“Really hot. Really packed. And really historic.” If this was a contest to describe Greta Van Fleet’s gig at The Viper Room in ten words or less…well, there you have it.
Fortunately, we’ve got a lot more words; around five hundred, to be exact. So let’s get to it.
July 25th, 2017 marked Greta Van Fleet’s Hollywood coming out party. Selling out the venue in less than fifteen minutes, this was meant to be an industry showcase, which meant the guest list was longer than the tickets available to the public. (There was a long line of hopefuls waiting at the door in case there were any no-shows). It also meant that instead of a full set, the band would play just 30 minutes.
The start time was an hour past the advertised time of 9:00 pm, so the four guys hit the stage at precisely at 10:00. By that time the club was a complete sauna, packed so tight that one got to know fellow audience members extremely well.
The given reason for the delay was the old “technical difficulties,” which immediately became apparent during the first song, Black Smoke Rising. It was a great song to open with, as it’s probably the strongest tune off their EP. The crowd obviously felt the same way, as they sang along to the chorus. Unfortunately, the sound mix was horrid. The bass guitar and the kick drum were up so high that both Josh Kiszka’s vocals and his brother Jake’s guitar were overwhelmed for the entire set. In addition, towards the end of the song Jake’s guitar amp cut out, reducing GVF to a bass/drum/vocal three-piece for about five minutes.
The four band members may be young, but they’re already true professionals, as they bravely soldiered on. The brief set list consisted of all four songs on their debut EP, plus two unreleased tunes. What has catapulted GVF to rarefied air for a band so young are both the songs and the musicianship. Black Smoke Rising is not an easy song to sing, but Josh hit all the notes with seeming ease. Jake expanded on the guitar solos on the recorded version of the songs, at one point playing the instrument behind his back. Sure, it’s an old guitar hero trick, but to see a 21-year-old, self-taught musician nail it was inspiring. (In fact, all four band members have never had a music lesson in their life). Josh and Jake’s younger brother Sam and drummer Danny Wagner form the rhythm section, and they’re an equal match to the talents of Josh and Jake.
After the final song of the night, the crowd chanted for an encore, but it was not meant to be. Greta Van Fleet’s mission had been accomplished, and they quietly slipped off the stage behind the closed curtain.
GVF is in the midst of a busy year. They’re doing a headlining club tour of the U.S., playing big summer festivals, and headed to Europe to play in England, France, the Netherlands and Germany. Each day seems to bring an exciting new announcement about the band. If they continue on their stellar trajectory, and years from now Greta Van Fleet is playing big arenas, someday the lucky few at this show can tell their friends, “I was there at the beginning.”
CLICK HERE to view more pics from the show.