Greta Van Fleet Delivers Fierce Set to Sold-Out Crowd at the Agora

click to enlarge JOHN FADDIS
John Faddis
In the late ‘80s when Guns N Roses toured to promote its debut album, Appetite for Destruction, the band played small clubs and put on shows that displayed such unbridled energy, it was apparent the group would one day become superstars.

Greta Van Fleet, a young band from Frankenmuth, Michigan of all places, performs with that same kind of energy. Last night in front of a sold out crowd at the Agora Theatre, the band delivered a fierce 75-minute set that evoked acts such as GNR.

You can see a slideshow of photos from the concert here.

Prior to the band’s arrival, the stage filled with smoke and dark blue lights that made it all look rather spookily aquatic.

The group came out swinging and indulged in a mid-song jam during “Highway Tune” that found bassist Sam Kiszka and guitarist Jake Kiszka facing off at center stage as they soloed. Wearing a smock/dress that looked like something from Woodstock, singer Josh Kiszka effortlessly screeched and crooned throughout the show. His upper-register vocals bore a striking resemblance to Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant, and he even adopted some of Plant’s mannerisms, holding one hand up evocatively as he wailed away.

At one point, he banged his tambourine so hard that he busted into pieces; he gleefully through the broken bits into the audience.

Jake Kiszka picked up an acoustic guitar for “You’re the One,” a good old-fashioned power ballad/love song that the band quite capably delivered. It was the show’s one tender moment and suggested the group’s capable of playing more than just Led Zeppelin-derived rock tunes. The tenderness didn’t last long, however. Even the band’s cover of the Howlin’ Wolf blues tune, “Evil" possessed a hard rocking, Zeppelin-inspired vibe (appropriate since the Zeppelin guys also loved Howlin’ Wolf).

The two-song encore delivered the knockout punch as the band played the ominous sounding “Black Smoke Rising,” a tune with a terrifically trippy mid-song interlude that verged on prog rock. It turned into a righteous sing-along as did the final number “Safari Song,” a song that with its references to “mama” and “lady” could have been the b-side from a long-lost Zeppelin tune.

Aussie singer/songwriter Kaity Dunstan, who records and tours as CLOVES, opened the show with a 40-minute set of atmospheric tunes that failed to connect with the crowd. She’s got a terrific voice (and one critic even compared her to Adele, which is a stretch), but her passive approach to performing meant that Dunstan, who wore a black halter top and loose-fitting pajama-like bottoms, didn’t bring enough intensity to the stage.