Concert Review: Greta Van Fleet, May 28, Echo Beach


There’s an old showbiz adage that there is no such thing as bad publicity and while I’m sure there are some exceptions to that statement, for the most part the adage holds true. Case in point: bad publicity is 100% the only reason I started paying any attention to Greta Van Fleet in the first place.

The band had already built up a fairly decent following, but saw their profile rise while at the same time they took a bit of a hit after that now notorious Pitchfork review that absolutely savaged them made the rounds back in October. They took another hit a few months later following their SNL performance that led to more than a few folks taking a shot at them afterwards. And perhaps most devastating of all, Anthony Fantano, the self-proclaimed “intenet’s busiest music nerd,” deemed their debut album Anthem Of The Peaceful Armynot good.” The biggest tragedy of it all though is that SNL missed out on their chance to have Pete Davidson come onstage dressed up as singer Josh Kiszka to mime alongside him during the band’s performance a la John Belushi during Joe Cocker’s performance on the show back in the day. That would have been comedy gold.

I’ll admit that Greta Van Fleet is not my cup of tea – their music doesn’t really grab me and I do agree with a lot of the criticisms leveled against them. That said, I do like to keep an open mind (after all, one of my favourite shows from last year was a Molly Hatchet concert) and so I ventured out on a somewhat chilly Tuesday night to see if I could figure out just what it is that the band’s legion of fans see in them. I never did quite figure it out, but here’s a few random thoughts on the band after witnessing their first show of a two night stand at Echo Beach.

Much had been made of the band’s similarities to Led Zeppelin, specifically the blatant Robert Plant-isms of Josh Kiszka’s voice, and it’s impossible to deny, though I will note that live, his voice also often resembles that of Geddy Lee at his most Temples Of Syrinx-y. My point is this – he sure does have a real high voice.

It’s also already been pointed out by others that with his small-ish stature and head of curly hair, Josh bears some resemblance to a hobbit, so I won’t get into that, but I will say that I’m shocked that no one’s talking much about the fact that the other two brothers are basically just twin clones of Extreme guitarist Nuno Bettencourt. Prove me wrong.

And while we’re on the topic of Greta Van Fleet’s appearance, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention their personal style as a band. Though they weren’t dressed quite as elaborately as they sometimes are, the band certainly has an interesting fashion sense that was still quite evident in their stage wear on this evening and that can probably best be described as faux hippie. You can’t convince me that they didn’t get 90% of their stage clothes just from raiding the wardrobe of the cast of Godspell. You just can’t.

Finally we come to the band’s actual performance. I suppose they did put on a decent enough show that certainly had the die hard fans loving it. It wasn’t terribly interesting to me, but nothing went terribly wrong either. It was … fine, I guess. I still don’t quite get it, but if people dig it, I guess they’re allowed to. I will leave the final word on the subject, however, to some dude who I overheard talking to his friends midway through the band’s set, presumably as they headed to the gates to make an early exit:

“I love rock and roll, but that’s a knock off. I need a nice punk circle pit …”

Amen, brother. I feel you. See you in the pit!*

*Note: I will not actually see anyone anywhere near the pit. Like Danny Glover in Lethal Weapon, I am too old for that shit.

Posted on by Paul in Concerts