March of the Peaceful Army Tour
From the moment Greta Van Fleet (GVF) took the stage, I was left marveling throughout the entire show how guys so young can have so much talent. I was similarly stumped as to how front man Josh Kiszka can sing like he does for well over 90 minutes. If I tried belting out just one note like he does, I wouldn’t have a voice for a month. And the crazy thing is that Josh didn’t seem to take a breath, stopping only a couple times during the concert to say a few words or take a swig of water. Otherwise, it was rat-a-tat, one after another song.
What was equally mind-blowing to consider was that Jake Kiszka (guitar), Sam Kiszka (bass), and Danny Wagner (drums) also didn’t take much of a breather (if any) and continued to pound out every note seemingly perfectly.
The concert began with “The Cold Wind” and immediately moved right into “Highway Tune,” their debut single that catapulted them to fame. Something I really appreciated was how GVF extended many of their songs to allow for guitar, bass, and drum solos, further showcasing the insane talent all these guys have. Josh may have had the mic, but everyone shared the stage, which was cool to see.
I was expecting mostly younger people at the show, but when you looked around, it was actually predominantly older folks. This speaks to their multi-generational appeal, and it was quite a sight to see 60-year-old to 70-year-old men with long hair rocking out in the aisles just like they probably did back in the ’70s and ’80s. And smoking tons of weed, but that wasn’t surprising.
My only comment on the evening is that I would’ve loved to see some banter between the brothers in between songs; Josh was the only one with a microphone all night. After all, these brothers (Josh and Jake are twins) and their best friend Danny have been touring almost nonstop for over two years now, and that camaraderie would have been fun to see onstage. But I believe this will all get better with time and they will find their stride with each other. Usually bands have years to hone their performances in club shows and smaller venues before being thrust into stadiums and outdoor venues.
Opening for GVF was British musical duo Ida Mae, comprised of husband and wife team Chris Turpin and Stephanie Jean who ironically play deep South, Delta blues. There was nothing visually exciting during their set as they both pretty much stood in one spot the entire time. My ears, however, were taken on a journey. They both have some serious pipes, and it was easy to see why they were asked to open for GVF. The talent in all these young artists is just astounding.
GVF ended the evening with “When the Curtain Falls” and played “Safari Song” as their encore. I know I speak for many of us when I say I wish they would’ve played longer. Even if you’re not a fan of their musical stylings or have never heard of them (but how have you not?), I still highly recommend seeing them live. I’ve used the word insane a lot in this review and I’ll say it again: The talent on that stage was insane. These guys are forces to be reckoned with, and I can’t wait to see what they do next.
For tickets, visit gretavanfleet.com/tour.
Catch them soon though; they’re heading overseas in June but will be back in the states for another cross-country tour in the Fall.
Meet the band
Role: Bass and keys
Sam Kiszka is self-taught, starting when he was 13. His father played bass, so he supplied hands-on tutoring, and Sam spent a lot of time learning from YouTube. His all-time favorite composer is Bach, who he cites for being “an amazing bass player with melodies second to none.” Sam gets bored easily, and when he does, he picks up a new instrument to learn. In addition to bass, he is self-taught on the guitar, drums, mandolin, keyboard, Hammond M103 organ, harmonica, ukulele, and a little saxophone.
Being a singer in a rock ’n’ roll band was the last thing that Josh ever thought he’d be. He studied theater in school and was involved in local community musical theater. He primarily considers himself a writer, someone who loves to tell stories, which answers his being the band’s lyricist. He writes, shoots, and directs videos, and loves editing them as well. He certainly enjoys singing in Greta Van Fleet, but he’s got one foot firmly in the theater.
Now receiving relentless media attention, Jake is constantly asked who his biggest musical influences were and genuinely can’t help but rattle off name after name. He mentions everyone from old blues legends like Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf, to classic icons like Led Zeppelin and Cream, to more modern rockers like Van Halen, the Black Crowes, and Joan Jett. Whether he’s playing his 1961 Gibson Les Paul, Gibson SG Standard, Danelectro, or Gibson J-45 acoustic, he’s quickly proving he can hang with just about anyone.
As a kid, Danny took guitar lessons and also learned to play the piano, mandolin, ukulele, French horn, and trumpet. Drumming didn’t come along until his cousin moved out of town and couldn’t take his drum set, so Danny claimed it. Like Sam and many other self-taught musicians, Danny learned from YouTube, analyzing the chops of his favorite musicians (Buddy Rich and John Bonham were big influences).
Set list from the concert:
- The Cold Wind
- Highway Tune
- Black Smoke Rising
- Edge of Darkness
- Flower Power
- The Music is You
- You’re the One
- Age of Man
- Black Flag Exposition
- Watching Over
- When the Curtain Falls
- Encore: Safari song