Greta van Fleet
25 May 2018
OK, so rock is dead they say. Kids don’t play guitars anymore. Rock ‘n’ roll spectacle has given way to American Idol runners-up, hip hop and choreography. Well, on this sweltering Friday evening heading into Memorial Day weekend, I begged to differ.
I had heard that one Mr. Robert Plant had recently praised some band from Michigan saying, “They are Led Zeppelin I. They have this beautiful little singer — I hate him.” But that was all I knew about Greta. Frankenmuth’s new favorite sons were taking the moribund rock world by storm, and I had no idea. One of my good classic-rock buddies was like, “We have to go see Greta van Fleet! They’re doing three nights at the Fillmore.” So I figured I’d humor him and his desperate search for exciting new rock. The Friday show had been sold out for weeks, so I pulled the one thin string I have and got us in for Gretamania.
The place was packed to the nut and it had to be 110° in the joint. If somebody opened for them, I have no idea who it was. They came on stage and absolutely exploded in my face. Granted my face was near the back by the bar where I planned to linger. The back of the house was notably full of guys my age, that is to say — old. Looked like the younger folk were down in the pit pressing up toward the stage, and I didn’t want any part of that action.
But Greta had me at hello, with the opener, “Highway Tune.” They proceeded to strut and swagger their way through their entire (albeit limited at this point) catalog. My buddy made a move to get a closer look and I was right on his heels. These kids were seriously blowing the roof off the dump. I was head-banging and shaking what’s left of my mane and losing my mind to this throw-back electric power blues machine.
You really do have to see these guys live. Three brothers — lead vocals, guitar and bass — and their buddy on drums. They’re all in their early 20s and they copped their name (with permission) from a woman in their hometown. Channeling the electric blues of Zeppelin and the Doors with the youthful energy and commitment that are the catalysts for the best of rock. They truly stand and deliver. The guitar player even played the thing behind his head at one point.
They’re the next generation of Detroit booze rock — a groovy brand of blues rock that’s hot, heavy and sweaty, born in stuffy garages, dank basements and cramped barrooms. It’s stomping and slithering and grinding, fueled and cooled by ice-cold long necks and half-barrels of local suds.
Greta have their critics who claim that they are too derivative of Zeppelin, and I agree with that. What they’ve accomplished to this point is awesome — nothing short of a rock renaissance. They only have like eight tunes recorded at this point, so I hope they find their own voice as they work out new material. Interestingly, when each member talks about influences, none of them talk about rock ‘n’ roll or blues; they’re into world music, folk, jazz. Part of me thinks these young guys are just really good musicians copping a style to make some cash. And the backing of Robert Richey (aka Kid Rock) doesn’t do much to disabuse me of that notion.
But hey, I’m an old classic-rock hack and I love what they’re doing. And they recently got a standing ovation on The Tonight Show when they played their latest tune. Good on them. Keep it going.
We’re headed up to Frankenmuth this weekend to the Splash Village indoor water park for my daughter’s seventh birthday. You know I’m grabbing the local white pages and trying to look up Greta van Fleet.
Long live rock!
This is not my eyewitness video, but this guy was right in front of us. I recognize the drink:
And their encore was super sweet, even if you skip the drum solo that starts at 10:15: