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SHOW REVIEW: Greta Van Fleet Ascend Even Higher In Nashville

Photo by Bethany Hildebrandt

To kick off their world tour just three days after their third LP Starcatcher was released via Lava/Republic, Greta Van Fleet killed a massive show at The Bridgestone Arena in Nashville on July 24, 2023. Playing one of their biggest headlining shows to date (20,000 cap. arena), the band slayed their way through the setlist that featured the classic underrated hit "Anthem" and didn't bat an eye when their biggest hit "Highway Tune" wasn't part of the show.

As thousands of fans gathered outside the arena eager to see their favorite band perform live for the first time in the new era, individuals were dowsed in their favorite GVF-inspired outfits (some even handmade) including Josh Kiszka jumpsuits, Jake Kiszka as Oliver Reed, Daniel Wagner as Chip Bunker and Sam Kiszka as Cal A. Bungah. Other star-gazing outfits included bell bottoms, moon and sun aesthetic clothing, 70s-inspired tops and rhinestoned makeup. Fans handed out and exchanged friendship bracelets and small photos of their members. Fans also handed out rainbow bracelets, rainbow flags and organized fan meetups. The merch setups were included throughout the arena as fans were eager to get their hands on Starcatcher merch for the first time.

As the smaller pit gathered in front of the stage and thousands of fans made their way to their seats, cat walks were to be seen on both sides of the stage, as well as a B stage being included for this tour - opting in for more chances for individuals to have barricade. As friends old and new conversed with each other, the wailing sounds of Silversun Pickups echoed throughout the arena.

Photo by Jesseca Lowe

Between sets and about fifteen minutes prior to Greta Van Fleet taking the stage, the curtain dropped and an "A" to represent Starcatcher was revealed as fans grew excited. Along with the curtain, piratical/Toilken-themed versions of each Starcatcher song blasted over stereos as fans began shrieking in excitement. But when all was said and done, the arena went black and the real anticipation began. Greta Van Fleet (who think they're rockstars or something) took the stage and took it all in as they were about to play their biggest headlining arena show at the time.

As everyone took their place - Sam on bass, Daniel on drums, Jake on guitar and Josh (bedazzled in his white jumpsuit) with the mic, the crowd began losing their minds - some only seeing GVF for the first time ever. The familiar buzzy guitar riff of "The Falling Sky" blared through the arena as smoke filled the air and our souls ascended for the next two hours and ten minutes. Moving into "The Indigo Streak", it was revealed that Sam sang background vocals as Sammy girls screamed in joy. As the fan-favorite "Lover, Leaver (Taker, Believer)" was up next, the crowd proudly screamed the chorus with Josh and anxiously waited Jake's infamous guitar solo. Since gaining confidence from 2022's Dreams In Gold tour and Strange Horizons shows, Jake (now wireless with his Red SG) confidently melted everyone's face during his solo - utilizing both catwalks and center stage.

Josh tip-toed off stage during the extensive performance of "Lover, Leaver" to change jumpsuits and struck the crowd when he returned with a dark blue and white star-covered jumpsuit (similar to one he worn at Strange Horizons LA). The soft acoustics of "Meeting The Master" blasted over the PA as everyone immediately knew which song it was as tears were filled in eyes. By the bridge, fans were throwing their arms up, screaming their favorite lyrics, and even Daniel joined in the fun by harmonizing with Josh over a mic. Traveling into the next track that featured orange stage lights and Sam totally owning the keys on this one, "Heat Above" roared throughout Bridgestone as emotions were healed and the crowd felt united. Leading into Daniel's drum solo, the scene turned all eyes on the thundering drum beats as people started chanting his name. What lasted for nearly ten minutes finally came to an end as Daniel bowed and pointed straight over to the B stage.

On the B stage, the lights presented a soft glow on Josh and Sam as they waited for the other two to make their way and while doing so, the two decided to perform a cover of "Unchained Melody" - romantically echoing throughout the entire arena. When Jake and Daniel finally entered the B stage, the four members assembled for an acoustic performance of "Waited All Your Life." The group then performed a cover of African singer/songwriter OSIBISA's "Woyaya" - featuring Jake and Daniel joining in on vocals. But possibly the most thrilling part of the night was the song they chose to perform next. As soon as the soft acoustic riffs of "Anthem" - the title track of the band's 2018 debut album - began, the vibes became immaculate. A song (at that point) that had only been performed live once before in 2019, that unites us all as a fanbase, was being presented to us before our very eyes. As the crowd of nearly 20,000 united during this special point in the show, tears fled eyes, screams were louder than ever, hands were held and Greta Van Fleet had us right where they wanted us.

As the band soared through the crowd returning to the main stage, "Fate Of The Faithful" was performed next followed by ultimate fan-favorite "Scared The Thread." But it was the psychotropic turn with green lights and tons of smoke to set the mood for "The Archer." In the middle of the infectious performance, the lights turned red and Jake kicked off his extensive guitar solo that included gracing both catwalks, playing near fire and of course, playing behind his head. When the band returned for their encore, Sam played those familiar romantic piano riffs we know all too well - and we were graced with "Light My Love" as an encore song. During the song, lights lit up that spelled out "L-O-V-E", rainbow lights were shown towards the end, and fans in every section of Bridgestone displayed colors over phone flashlights to create a rainbow throughout the arena. The most heartwarming part of the night was when Josh Kiszka looked on both sides of him, throughout the arena and saw all of the different colors lit up. To his surprise, he was floored by The Peaceful Army and our sense to love and accept him and the rest of the band individually for who they are. He shed a few tears and gave an unexpected speech to follow.

"I hope to god as a singer and songwriter that our music is timeless, and that song can only be timeless, and one day it will become irrelevant because the world needs to move forward, it needs to move on. It needs love, we need to love!" - Josh Kiszka

Photo by Bethany Hildebrandt

Greta Van Fleet ended the night of course with the final track and third single from Starcatcher - "Farewell For Now" - that features Jake dueting with Josh and Daniel singing background vocals. As the magical night came to a close, picks and drumsticks were thrown, friends and memories were made, tears were produced. The band left the stage in true GVF style as they waved goodbye to the crowd, commencing the beginning of the Starcatcher World Tour.


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