“Have you Ever Heard of that Place?”: A Review of ‘Phonic Seattle’

When searching for films about the Seattle music and arts scene, you’ll be hard pressed to find any.  On one hand, Seattle is a footnote in many bands’ histories.  Documentaries about Pearl Jam, Foo Fighters, Ray Charles, and a number of other performers usually have a feature about Seattle.  You might also find 30 to 45 minute specials which provide short profiles of the Seattle music scene.  However, when it comes to full length documentaries solely about Seattle music culture only two major ones come to mind, the grunge focused “Hype”, and the jazz focused “Wheedle’s Groove”.  Both documentaries feature a snapshot of Seattle music culture and have been released nationwide to a mostly positive critical response.  Last Friday I was fortunate enough to attend the premiere of a new documentary about the Seattle music scene, “Phonic Seattle”.

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Art by Izzi Vasquez on display during the premiere

The film’s director Alaia D’Alessandro looks to introduce musical spaces and performers you never knew of, by following three local musicians, Carlarans, Julie-C, and Reese Tanimura, to their favorite underground music spots and events around Seattle.  The film’s decision to follow three musicians representing different backgrounds is brilliant as the documentary spotlights a diverse range of venues and events around the city.  The documentary’s approach to introducing this premise is unique in that it hits the ground running.  The documentary lays out the premise almost immediately and goes right into the first of the three musicians.  This quick paced approach of interview, segment about the venue, coupled with clips of a live performance carries through the entire documentary, and creates a feeling kind of like a DJ mixing at a night club.  It’s an ebb and flow approach where the music being mixed, are the video segments and the great camera angles.  At first it feels a little manic, but the more you watch it, the more it doesn’t feel like a simple compilation of interviews.  Rather it feels more like a visual mixtape of our community.

The documentary aimed to introduce new venues and performers, but I believe the real takeaway is how so many diverse music experiences exist almost independently from one another within the same city space.  It’s incredible to think you could experience nearly every musical genre on any given night in the city.  The documentary demonstrates Seattle isn’t solely a grunge city or a jazz town anymore.  This documentary shows how the changes in our communities and the economic flow are helping dictate the direction of the music and arts scene, and in some cases causing others to be more steadfast in their response to that change.  It felt like the response to the changes was just more creativity.  Creativity in what a space can offer.  Creativity in what defines the audience.  Creativity in marketing campaigns.  It seems like for the community to survive the influx, the performers and the spaces adapted their definition of self to the influx, and this feeling of adaptation is on display in the documentary.

As a person who was born and raised in Seattle, I felt like this was a great representation of our city and definitely fulfills on it’s tagline of “introducing musical space and performance you never knew of”.  I attended the screening with my cousins and on more than one occasion we found ourselves leaning in and asking one another, “Have you ever heard of that place?” or “What was the name of that artist?”.  If you have people who are engaged in the local arts and music community, who grew up in the city, asking one another if they recognized something, then you really have accomplished your tagline.  When it comes to the question of welcoming “outsiders” into the music community, I felt like the best response to this question came from both Carlarans (who hosts “The Beat”) and also the owner of Clock-Out Lounge.  Carlarans explained that it’s okay for “outsiders” to come into these new experiences as long as they do so under the understanding that they’re guests.  The owner of Clock-Out Lounge, reiterated the same message and added “Also, just don’t be an a**hole.”  I feel like this is the perfect reflection of Seattle and for me the biggest takeaway from the documentary.  Everyone is welcome, be cognizant of the people who established the longstanding community structures, and above all else, just don’t be an a**hole. (haha)

From a born and raised Seattle person, I recommend checking out Phonic Seattle.

Capitol Hill Block Party 2019 was a week ago, here’s my highlights.

