It has been a long road from their youthful musical roots and now, Greta Van Fleet may be too hot to handle!
This band is on fire and with their Dreams in Gold tour underway, they turn to an impressive pyrotechnics show to prove it. It is the kind of display Rammstein would give a thumbs up to.
The weather may have been chillier than normal the last few days, but one thing is for certain, the Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines was smoking hot thanks to the Michigan-based group Greta Van Fleet and their openers Robert Finley and Houndmouth.
The arena was packed with people of all ages. That’s the unique thing about Greta Van Fleet; their music and vibe transcends generations. Superfans had to get in line early Wednesday morning to pick-up their numbered wristband in an effort to get as close to GVF as possible in the general standing room floor. I was happy with my more conventional seat in the house to the side of the stage where I had a fantastic view and could see the openers as they made their way up the steps to the stage. GVF was sneaky and wanted a more epic entrance. More to come on that.
First up was Robert Finley. Even though he’s close to 70 years old, his voice is startlingly powerful and expressive. This soulful blues singer, who appeared on season 14 of “America’s Got Talent,” can take you down a vocal path like never before.
In his half-hour set, he performed a few of his hits like “Better Than I Treat Myself” and “Make Me Feel Alright,” but it was the song “Souled Out On You” that really got the crowd screaming for more. Well, that and his swagger dance moves when he’s gettin’ down and dirty. At the end of his set, Finley said he’d stick around for a bit to take photos and sign memorabilia for his fans. Now that’s humble man.
When Houndmouth took the stage and tried to hit their first note, only to find it quiet, it did not derail the true professionals that Matt Myers, Caleb Hickman, Zak Appleby and Shane Cody are one bit. They took it in stride and demonstrated complete composure while they waited for it to get fixed, and then gave one incredible performance.
I know they’ve been around for 10 years now, but if you haven’t listened to their music, you should. I have a new favorite song on my playlist; well, two actually, “Sedona” and “Honey Slider,” both of which were part of their set. Houndmouth also played “Palmyra,” “Darlin,’” and “My Cousin Greg.” The group has a lot of fun with one another onstage and they give off a true garage band kind of feel that you can’t help but smile about. But like all good things, they must end. Houndmouth had to call it a night and let more greatness come as Greta Van Fleet prepared to take the stage.
WELL FARGO ARENA
Des Moines, Iowa
September 6, 2022
As the lights brightened in the Wells Fargo Arena, you could see the massive crowd. A dark black curtain with “The Battle at Garden’s Gate” symbols fell down around the stage and the audience went crazy with excitement; decibel levels were off the charts with their screams. To the right I could see a handful of hopeful attendees lined up along the edge of the section, vying for a chance to see the band members come out and climb the stage steps to disappear behind the curtain. A monologue erupted from the sound system, teasing the fans. It felt like an eternity before the official GVF unveil and those first few notes were played.
And then it happened. You could hear Josh Kiszka’s voice quietly tempting the crowd. The guitars wailed, the drums tantalized the audience, the curtain dropped to the ground, the crowd shrieked and the arena lights streamed red while they played their first song of the night, “Built by Nations.” Drummer Danny Wagner was elevated on the stage.
Josh could be seen in his signature ‘70s jumpsuit with a white shimmering robe adorning his body in a virtuous fashion. Jake Kiszka, guitarist, pranced across the stage as he played.
Fire erupted from the stage as the pyrotechnics went off. A treat that continued through the show at various times, each one astonishing the audience.
During “Safari Song,” Wagner had a killer drum solo, and in “Light My Love,” Sam Kiszka showed off his diverse musical talents when he switched from the bass guitar to the piano. Before the band played “Broken Bells,” as they did with a few of the songs, Josh described the intent and said this one was an introspective song for when things seem broken, a strange hand of cards is given, or when you realize that things are formative in life, this shows you there is something underneath. GVF also played “Age of Machine,” “Caravel,” “Heat Above,” and “The Weight of Dreams.”
The crowd pined for an encore and GVF did not leave them wanting more. Their encore performance included three songs (“Age of Man,” a cover of “Rollin’ and Tumblin,’” and a reprise of “Highway Tune”).
Their performances are surreal. GVF loves to play and make their fans feel special; it’s the little things that make a big difference when they’re in concert.
The barefoot Josh climbed off the stage onto the shoulders of a man while he passed out white flowers and touched hands with those in the front of the pit. He tossed the tambourine he had just used out into the sea of people. His outfit selection through the show brings the right amount of flare to the song choices.
During the encore, he encouraged the crowd to throw trinkets on the stage. He wrapped a pink boa from a fan around his neck while he sang, and then wrapped it around Wagner so he could get yet another boa from a fan to adorn his current attire. The atomic bomb of smoke that erupted from the pots used for the pyrotechnics was epic. The fog that surrounded Jake as he shred the guitar was wicked, but the best part was at the very end when he played the guitar behind his head and made it look effortless hitting all the right strings and chords.
This was an epic show. If you can ever get to a Greta Van Fleet concert, you should. My only caution to you is that it will be loud and there will be lots of strobe lights which only intensify the majesties of their performance.
SoCal can check them out at the Honda Center in Anaheim on November 11th. You can also catch them in December opening for Metallica at the Microsoft Theatre.