that said, “You’re the One” displayed the band’s ability to incorporate beautiful ballads, showcasing the musician’s masterful songwriting abilities. From Sam setting the bass down only to get behind a keyboard, to Jake swapping out the electric guitar for an acoustic to achieve the authentic clean tones, there was continuously something new to engage your senses. For me, the almost 2 hour set finished in the blink of an eye. And what classic rock show would be complete without a mesmerizing drum solo? If you hadn’t noticed Danny’s precision drumming throughout the night, he made sure that all eyes were on him at the end of the set. An impenetrable wall of sound filled the room as he presented a true to form rock and roll solo.
Greta Van Fleet could’ve jammed until the sun came up and I would’ve been just fine with that. If you’ve heard a song and pushed it aside because you thought the Fleet was just a Led Zeppelin rip off, I urge you to give it another chance. Though you can hear some obvious Zeppelin influences, especially in the vocal delivery, Greta Van Fleet incorporates their own individuality and flare to the mix. I have no doubt that this young band will continue to create their own legacy, under their own name. Get your tickets early to these shows, there’s a reason they continue to sell out.
– Corey Smith
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