If I’m honest, I wasn’t expecting Capitol Hill Block Party to be as awesome as it was this year.  When I think about my approach to Block Party, I picture how most professionals would approach an industry trade show.  Like an industry trade show every company invited is given the opportunity to present a sample of their offerings, some companies are given bigger booths than others, you see some industry regulars, and you make friends/network with people who seem to gravitate to the same booths you do.  The key differences being the “companies” are bands, the “booths” are stages, and the “offerings” are performances from these bands.  What you’re seeing on stage is that band’s best sample of their show, because they want you to follow their product. They want you to be a fan of their work.

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Otter Pop (left), Marshall of Marshall Law Band (right)

This year’s lineup didn’t initially “wow” me but I was more than happy to attend for three days and give each artist I saw as much attention as if I had come to Block Party to see them perform specifically.  Of the 27 performances I saw, here are my top 3 acts from each day:

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JPEGMAFIA

Friday
JPEGMAFIA
– JPEGMAFIA came highly recommended by some of my younger friends. This was my first time seeing/hearing him perform. I had no idea what to expect. Having forgotten his laptop, JPEGMAFIA plugged in his phone, and proceeded to have one of the most high energy sets of the weekend.  His performance was for sure “hip hop”, but this really felt like a manic “hardcore”/”punk” show.  There were mosh pits, stage dives, and moments where JPEG just yelled into the mic.  I decided to get in the mosh pit.  With a big smile, I proceeded to slam dance with people a little over half my age.  After a few kids asked how old I was and I told them I was 30, more than a few lit up and asked if they could square up with me for the next few songs. I happily obliged them, of course. I asked one kid, what does age have to do with this, and he explained, they were just impressed that someone my age was so down to get down to JPEGMAFIA. (haha)

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Mitski

Mitski –Mitski was the performer I was most excited to see at this year’s Capitol Hill Block Party.  I enjoyed her 2018 album “Be the Cowboy” and had posted up at the front against the barrrier to see her perform live.  Once I saw her with a tape measure before her set putting down tape markers I knew we were in for something special.  Her performance was creative, the choreography was compelling, and her voice really drew you into the feelings she was trying to evoke.  More than a few people near the front were tearing up.

Bear Axe – After Mitski, I made my way to the Neumos stage to catch Bear Axe.  I’ve seen Bear Axe on lineups around Seattle but I had never seen them perform.  Bear Axe put on a mind blowing performance.  I would describe their sound as a mix of funk and punk. Shaina Shepherd’s soulful vocals really stood out especially in their cover of “Where did you sleep last night?”. I definitely want to see Bear Axe perform again.

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Tres Leches (Upper Left), Episcool (Upper Right), Perry Porter (Bottom)

Saturday
Perry Porter – If there was any performer that engaged the audience in a memorable way, I would have to give it to local hip hop artist Perry Porter. Perry was one of the early acts of the day.  The stage set up were canvases with his paintings on display, a tarp and several plates with paint and brushes.  Upon taking the stage, he told everyone at random points throughout the show he would invite folks up to paint his all white outfit.  Folks drew in closer just to see his outfit evolve throughout the set, however when he jumped off stage still covered in wet paint and tried to get folks to mosh with him, that’s the only time members of the audience backed away. The performance was one of the more memorable of the weekend for the creative audience engagement Perry had provided.

Tres Leches – I read a Seattle Times article put out a little after Capitol Hill Block Party that described a moment during Tres Leches’ set where they performed a protest song addressing how Block Party had compensated local bands.  If I’m honest, I don’t remember hearing this moment.  Not saying that it didn’t occur, I didn’t hear it because I had initiated a decent sized mosh pit at the end of their set.  This couple had pushed to the front during the last 2 songs of their show.  The male in the couple shoved his girlfriend into me and immediately they began apologized.  I smiled and said, “No need to apologize, I’m down if you’re down.”  The guy smiled, and I shoved him hard into the crowd behind him.  Next thing you know we were slam dancing to close out the Tres Leches set.  I’ve been to around 10 Tres Leches shows and this is the first time I’ve been part of a crowd who wanted to mosh during their set.  This is probably why I missed their protest moment.  The fact I was in attendance for their protest song was pretty ironic.  I had attended their set because a main stage performer, Saba, had effectively squandered half his set.  Saba was scheduled to have an hour slot at the main stage.  I remember when Rolling Stone magazine named Saba one of their artists to watch, so I was excited to see him.  He began his set 15 minutes late, and once his set started the first 15 minutes was his DJ hyping up the audience.  That would mean an hour long set was effectively cut in half.  I bailed after Saba performed 2 songs for the Tres Leches set.  At the time, I thought cutting your set in half felt disrespectful which is why I left, but after reading Tres Leches’ comments in Seattle Times concerning compensation, I feel great about my choice not indulge in his performance.

