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LIVE REVIEW: Revelry In Gold - Greta Van Fleet In Peoria

The scene began around noon on July 24 at Peoria Civic Center, the day before Greta Van Fleet’s vigorous return on their 2022 Dreams In Gold tour. Originally set to be the first leg of the tour in March, the band started the tour with some close-to-home Michigan shows before guitarist Jake Kiszka was ill and hospitalized for four days. The extremely difficult decision was made by the band that Jake needed time to heal so they had to postpone the leg of the tour. Delightfully excited to be back in the states, having just toured South America, Mexico & Europe, Greta Van Fleet is doing everything they can to make up lost time.

If you’ve been to a GVF show, or even if you haven’t, you’re always in for a treat. It’s an event as some would recall. Even bassist/keyboardist Sam Kiszka agrees with that statement, exclaiming how wonderful it is to revel with people who share a feeling with those around them and the band. “You see people hanging out around the venue, or you see people out on the town. You have all these people meeting, maybe they met on the internet or maybe they met through following Greta Van Fleet around. And the outfits they wear are just outrageous and so tasteful. And they’re some of the loudest crowds we’ve ever seen.” Whether you’re seen in sparkles, dressed in your favorite Josh Kiszka jumpsuit, or sporting moon and sun aesthetic, you’ll see it all at GVF shows.

With the doors opening around 5:45 (fifteen minutes after originally scheduled 5:30 time), fans peacefully walked through the arena with gold wristbands that read “VIP” if you were on the floor as they made their way to the stage. With smoke filling the stage as the lights lit up The Velveteers drumset, I was within the first ten rows on my favorite’s (Sam Kiszka) side, awaiting the magic… But before The Velveteers even went on, I made a difficult decision. Again. This time, I caught myself early and trusted my gut. (You can read about how I moved back further on the floor in my article for BANDED) Waiting three hours in line (which is NOTHING compared to how long people wait) was well worth it even though my view wasn’t as close as I’d hoped for. Still being in the scene was wonderful. I’d realized I’ve never been in a pit/up close at an arena show. I’d never been surrounded by that many people. I’ve always seen GVF in smaller venues. As the house lights shut off and the place went dark, there was much anticipation for The Velveteers. Performing a handful of their hits such as “Motel #27,” “Devil’s Radio” and “Father Of Lies”, the crowd couldn’t have felt more blessed with the scene on stage. The trio carry themselves so well with their undeniably fashionable outfits, blaring instruments and alluring vocals. Amongst one of the most unique bands I’ve ever seen, the trio consists of vocalist/guitarist Demi Demitro, and drummers (yes TWO drummers) Baby Pottersmith and Jonny Fig. As a band that’s been honing their own unique sound since 2014, The Velveteers finally receive the recognition and love they deserve.

The crowd grew as the night went on when Rival Sons struck the stage. Drenched with compelling vocals from lead singer Jay Bucanhan and weeping guitar riffs from founder Scott Holiday, the crowd roared with all the band had to offer. Formed in 2009 in Long Beach as remnants of Holiday’s previous bands, the band is joined by bassist Dave Beste, drummer Mike Miley and touring keyboardist with the longest beard I’ve ever seen in real life, Todd Orgen. Soaring through their setlist of hits such as “Electric Man”, “Face Of Light” and “Shooting Stars”, Rival Sons ended a seven song set with “Nobody Wants To Die”, leaving fans fully geared up for the main act.

The curtain rose as it had every single TBAGG symbol on it. Built By Nations, The Weight Of Dreams, Heat Above, Light My Love, etc. At precisely 8:55 pm, that song started playing. If you’ve seen Greta Van Fleet within the last few months or the last year, you know exactly which song I’m talking about. When “Reasons For Waiting” by Jethro Tull starts playing, you know it’s time. The comfort in the melodies, the realization you’re about to see a band you love so much in person (for the 5th time in my case), the feelings you’re about to experience. When the track ends, the entire arena goes black. Sounds of Josh Kiszka’s voice echoes throughout the building. Familiar strums of “The Weight Of Dreams” are to be heard. Josh gives his speech for all the world to feel at peace with. The fact that I had most of it memorized was emotional for me. When the curtain falls (lol) and the blaring sounds of Jake’s infamous ‘61 Les Paul SG play “Built By Nations”, I ascended out of my body. The floor was heated and the crowd grew closer together to get a glimpse of rock’s modern day kings. As I took a few steps closer than I was, I ended up moving further back after the opening song because I was so short, but I could see them so well. All four men - Jake, Josh, Sam, Danny - all of them that inspire me so much. Feeling comfort as I ended up finding my mom and sister as well. As the band travlled right into their 2017 #1 single “Safari Song”, each member was perfectly in-sync with each other. Safari’s ending is always the best part as it ends with a ten-minute thundering drum solo from Danny Wagner.

"Enjoy all of it always and remember that all you have is special." - Josh Kiszka

When Sammy hopped on the keys in the middle of the set, I knew I would be taken to a higher level. As Josh settled us all in for an evening where we’d apparently be craving champagne and caviar as we always do (even though I’m vegetarian), Sam played those thrilling opening notes to “Heat Above” that would lead us into a sonic perspective of the show. What would happen next would be my favorite and (countless others) part of the night. As Sam serenaded us on his Hammond B3 with chords that sounded like dinner music, he then lead into the most romantic song I’ve ever heard, “Light My Love.” This summer and throughout 2022 in general, the song has embraced me as I face uphill battles and has provided a lot of light for me. Every time I hear it live, I’m graced with its presence as all is right in the world. Towards the end of the song, rainbow lights filled the stage and it looked like heaven.

Leading into the theme of the tour, “The Weight Of Dreams” brought face-melting guitar solos from Jake, powerhouse vocals from Josh and exploding drumbeats from Danny, your soul will be ascending if it wasn’t already. Between the pyro, bright lights and incense, it was as though you were in a perfectly mysterious scene. While GVF never makes crowds wait too long for an encore, when returning to the stage, Sam stood (yes, stood) on his piano bench to gaze into the crowd before him, always in awe. When Sam hopped back on his keys, my mind automatically thought it would be “Age Of Man.” But I was elated to know that I was wrong. When the band began the very first note of “Stardust Chords,” I don’t think I had ever screamed so loud in my life. Possibly my favorite song from The Battle At Garden’s Gate, definitely one of my favorite GVF songs ever. Hearing it live for the first time ever. I grew ecstatic as I screamed every single world.

Always ending things on a positive and joyful note, “My Way, Soon” was the closer and I was torn between feeling sweetly overwhelmed with happiness, but also mournful as I knew the night was ending. I screamed the chorus at the top of my lungs and danced through the last song and I had made it to my fifth ever Greta Van Fleet show, drowning in sweet harmony this band brings me.

"And in the end, we will spend, the weight of dreams in gold." - Josh Kiszka

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