Tuesday night, American rock outfit Greta Van Fleet stormed through Vancouver, BC with their ‘Dreams in Gold Tour’ with opening support from New York rockers The Pretty Reckless and the South Carolina-bred über talent Hannah Wicklund in tow.
Hannah Wicklund and her band The Steppin Stones kicked things off with a fiery set, showcasing the intensity of Wicklund’s vocal range and her unmistakable mastery of the guitar. She was charged up and captivated the crowd as they filtered to their seats, beers in-hand. Don’t sleep on Ms. Hannah, she is a rising star and an undeniable talent. (sorry for the lack of photos of Hannah, we missed the cutoff to shoot her set – a million apologies)
The Pretty Reckless held a different space, it was powerful and performative, dark and captivating. Lead singer Taylor Momsen stalked about the stage, dripping in punk attitude as her voice punched through the night air. Ben Phillips on guitar, stood stoically at his post conjuring tonal purity from his instrument. Mark Damon, on bass, and Jamie Perkins, on drums, delivered the backbone to the set; a solid, cohesive unit of rhythm. I have seen this band blossom over the years, they just keep getting better every time.
Greta Van Fleet have evolved quite quickly into an indisputable force of nature.
Just four short years ago, I saw them perform as a mid-tier act at the one-and-done Skookum Festival in Vancouver in 2018. Since then, they have expanded musically to incorporate a broader sound, one that isn’t so Led-Zeppelin adjacent by comparison but that still honors and embodies that seventies sound and the psychedelic counter culture.
Lead singer Josh Kiszka took the stage in a gold velour jumper and matching sheer robe, his brothers Jake and Sam flanking his sides, shirtless with black pants suits, and drummer Danny Wagner at the rear in a shimmery muscle shirt. A cohesive unit of stylistic effort, one well designed and well implemented.
Their set kicked off with “Built by Nations” off their 2021 album The Battle at Garden’s Gate.
Josh’s vocals shook the audience and commanded their attention. Immediate cheering and reciprocal singing erupted from the crowd. His voice is quite unique and watching as he contorts his mouth to form his patented tones is intriguing. He isn’t just belting sound into the mic from his vocal chords, he is controlling the overall resonance with his mouth, like it is a filter of sorts. He has a mastery of it and uses it well.
Jake soon caught my eye. His guitarmanship has really come into its own realm, he is a full fledged lead guitarist these days. Someone that loses themselves into the performance and wills a spiritual experience from his finger tips each night. His solos and rhythms and exploration are
Sam is whimsical and in conjunction with Danny on drums, they are the skeleton of every song and the structural timbre for the set. Their stage presence is less performative but no less entertaining. Watching Sam dance around the stage, or at times take residence behind the piano, is a delight.
Danny fired through a few drum solos, which garnered an electric response from the fans. Watching him behind his kit, he just looked jovial and content. A big smile could be seen between the drum skins throughout the night as his rampant, rhythmic arms smashed around in the air.
Oh, don’t forget about the pyro throughout the show. This band made great use of explosions and flame pots, to add an exclamation mark on their performance.
The benefit of a stylistically aware group is that their stage shows are like stories. Each song has been layered in visual treatments that add depth and theatrical drama to every step. Rolling smoke across the ground at their feet, 20 foot tall flames shooting into the air, smoke pots exploding perfectly timed clouds behind the members, it was all optically stunning.
By the end of the night, I was left enthralled with the show. All three bands were superb and Greta Van Fleet really showed off just how well deserving they are of being in the arena touring circuit.
Regardless of your thoughts on this bands sound, they are the real deal. Get out there and see them on tour, you will not be disappointed.
To each of the bands and their crews, thank you so much for a great night out. Come back real soon!
Greta Van Fleet set list:
Built by Nations Highway Tune Safari Song Drum Solo Black Smoke Rising Heat Above Light My Love Broken Bells Age of Machine The Weight of Dreams
Encore: Age of Man My Way, Soon
Full gallery of photos of Greta Van Fleet and The Pretty Reckless: