There are many things that are polarizing in the world today. Half of my neighbors won’t go near the State Fair. Are the Vikings going all the way this year? Cilantro. I’m not even going to get into politics. Then there is Greta Van Fleet. The critics argue they just sound like Led Zeppelin. Many of these critics aren’t old enough to remember the rap on Zeppelin, that they just ripped off American blues players, just playing the same riffs electrified. I would argue that there are very few bands that don’t borrow from the past, but make it their own. Flamboyant frontman, lengthy guitar and drum solos are the DNA of rock and roll. Greta Van Fleet is the latest mutation of this DNA, and they straight-up rocked the Xcel Energy Center to the core on Saturday night.
Openers Surf Curse came out and it didn’t take very long for the energy level to go into the stratosphere. Post-punk surfy jams ruled the set. Frontman Nick Rattigan sat front and center behind a drum kit, and appeared to be having the time of his life. In fact, the whole band seemed to be having the time of their lives. They had played the 7th Street Entry the night before, and Rattigan stated that this was the first time the band played an arena. The set was well received by the packed X, the high energy getting them raved up for the headliners.
The house lights went down and spotlights lit a curtain that obscured the stage. The light illuminated the symbol from the latest release as orchestral music played. The curtain dropped exposing a stage equipped with a drum kit and amps as well as some triangles with the same symbol that was on the curtain. On a riser at the rear of the stage, the four members of Greta Van Fleet stood and acknowledged the excited crowd, all dressed in similar garb, perhaps the uniforms of a peaceful army? And with a large explosion, the band kicked off the night with “The Falling Sky”. The set was heavily loaded with tunes from their latest release Starcatcher, including the opening song. The album really showcases the bands unique sound. Josh Kiszka was in awesome form, his vocal range has only seemed to expand, and he even added a little harmonica to the mix. Brother Jake was smoking on the guitar, and brought the opening solo right out into the audience on one of the ramps that extended into the crowd. Flames shot up behind the band contrasting with the frozen wasteland that was being shown on the video screen. The rocking continued with “The Indigo Streak”, then the band did a couple of tunes not on Starcatcher when they broke out “Lover, Leaver(Taker, Believer) and “Thats All Right”. There was also a tour debut with “When The Curtain Falls”
The band broke the evening out into a couple of different sets. After an initial set of seven tunes and an extended drum solo by Danny Wagner, the only non sibling, the band came out on a smaller stage located in the back of the arena and did an acoustic set. The set started with Josh delivering a heartfelt rendition of “Unchained Melody” But the highlight of the acoustic set was the killer rendition of “Black Smoke Rising” As the band transitioned back to the main stage, Josh’s route took him through the crowd where he distributed flowers to lucky fans. Back on the main stage and fully electrified, the band continued to do cuts off Starcatcher with amazing versions of “Fate Of The Faithful”, “Sacred The Thread’ and “The Archer” After a brief break the band came out for the encore of “Light Of My Love”, another tour debut with “Highway Tune” and ended with the final cut on Starcatcher, “Farewell For Now”.
There was no polarization among the dedicated, generationally mixed fanbase at the X Saturday night. Greta Van Fleet are a charismatic band, know how to kick ass and are cementing their place in the annals of rock.