A Tribe Called Red – This will probably go down as the year of Lizzo.  Lizzo was the reason a ton of my friends had attended Block Party.  That was by far one of the most densely packed, long stretching crowds I’ve ever seen for a headliner.  I made it as far as the Sushi restaurant. After about fifteen minutes of being pushed and being packed against other people, I decided to bail and go watch A Tribe Called Red.  The crowd didn’t thin out until “Out of the Closet”  Thrift Shop.  That was one of the best decisions I made all weekend.  A Tribe Called Red put on one of my favorite sets all weekend.  The crowd was happy and dancing.  The imagery they used during their set was powerful.  It was native imagery.  Not just native Americans, but native peoples from around the world.  A friend pointed out to me, the images were not about glorifying the stereotype in the images but instead reclaiming it.  Taking the image back, and using it as a way to teach and grow.  To me, that was impressive.  We can all dance, have fun, and hopefully learn, and that’s what A Tribe Called Red presented to the crowd.

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A Tribe Called Red

Sunday
Actors – What’s Capitol Hill Block Party without taking in a good “goth band”?  From the first song, I knew I was going to enjoy this group.  I loved it when the lead singer said after asking the crowd if anyone knew who they were and they were answered with a one person cheer, “Just wondered cause there’s an absence of black t-shirts in the audience.  We’re just a buncha goths out in the Summer.”  Dude.  The fact the group was wearing all black in direct sunlight in upper 80 degree weather was impressive (haha). I would describe their sound as danceable goth music.  It felt like late 80’s New Wave with an edge.  I’m sure I wasn’t the only one loving what I was seeing on stage.  After Block Party I bought their album “It Will Come to You” and their EP “Reanimated”.  I recommend checking these folks out.

Episcool – When I was deciding who to write about,  I really wanted to keep my list to three acts per day.  Deciding who I wanted to feature between Episcool and Nick Weaver was a pretty big decision for me.  Nick Weaver is one of Seattle’s best currently active hip hop artists.  I could have easily wrote about his performance, but instead I decided to focus on a performer I’ve never seen until I saw her performance at Block Party.  Episcool came totally out of left field for me.  She performed probably one of the most crowd energizing sets I saw that weekend.  I just happened to be wandering into Barboza, noticed the room was packed, everyone was dancing hard, and there were no camera people covering the action.  I feel like this set flew totally under the radar from the press covering the event. I made my way to the front, snagged some photos and videos, but the drops were just infectious.  I found myself dancing alongside the rest of the crowd to this mix of dubstep and a kind of trance electronic beat.  It was great and it truly felt like the energy of the crowd was fueling the set, despite Episcool being so focused on her craft.

