Pittsburgh certainly loves its music, as evidenced by two highly anticipated shows playing to large crowds on Wednesday, July 18. While Panic! At The Disco was blessing everyone at PPG Paints Arena with the powerhouse talent that is Brendon Urie, I was across the Allegheny River at Stage AE on the North Shore to see Greta Van Fleet, the band that NY Daily News called “the saviors of rock’n’roll."
The sold out crowd that filled Stage AE’s outdoor lawn consisted of music fans of all ages and backgrounds. While there were plenty of Led Zeppelin t-shirts sported by fans young and old, harkening back to the ‘70s band which GVF has received much comparison, there were just as many young fans who were maybe hearing this sound and style of music for the first time. It was especially exciting to see older fans stand side by side with and amongst a younger crowd sharing in the experience of live music.
Hailing from Frankenmuth, Michigan, Greta Van Fleet consists of the Kiszka brothers, twins Josh and Jake, both 22, younger brother Sam, 19, and neighborhood friend Danny Wagner, also 19. The name of the band itself comes from a local Frankenmuth resident, Gretna Van Fleet, which the boys adapted by dropping the “n” (with her blessing) and taking off from there.
Lead singer Josh has crafted such a voice, lyricism, and overall style that makes him appear as if he was plucked straight from the 1970s and brought into the present day, but my main focus was on the other three musicians. For me, these three really stole the show and captivated my attention.
During one of their several jams during the show, it became apparent that guitarist Jake Kiszka is truly talented at his craft. I lost count of how many times his playing left me in awe, but one thing I am sure of is that he held nothing back and left everything he had on that stage.
Critics of the band have likened them to a Led Zeppelin cover band, saying that everything they do has been done before, but what I find myself drawn to is, yes, they may be stepping onto already discovered territory, but they are bringing this style of playing to a new generation and for that, I don’t really think they can be criticized. They are bringing the nostalgia factor for those who remember the classic bands, but they’re also recreating an atmosphere that was thought to be long gone for a new age of concert goers. If I learned anything from the sheer number of people at this show, it’s that people are still willing to spend both their time and money to support talented musicians playing real instruments to a live audience.
Regardless of if you think they’re the greatest thing since 1970s classic rock or they’re drudging up someone else’s style, after seeing these guys play right before my eyes, they’re the closest thing to a real rock show that I’ve ever seen.
While the band only has an 8 track double EP out for now and a highly anticipated full length on the way, only 4 established GVF songs were played. The remainder of their set was comprised of new material, a cover of “Evil” by Howlin’ Wolf, and long winding jam sessions in which Jake, bassist Sam, and drummer Danny could really show off. For just a “nostalgia” band, as many who just don’t quite get what GVF is all about would say, that’s quite a set and I’m excited to hear how their new album will play into their live show.
Photo of lead singer Josh Kiszka (above), courtesy of Jackson Fleming | IG: @jacksonhfleming