REVIEW: Greta Van Fleet Shine Again in NJ

Well, well, well, it finally happened. The moment I’ve been waiting for has finally arrived. That moment would be up-and-coming (am I still allowed to call them that when they’ve sold out every show they’ve played?) rockers Greta Van Fleet finding their fucking stage presence!

Look, I’ve seen them three times now. Once at Mercury Lounge and before that in the basement of a restaurant at a Lava Records showcase for industry people, and both times they looked exactly like what they are: a group of kids in a band that just happened to blow up, making them an overnight sensation. This time, however, they went to Starland Ballroom in New Jersey and I followed, and they actually looked very comfortable on stage, playing like the rockstars they’re on the verge of becoming, including guitarist Jake Kiszka shredding away for a good 5 minutes as GVF played an extended version of Edge of Darkness, which, by the way, is a fantastic tune. What’s even better, aside from the band finally being able to afford their own lights, is that they’ve got about a dozen songs of their own now, which is close to a full-length album, so I’m hoping we get one this year or next.

Anyway, the sold-out crowd full of Led Zeppelin burnouts from the 60’s couldn’t have been happier when the band went on and opened up with their debut single Highway Tune before the previously-mentioned extended riff, and then going right into When the Cold Wind Blows, Talk on the Street, Mountain of the Sun and Lover Leaver Taker Believer, among others, with the boys dancing around like rockstars while Josh Kisza wailed away as brother Jake shredded behind his back, over his head, dancing in circles while jamming behind his back and looking like a genuine badass. Let’s not forget the other Kisza brother, Sam, on bass guitar who looks like he’s having the time of his life every time the band takes the stage, and drummer Danny Wagner, who I have referred to several times as the second coming of John Bonham, and who impresses me more and more every time I see these kids.

Apparently, Greta Van Fleet are playing encores now, another sign that they’re coming into their own on stage and finally feeling like they belong in the spotlight. With a show already as incredible as this one before the encore, what more could a couple of kids who are barely old enough to drink – and two that aren’t – give? The answer was Black Smoke Rising and Safari Song – my two favorite GVF songs – along with yet another ass-kicking drum solo from Wagner to end the night in true rockstar fashion. Greta Van Fleet are finally looking like they know they belong on stage, in front of all these people, night after night, rather than the kids they looked like less than year ago when I first saw them. They’re coming into their own as musicians, and after seeing the kids perform three times in 10 months, I can say that it is an absolute joy to watch them evolve as musicians, and watching them grow up on stage is a sight to behold.

Greta Van Fleet are back out this way for Panorama in July. Until then, check out the photo gallery from Jersey.

Jake Kiszka and the rest of Greta Van Fleet have finally found their stage presence. Starland Ballroom 5/11/18