20190724_121914(Upper left) Nick Weaver, (Upper right) Bear Axe, (Bottom) Actors

Razor Clam – The 9:00 to 10:00pm slot on Sunday was one of the tougher choices of the weekend.  Within the same time slot you had Razor Clam, Cuco, Kung Foo Grip, and Marshall Law Band.  With his awesome hairstyle, I figured Marshall Law Band would have drawn a large crowd to the Barboza basement.  Cuco in particular was a performer some of the younger crowd had bought tickets to see.  It came down to Kung Foo Grip and Razor Clam.  I had seen both bands perform one other time before and even if Kung Foo Grip had a memorable show (I saw them perform at Bumbershoot in the KEXP open space), I hadn’t seen a performance at the Cha Cha stage during this Block Party, so I decided to see Razor Clam.  I posted up next to one of the speakers and even if it was hot in that basement, once I saw lead singer Aya being carried to the front (which I think was improvised) I knew I made the right choice.  There performance was a mix of femme glam rock and soft goth sentiments.  I was dancing and just admiring the amount of confidence on display in their set.  I do have to apologize to the lead singer.  At one point, she asked the audience if she could get a sip of anyone’s drink. I let her have some of mine, but honestly I was hesitant to give her some as it was a cheap beer that had basically gotten warm in that hot basement, and probably did not taste great (haha).  Otherwise, Razor Clam put on a fun memorable set, that I would recommend others check out live.  Also, check out their EP.  I’ve seen them twice and loved their song “ITB”.  It wasn’t until I heard their EP, that I realized what that song is about (haha).

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Razor Clam

This year’s Capitol Hill Block Party will go down for most as the year of Lizzo, but for me, I got to see a lot of performers who I would love to see perform again.  I bought a lot of albums based on the performances I saw, and will keep an eye out for future line ups featuring those acts.  Some performers did let me down, but the ones who shined, really shined.  In a lot of cases, folks really exceeded expectations.  With what was on display, I would be surprised if the stock of these performers didn’t go up after their sets at this year’s Capitol Hill Block Party.

For more videos and pictures from Capitol Hill Block Party weekend including moments I described here, check out my Instagram: Cakeintherain206

The Ocean Blue bridge generations at The Crocodile

If I were to describe the music of The Ocean Blue, I would say their sound is timeless.  Albums that came out when the band gained acclaim in the early 90s, still sound as fun, light, and relatable today.  Even their most recent albums, sound distinctly Ocean Blue but fresh.  As if to say we’re still the band you fell in love with but we have songs for the another generation of fans to enjoy.  It’s this appeal that really defined the audience who attended the show at the Crocodile that night.

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The National Honor Society
The first band of the night was The National Honor Society (above).  This was great light hearted rock to open the show.  The music felt like pop rock but with a little more of an edge during a handful of songs.  After the show I mentioned to my younger cousin that I had seen this band perform live and her reaction was, “I saw them a few years ago when they opened for the Jonas Brothers.”  I enjoyed their set and the lead singer mentioned the release of a new EP which I might check out.

The Dirty Sidewalks
The second opener was The Dirty Sidewalks.  If the first band was light hearted rock, The Dirty Sidewalks were rock.  I never thought I would have the urge to mosh at an Ocean Blue concert, but this band almost had me looking for a pit.  I was close enough to the stage, that I could barely hear the vocals but if there was anything I would point to as something that stood out to me, the lead guitarist was fabulous.  I felt all four members sounded great, but the lead guitarist was what drew my attention.  In all, the Dirty Sidewalks provided a variation in musical style for this show.

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The Ocean Blue
Having never seen The Ocean Blue (above) perform live but being a fan of their music, watching them perform live you realize very quickly, they sound as great as they do on their albums.  Most impressive was the ease lead vocalist David Schelzel sang each song.  His voice was as soothing as it sounded in their recordings.  The set list included many fan favorites like “Between Something and Nothing” and “Ballerina Out of Control”, alongside songs which showcased their talent like “Sad Night, Where is the Morning?”, “Cerulean”, and “Mercury”, and new favorites like “Kings and Queens” from their latest album.  The performance enthralled the crowd, singing and dancing along with the band.  The visuals added another element to the show.  Displaying behind the band were art pieces, slowed down visuals of clouds, chemicals and other vistas, and also clips of some of their music videos.  I loved the homage to Seventh Seal.  I really was impressed by the performance and would definitely see them again.  I have to give them extra props for the cover of Joy Division’s “Love will Tear Us Apart”.

