Best New Artist Grammy Winners Greta Van Fleet are in good company these days. Coming off some pretty stellar performances lately, including an appearance on Saturday Night Live. However, nothing can possibly compare to playing the iconic Red Rocks Amphitheater to back to back sold out crowds. There’s always been something about this beautiful location. Hiking paradise by day, music mecca by night, this place of legends has drawn crowds and artists for 78 years. This was definitely a bucket list shoot for me.
Greta Van Fleet has quite a few haters, but if you haven’t seen them lately, you need to. In the four short years I have been following them, they’ve done a tremendous amount of growing up. I will tell you even I was surprised and the ability to engage the crowd and their new found commanding stage presence. Musically, the play with a talent that has been well honed over nearly as many years as they have been alive. Guitarist, Jake Kiszka, now only 23, once told me he has been playing since the age of three. This means that his brothers, Josh 23 (his Twin) and Sam 20, have also been practicing just as long. Not to be disregarded in the least, drummer Danny Wagner also only 20, brings a tremendous amount of talent to the the stage as well. His classic rock drum solo brought down the house.
The new costumes and energy only served to add to the talent present on the stage. You can not fault a bad for a lead singer who has a voice reminiscent of a legend. After all, Bruno Mars could certainly be compared to Micheal Jackson. It is what the artist does with it that creates the memorable sound and flavor. Josh brings much to the table in that respect. He has grown tremendously over the last few years and some of the younger faux pas must certainly be forgiven. His vocals were unbelievable, and quite frankly, better than the last few festival performances. The band is certainly more in sync as well. They delivered a super star quality performance. So much so, that many of the second night tickets were purchased by newly acquired fans from the previous night. They are developing a string following.
The fan base is certainly one of their driving forces. I noticed that the age ranges were exceptionally broad. Older people who were certainly drawn to the retro sound made up about 40 percent of the crowd. The rest were new and younger fans who are rediscovering the hippie movement and the classic, low production, high performance sounds. It was also nice to see a performance that didn’t require pyro, large stage effects, or over production for the band to keep the attention of the crowd. They may just break the Best New Artist Grammy Curse for good. They have staying power if they continue to grow with their fans.
One of the greatest aspects of my job is watching a band, who I have photographed for a few years at various festivals, grow into something truly special. this particular evening that was magnified by a bucket list shoot for me. As a left the Red Rocks a little early to catch a red eye flight home to Florida, I walked out to the sound of the crowd singing along as it echoed from the venue across the multi era aged rocks and hoped someone was capturing that moment for the band to savor. This was, by far, one of the best live performances I have seen in quite some time.
Article and Photos By: Belinda Glass Reedy (The Metallicougar)