Arts, Off Campus

From Tiny Garages to TD Garden: Greta Van Fleet’s Friday Night Fire

With only about 5,000 residents, Frankenmuth, Mich., the hometown of Greta Van Fleet, has a population of just one fourth of the TD Garden’s capacity of 19,580.  The group—composed of three brothers, Josh, Jake, and Sam Kiszka, and friend Danny Wagner—came a long way from its hometown roots in Frankenmuth for its Boston tour stop at the TD Garden on Friday. 

At the concert, though, Greta Van Fleet proved that numbers don’t matter. The band played with a raw and passionate energy—as if it was in the Kiszka family garage back in Michigan. Only this time the band had a near-full arena of fans to hear its intimate-feeling show. 

Opening with “The Indigo Streak,” was the only right answer. As Josh howled the lyrics “Ready for the garden,” flames erupted from backstage. 

This group isn’t just cool. In fact, it isn’t cool at all. The bandmates played with red-hot intensity and the pyro-ridden performances and painfully sweet guitar plucks prove it. 

Wagner closed out the first half of the set with a fierce and tempo-dancing drum solo lasting over five minutes. The ability of the band to swoon its crowd was as clear as Wagner’s physical drum set, which was completely transparent and had a dagger printed on the left side of the kick drum. Perhaps it was a statement, answering to those criticisms that bashfully describe them as Zeppelin copycats or derivative and unoriginal. While Josh Kiszka’s vocals certainly resemble those of Robert Plant’s, it would be ignorant to belittle the group’s devout mission of reviving that classic, bluesy hard rock rhythm.

After “Highway Tune,” Wagner’s drum solo served not just as a one-man spectacle of harmonious smashes and crashes, but as a transition for the rest of the band to get over to the acoustic stage across the venue. Josh re-appeared this time in a dark blue satin outfit, swapping from his all white shimmering satin piece from the start of the show. Guitarist Jake and bassist Sam remained in their satin blazers though obviously shirtless, while Wagner stuck with his silvery and white rope mesh tank top.

After performing “Waited All Your Life” during the acoustic set, vocalist Josh took a fan’s cap and signed it. He had every band member sign the cap before returning it to the awestruck fan in the front row. As if he hadn’t given the fans enough, Josh handed out white roses to extended hands  while atop his brother Jake’s shoulder.

The beginning of the end of the show was marked by “Fate Of The Faithful.” About 15 seconds into the introduction, a smooth and contained drumline and rhythm guitar joined the melodic keyboard. All of this doubled as a distraction from Josh changing for the third time back into more white satin garments with glittering ornaments. This time his outfit was lighter and more revealing—perhaps the band brought a little too much heat.

Jake’s guitar solo, which came right after “Fate Of The Faithful,” was the highlight of the night. Plucking his guitar as he paced up and down stage, Jake ensured both catwalks were graced with the soles of his black combat boots. His fingers gliding up and down and across his fret boards was as tantalizing as the moody red lights that painted the arena from the main stage.

Through two main sets and an acoustic interlude, Greta Van Fleet demonstrated it can strike all the notes. More importantly, the band excelled at what many other contemporary rock artists can only half-accomplish while performing live: performing consistently and energetically while still giving attention and love to their fans. 

In the lyrics of its closing set “Farewell For Now,” the Grammy-winning artists reminded TD Garden: “Gathered here tonight / Did it up just right / It’s all for you.”

September 17, 2023