The Ocean Blue is one of those bands who’s sound I believe could fit in today’s modern dream pop pantheon.  Their body of work and the performance I saw, shows a veteran band that sounds like they could hang with modern dream pop acts like Alvvays or even Beach House.  What I loved about being in the crowd at that show, although it did skew older, there were still a number of younger fans mixed in.  The Ocean Blue feels like a band that has an appreciation for and draws inspiration from art, and they create music that carries those sentiments.  That’s the kind of music I would like to see passed on for other generations to enjoy.  Music that spreads those feelings of inspiration, and that’s what The Ocean Blue accomplishes.

 

“The Comet is Coming”: I think this is Jazz?

One of my favorite shows I attended last week was “The Comet is Coming” live at Barboza.  I had originally bought tickets for this show because I had seen a poster for the event and thought it looked cool.  I went in with no real expectation of what I was about to see.  The only other research I had done prior to this show was I saw a post about how they had played a Boiler Room show in London, and watched maybe a minute or two of it.  I wanted to be surprised when I attended the event.

When I arrived at Barboza, J Justice had already begun his set.  J Justice did great as an opener.  His DJ set involved both vinyl and digital elements, intertwining both jazz and dance records.  When he wrapped I walked up and complimented his set, and he told us that he was a night DJ at 91.3 (radio station – KBCS).  Then it was time for “The Comet is Coming”.

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“The Comet is Coming” blew my mind.  Knowing they had played a Boiler Room show, I knew there would be opportunities to dance.  What I didn’t expect was what sounded like a mix of Jazz, Electronic Dance Music, and Prog Rock.  Really I would liken the experience to seeing a group playing the score to a great sci fi adventure, but also seeing how the crowd was reacting and playing off the mood in the audience.  The almost stutter style saxophone playing of Shabaka Hutchings was amazing live and it played well off of Dan Leavers (keyboardist) and Maxwell Hallett (drummer).  Leavers use of keyboards were what I would describe as a mix of EDM but with moments of slow levity, while Hallett on the other hand played very jazz style drums in that he read where each musician was going and played along that flow.

Overall it was a great experience and I highly recommend checking this band out live.  If Jazz in it’s early heyday were musicians from different genres kind of playing and working off one another, eventually blending into a new genre, this felt like a next step in that evolution.  The music being performed by “The Comet is Coming” deserves some sort of rock opera style music video, or even a great treatment in a laser light show style platform.

2 Coffee Show Review: Scarlet Parke (album release), Little Wins, and Jake Crocker (6/14/19)

This past weekend I had the opportunity to attend the album release show for Scarlet Parke.  Her new album “Flight Risk” was released the same day as the event and the eight song album was receiving positive reviews going into the show.  Scarlet is a regular fixture in the Seattle music scene.  If she isn’t performing, you’ll normally run into her at popular venues and shows in the area.  Her approachable, warm personality translates to her show and was really evident in the crowd that came to support her that evening.

The show opened with DJ producer Jake Crocker.  Jake collaborated with Scarlet on this recent album and would back Scarlet later in the night.  Jake’s DJ set was what I would describe as fun.  There wasn’t too much of a crowd early into the show, and the crowd that did populate the dance floor were mostly Jake’s close friends. At several points Jake invited his friends on stage to either give an impromptu DJ lesson or just to dance.  It wasn’t a great set, but wasn’t a bad set.  Really, it looked like Jake was having fun and his friends were having fun.  If an artist is having fun, then it translates in the show, which is why I would describe this set as “fun”.

The next set was local performer Andrew Vait’s solo act, Little Wins.  Many folks will probably recognize Andrew as a co contributor to the local band, Sisters.  I’ve always enjoyed Andrew.  He’s a solid performer and he knows how to weave through a song.  At first the crowd which had now begun to fill the room were talkative during his set, but mid way he performed a cover of the Cranberries song “Linger” and the room was mesmerized. From that point on, the crowd was respectful of his talent and you could tell, really enjoyed his set.

