It was 2020. Our lives were changed forever by the pandemic. In a year where the world shut down and we'd felt we lost hope, there came a spark in October 2020. The most beautiful spark. It was the beginning of an era. An era that would last for two and a half years. An era that would gather thousands and thousands of more people. An era where there were two tours. Countless cities, states, countries, and continents. Seeing so many people. Visiting so many places. Smiles. Laughs. Screams. Cries. Pain. Sorrow. Cancellations. Rescheduled shows. Tears. We felt everything in these last two and half years. This... Is the era of The Battle At Garden's Gate.
The Singles - My Way Soon, Age Of Machine, Heat Above + Broken Bells
Leading up to October 2020's release of "My Way, Soon", Greta Van Fleet were consciously sending out pictures that had parts of letters on the back of them. It was a puzzle. Before the official announcement was made, the Peaceful Army gathered their photos together (virtually) and discovered what the secret message was - MY WAY, SOON 10/09/20. That was the dawn. All of a sudden, we knew everything would be okay. All was well. It was as if the sun had shined for the first time in so long. "My Way, Soon" - with its addicting guitars and spontaneous chorus - became the anthem for the Peaceful Army, especially during the TBAGG era. Everyone suddenly felt motivated, excited and hopeful. "My Way, Soon" was the light we needed in the darkest of times. But the excitement didn't end at the track. What may be even more illuminating was the music video. Currently sitting at more than 5 million views on YouTube, we were presented with a montage of background footage - as told by Greta Van Fleet. The music video provided GVF like we'd never seen them before - being humans. While the video was edited by the band themselves, Matthew Daniel Siskin was the creative director of the music videos for TBAGG and explained how raw everything was. He states that there were no lights, no costumes, and nobody telling them to pose like this, or dance like that. It was just the five of them filming and editing. Vocalist Josh Kiszka states on the track, “It’s a salute to our love of being on the road. It invites people along on the journey and dares them to take their own trip.”
Nearly two months after "My Way, Soon" (single number one) was released, Greta Van Fleet graced us with single number two, "Age Of Machine." What was a polar opposite vibe of their previous single, it speaks of being born into the world "a perfect child". The track explores what happens to humans from the world and society, how it transforms humans into robot-like qualities and how to heal from the world. Bassist Sam Kiszka explains, “There’s this beauty that a child has and every day you grow up if you’re not aware. There’s this raw innocence and pure beauty and you see the world in all these different ways. And you get put into this society and you get kind of molded. Hence the lyrics: “Perfect child, plugged in since the womb”.
In February 2021, the third (and most dated) single was released. In the dark and depressing days of winter, "Heat Above" was a light, and it's the oldest track on TBAGG. As many fans recognized older and bootleg versions of this song, "Heat Above" was consistently performed at GVF shows across Michigan between 2016-2017. The song begins with the beautiful sound of an organ as if you’re heading to church. The drums start off soft and gradually become louder and the four young artists fully come together as they present the main melody of the song. This is the most uplifting song I have heard in a long time, striking with the infectious chorus that sings, “Can you feel my love?” The music video presents a white heaven-like aesthetic and creates the perfect visual for the track. Speaking on the direction for this video, Siskin states, "The moment of inspiration came over the first minute of the song, hearing Sam's intro - the drums and explosive entry. It all felt like white heaven. White chalky smoke. That's what I saw in my brain."
The fourth and final single from TBAGG came March 2021 and led us to battle. Fans were raving over "Broken Bells" as soon as it was released and it was a true power ballad. With soft acoustics and calming vocals, "Broken Bells" provides a few moments to reflect on your own personal journey. It's a reminder that we've been through so much, yet we still have so long to go. And it's all part of the battle (and journey) to the gate. Sam said on the track, "Our intention is to remove the obligation of generational synthetic expectations, break down these walls and not build new ones."
