Following last year’s stellar concert season, Forest Hills Stadium will kick off their 2019 concert series with one of the most buzzed-about new rock bands today, Greta Van Fleet, on Saturday, May 25 at 7 p.m.
Greta Van Fleet is comprised of four young musicians, twin brothers Josh (on vocals) and Jake (on guitar) Kiszka, both 22, 19-year-old brother Sam (on bass/keys), and longtime family friend Danny Wagner, also 19 (on drums).
All are from the tiny Michigan hamlet of Frankenmuth, known for its family-style chicken dinners and the world’s largest Christmas store. The band’s name is taken from one of the close-knit town’s elders.
Greta Van Fleet’s last two years have been a wild ride of sold-out concerts in North American and Europe, glowing press, accolades from a slew of fellow artists, including Elton John, Nikki Sixx and Justin Bieber, and two No. 1 EPs.
The band’s first full-length album, Anthem of the Peaceful Army, debuted in the fall. Its first track, “When the Curtain Falls,” took a mere three weeks to break into the Top 10 at Rock Radio. The song has since accumulated more than 18.5 million streams and four million-plus views on the track’s companion music video.
The genesis of and creativity behind the band’s success has truly been a family affair. “When we were not even born yet, my father played us blues music and R&B, soul music — all the good stuff,” says Sam.
“Our parents had a lot of vinyl laying around,” recalls Josh, “so we grew up listening to that and really liked playing with the vinyl albums — putting them on the turntable and speeding them up and slowing them down. But, yeah, I really liked the blues and the soul and the funk — Wilson Pickett is the big one, and Joe Cocker, those kinds of things.”
The Kiszka kids furthered their music education during winter ski trips to Michigan’s Yankee Springs, where family and friends would gather with instruments. Someone was playing something nearly every minute of the day, and Josh, Jake and Sam soaked it up with relish.
“Every year was better than Christmas,” Josh said. “In the evenings or during the day, there was always music being made there, everybody getting together and experimenting with sounds, having lots of fun, making music.”
It was Jake who turned that inspiration into Greta Van Fleet, drawing the idea from the likes of Cream, the Yardbirds, The Who and other ’60s British Invasion favorites. “We liked to see how the English bands had reinterpreted the blues, and we wanted to interpret it again,” he said.
Jake gradually assembled his brothers into a band. Danny Wagner, a friend of Sam’s since kindergarten, became the last piece of the Greta Van Fleet puzzle, joining a year after the group started, after being a regular at the Kiszka house for jams and rehearsals.
“We all have similar taste in music and that helps a lot,” Wagner notes. “But at the same time we have these little differences in what we like, and when it comes together it produces this sound. It’s got that classic kind of vibe but it has a lot of soul, a lot of energy, and that’s a huge part of it.”
Greta Van Fleet’s shared message with their music is to spread “peace, love and unity,” and their collective goal is to have people walk out of their live shows feeling invigorated, energized and exhilarated, and to take that feeling out into the world.
To buy tickets to the show, go to www.foresthillsstadium.com.