On April 13, Greta Van Fleet played the Mojave stage at the 2018 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.
The tent was packed with a diverse range of concert goers: some young, some old, but all there to experience the rock. "I've heard about them but I haven't listened to them," a teenage girl said to her friend. "I can't get over how much they sound like Led Zeppelin," an older fan mused.
The set began with "Highway Tune," warming up the crowd for songs of modern nostalgia. The crowd was in high spirits, head-bobbing along with lead singer Josh Kiszka. With some guitar technical difficulties at first, there was no phasing GVF. As the tune wrapped up, Kiszka noted that the crowd was "more electric than the guitar."
As if they were in a trance, the audience was mesmerized by the spell GVF had put on them. Track "Edge of Darkness" got a standing ovation and the song wasn't even over. At this point, lead guitarist Jake Kiszka redeemed himself for the guitar tech problems by giving us some insane shredding, gnarly solos, and a little guitar playing behind the head action.
Crowd pleaser "Flower Power" introduced the Hammond electric organ, as bassist Sam Kiszka took a seat to play for a more vintage sound. Josh Kiszka gave a lot of charisma while singing this one, almost releasing a sense of Led Zeppelin's "Going to California." Kiszka successfully and consistently showed his vocal range, receiving a really great crowd response.
Though an overpowering voice, Kiszka is not overshadowing of the remaining of the band. Each song performed was like a little dialogue amongst each other, except with words was instrumentation. Their jam session vibe during "Lover Leaver Taker Believer" displayed their dynamic skill set, Jake Kiszka bringing in the slide guitar, while Sam Kiszka gave a killer bass-line.
During this in particular, I was able to see that with so much talent, these boys still have so much time to learn and grow as live performers. At times, everyone seemed too stationary and not as comfortable or in unison as I'd liked them to be. Though their instrumentation and musicianship is brilliant, their stage performance could be more loose and comfortable.
It wasn't until "Safari Song" when I saw the members of GVF break out of their shell. Playing cohesively with one another, there was an air of passion for their craft and a sense of how much they love doing what they do. Danny Wagner really sold the performance with the finish of a pretty hefty drum solo that any John Bonham fan would've drooled over. Overall, GVF's first Coachella experience was a major success, their future a fire with "Black Smoke Rising."