Finally, Scarlet Parke closed out the night.  I’ve seen Scarlet perform before.  Myself and several others in the audience would describe her performance as having an Amy Winehouse vibe but with a more Latin almost crooner kind of feel to it.  In this set, she performed the full album and also debuted a new song she created in collaboration with Little Wins.  Having never heard the album until this performance, I enjoyed it.  The songs felt like they had a different pop/r&b vibe to them.  Some songs that stood out to me were Moonlight, Distractions, Man Like You, and Never Going Home.  Overall, I enjoyed this performance. Prior Scarlet Parke shows I’ve attended felt more like a jazz r&b show with a multi instrument live band, this felt almost opposite of that.  Her backing accompaniment was minimal (I think it was just Jake Crocker) and the songs were tailored to folks looking to dance.  If you’re looking for an opportunity to dance to some great pop r&b songs with a Latin vibe, definitely check out Scarlet Parke, and pick up her latest album “Flight Risk”.

2 Coffee Show Review: Richie Dagger’s Crime, Eastern Souvenirs, and Katie Kuffel at Barboza (1/17/19)

A new feature for this blog will be what I call a “2 Coffee Show Review”.  A “2 Coffee Show” is a show whose ticket costs as much as the cost of two coffees or specialty drinks at Starbucks.  Usually this means the price of a single ticket cost me less than $10.  This is no way is an indicator of the quality of the show.  I’ve been to a lot of incredible “2 Coffee Shows”.  It usually means the bands are young or still trying to gain a foothold in the local market.  Characteristically the crowds are normally small and it’s a great opportunity to meet and hang out with the talents before or after their sets.  For these reviews, I’ll provide an introduction, at least a paragraph on each performer, and a conclusion about whether or not the show was worth more than the two coffees I gave up by going to the show.

Last week I attended a show at Barboza which featured Katie Kuffel, Eastern Souvenirs, and Richie Dagger’s Crime.  I decided to attend this show kind of spur of the moment.  I was looking for a show in the area that was reasonably priced but featured acts that I knew would deliver, and then I saw the lineup for this show and was a little taken aback that these performers were all on the same $8 lineup.  I happily paid my fee and made my way to Barboza.  In terms of crowd size, I would say it never got past 20 people at one time.  Still I was excited for what I was going to see. (Photos and videos below)

Katie Kuffel
I’ve seen Katie Kuffel perform a number of times.  She has one of the most unique powerful voices in the current Seattle music scene, and when you see her perform, she seems very nonchalant, like what she’s doing just comes naturally.  Having recently released an album, I was excited to see her perform some of these songs live.  There wasn’t much of an audience when she began, but by the end, everyone in the room was standing in attention.  She tried out a new song at the end of her set, that if I’m honest needs more ironing out (all I remember was she said the word “swallow” a lot in the early portion of the song).  Otherwise, a fantastic opener, and I’ll personally never get tired of hearing the song “Fault Lines” performed live.

Eastern Souvenirs
I’ve never seen Eastern Souvenirs perform live but in research for this show I found out they were set to headline a show the following week at Chop Suey.  This felt like a warm up for that set.  I found the trio entertaining.  The vocals performed over synths and fast paced drums motivated the audience that was present to dance.  In a room of less than 20 people, if you could get folks to dance and move without embarrassment, that’s a great sign of talent, or at least good songs.  From what I saw, I wouldn’t mind seeing Eastern Souvenirs perform again.

Richie Dagger’s Crime
This was my first time seeing Richie Dagger’s Crime perform.  I had heard the album “Sea of Dysfunction” and was curious how these songs would be performed, because it featured multiple layered instrumentation and when I was there, the band consisted of just three people.  It was either the set was quick paced or it felt short, but he did perform the songs I was hoping to hear,” Absence” (Part 1 and 2) and “I Bleed the Future Seeds”.  Other than the feeling that the set was short, I thought it was a good show.  I thought the band were fun performers, and it was interesting seeing those songs performed live.

Overall for a 2 Coffee show I felt the price was justified, if not undervalued.  None of the performers were bad, two of the performers put out albums recently that drew positive reception, and one of the performers are set to headline a show in the upcoming week.  For $8, this was a great show.