The Battle At Gardens Gate
April 16, 2021 - The day the music revived. My first time ever reaching out and asking for an advanced copy of an album for reviewing purposes... And it worked. The highly-anticipated LP The Battle At Garden's Gate featured four promotional singles and thirteen tracks overall. The album is a transcending journey through battles and life itself. As "Heat Above" is such a sweet invitation, you're then carried into "My Way, Soon". As the tone settles down for "Broken Bells", feelings of defeat and motivation come into play. The vivacious track "Built By Nations" offers heavy riffs and thundering drums. "Age Of Machine" presents itself with emotionally raw verses and alternate universe sounds. "Tears Of Rain" features cries of screeching vocals, beautiful piano sounds, calming acoustics, and a chorus so powerful it'll move you to tears.
One of the more mysterious tracks - "Stardust Chords" - carries the vibe an octave higher with electric organ sounds, enticing guitar riffs and illuminating vocals. The romanticized love song, a phenomenal fan favorite - for friends, lovers, ex-lovers, future lovers - "Light My Love" features alluring piano riffs, glamorized lyrics and represents equality. In the middle of the Dreams In Gold tour in Summer 2022, Greta Van Fleet added rainbow lights towards the end of the show, representing every type of love that exists. With Josh motivating the entire crowd to sway from side to side, we all feel as one when we hear this song. "Caravel" offers melting guitar solos and a lower range for Josh, featuring captivating lyrics - "These are the times you'll remember well."
During "The Barbarians", we're thrown into a synthesizer keyboard in which Sam Kiszka is the master. Within the track, we're nearing gardens gate. Smack dab in the middle of the track, Josh screams "Are we prisoners or renegades?" From there, the track carries you as if you're transcending to a higher level. And that higher level transports you into "Trip The Light Fantastic". During the track that screams psychedelia, it's as if you're walking into a '70s nightclub. Toward the end of the track, it's as if the music soars and transmits you into the next track.
To fans, it was originally known as "Black Flag Exposition" during live shows. If you attended a Greta Van Fleet show during 2018-2019, you most likely heard it. We expected this song to be on The Battle At Garden's Gate - there was no doubt it. They can't fool us. "The Weight Of Dreams" is an eight-minute track (longer when performed live) where guitarist Jake Kiszka serves as a rock n roll sherpa. Mastering guitar solos and creating a parallel universe throughout its entirety, the track is the perfect ending and feels like somewhat closure. When the track finally comes to a close, we're met with a soft, acoustic cliffhanger to let us know although this journey may be over, there's more to the story. It's not over yet...
The Candlelight Sessions
Just a few short weeks after The Battle At Garden's Gate was released, Greta Van Fleet were pumping out live performance videos on YouTube. Shot and directed by well-known industry and GVF photographer Paige Sara, there were three Candlelight Session videos - "Broken Bells", "Tears Of Rain", and "Light My Love." Watch the performances below.
To Strange Horizons
In 2021, Greta Van Fleet performed in four cities - Nashville, Bridgeport, Chicago and Los Angeles. Five shows. Memories that would last a lifetime from the small tour. After the small show run, the band graced us with vinyl from each city - recorded live. Check out our gallery from Strange Horizons Nashville below.
Dreaming In Gold
While Strange Horizons was the warmup tour in 2021, the band would take over the world in 2022 for the Dreams In Gold tour. Kicking off in Kalamazoo, Michigan, the band performed three shows and had to postpone some dates due to Jake being hospitalized. That was only the beginning of unfortunate events for the tour. Although the band was lucky and healthy enough to make it through South America and Europe dates, near the end of 2022, Josh ruptured his eardrum, causing the band to have to postpone more tour dates.
Although Dreams In Gold was never a perfect tour, on March 28, 2023 at Golden 1 Center, the tour is finally coming to an end. This indicates The Battle At Gardens Gate era is ending after two and a half years for Greta Van Fleet and the peaceful army. Although I remember the From The Fires era ending when the Anthem era began, and the Anthem Of The Peaceful Army era ending when we were blessed with "My Way, Soon", there will never be anything quite like TBAGG era. So many friends were made, so many places were visited, so many memories were made, and during these couple of years, we grew so much and loved with all our hearts. So... Where do we go from here?
GRETA VAN FLEET