Greta Van Fleet rock the Paramount (1/10/19)

Thursday night. 6:30pm. The entrance to the Paramount. Greta Van Fleet is set to perform Night 2 of a 2 night sold out engagement at the Paramount. Doors for the show don’t open until 7:00pm, and yet the line was still longer than I’ve seen for any other show I’ve attended at the Paramount. The line stretched from the entrance of the Paramount all the way to “Four Columns” park (roughly three to four blocks). Folks in the line came from Canada, Portland, New Mexico, among other places, and ranged in age from grade schoolers to “experienced” rockers. Walking up and down the line, scalpers and people selling bootleg merch were in full force.

I’ve been to a few concerts, but the atmosphere around this show was different. With good reason. In 2018, I feel like no other hard rock band has been as polarizing as Greta Van Fleet. From selling out multiple venues across the United States to the scathing review for their debut album, “Anthem of the Peaceful Army” in Pitchfork, the young band has been at the forefront of both a love/hate debate about their relevance in the current music landscape. Personally, for artists their age to accomplish what they have is impressive, and you can’t discount their proficiency at the craft. The kids are talented and deserve kudos for that aspect. With that, I was still curious how they would perform live, which brought me to the Paramount on Thursday.

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Ida Mae
The night opened with husband and wife duo, Ida Mae. The band was largely unknown to most of the folks in the crowd, but were quickly captivated by the British couple’s heavily blues inspired sounds. Maybe it was the songs chosen or the sound set up, but it felt like the husband of the group was featured more heavily in the performance. He was playing guitar, providing a beat on a foot pedal on a drum, and also providing a very distinct vocal, while his wife provided back up vocals and support on smaller hand held instruments such as shakers. One person in the crowd even remarked that the husband in the group could even be featured as a solo act. Nonetheless, they drew a very positive response from the audience using old school country licks, and (of course) a “Woody Guthrie” cover.

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Greta Van Fleet
Being able to see Greta Van Fleet perform live is something special. You’re seeing a set of young talents who are great in their roles, and have legions of fans of all age groups who know the lyrics and can sing along to their songs, but also as you see them perform, you have a feeling like they have yet to peak. The set list was a mix of songs that drew heavily from both “From the Fires” and “Anthem of the Peaceful Army”, equally. Being in that crowd singing a long to “You’re the One”, seeing the younger audience members light up when they began performing “Flower Power”, or everyone get on their feet for “Safari Song”, was nothing short of astounding. These are fans from several generations uniting with a love for these songs.

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It’s funny. The easy comparison for this group is Led Zeppelin, but seeing them live I was getting more of a Rush or even Aerosmith vibe. At times, sure the Led Zeppelin vibe was there, but really a lot of the songs had more of a Rush vibe to them in terms of lyricism and musical arrangement, while the performance felt more like Aerosmith. The way Josh Kiszka commanded the mic, felt more like some of the mid to later year work of Aerosmith leader Steven Tyler. His on stage look even was more akin to Steven Tyler’s. I felt like even the way Jake Kiszka performed was more Joe Perry than it was Jimmy Page. Overall, I enjoyed seeing Greta Van Fleet perform live. If there was any knock against their set, I would say the members could do more to command that stage. They were really just moving back and forth, and it felt like they were concentrating, but with good reason as their songs are complex.

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I always loved the reviews that dismiss this band as purely a “Led Zeppelin rip off”. I feel like anytime a band can demonstrate proficiency while also drawing these comparisons, the reviewer comes to the defense of the legendary band as if the younger band were coming for the crown. Really, I think these guys are just having fun, while also paying homage to their heroes. I saw elements of Led Zeppelin, but I also saw elements of Aerosmith, Rush, and a number of other 70’s/80’s rock bands. At some point the comparisons have to end. If a band is creating new music and sounds like an amalgamation of seven or so different bands, then the logical conclusion is they must be unique, and really there aren’t many bands in the current music scene on the same level that are as unique as Greta Van Fleet.