Review by Camille Germain | Photos by Antone Patterson
Wednesday night started off with a long line stretching down the block of sidewalk in front of the Paramount. For a two-day, sold out run in downtown Seattle, Greta Van Fleet were back and ready to deliver. They brought a wide age range of fans who seemed to be there for many different reasons: fathers reminiscing with their sons, late teen girls with plaid mini skirts and black fishnets ready to rock hard, and older hippies with worn down tie dyed shirts and baseball hats taking in a new sound.
Along for the ride was British duet Ida Mae who were asked by Greta Van Fleet to join them on tour. This couple is wife Stephanie Jean and husband Chris Turpin. In the land of mixed genres they nestle in somewhere around a hard acoustic Americana and the rockier side of blues. The two have very cohesive harmonies that lifted the room into a sweet cradle. The only problem throughout their performance was that Stephanie Jean’s microphone was set too quiet and the majority of her excellent vocals were overshadowed by Chris Turpin’s scratchy belts. Ida Mae is both rough and sweet. A balancing act with steady beats. Now living in Nashville, this duo has officially been signed to Sire Records and are releasing their debut album this spring. Check them out, they do not disappoint!
While waiting for Greta Van Fleet to emerge, the fog on the stage steadily grew until it was almost a complete white out. As the audience started to get restless, the members walked on as faint silhouettes. And in an instant the energy changed. The sea of bodies pushed to the barricades and thrusted their arms into the air. We were ready. With the first song of the night they delivered their hit “Highway Tune” that caused the room to go into a full uproar of head bouncing and quickly swaying bodies.
Greta Van Fleet shows up. They deliver excellent skill and sound. Throughout the night there were only smiles across each member’s face. In the middle of running across the stage, Josh Kiszka had a look of total disbelief and seemed truly mystified that this was happening. It was quite refreshing. These guys love what they are doing and it shows. Seeing them live was an opportunity I am thankful to have had. There is quite a bit of controversy over their sound, but no matter what, they have true talent and passion.
Set up as a backdrop were three large white circles that acted as projector screens with lights leading up to them like a runway. Throughout their performance there was alternating artistic live video of each band member projected onto the white circles. There was no cent spared on the production of this show. Warm, welcoming orange and green lights transitioned to reds, then purples and blues, then back around to more orange that held onto a warm ambience throughout the night. At points the lights would strobe in sync with the bass of their sound, creating a unison of feeling and music.
Toward the end of their set, they performed an exuberant cover of Howlin’ Wolf’s “Evil” which every person in the room went crazy for. It was different than the rest of their songs, but in a good way. This cover illustrated that they are capable of even more than they have shown. They can throw in hints of other styles almost effortlessly. Beyond this cover a main highlight of their show was the instrumental breakdown halfway through that just carried the energy up to such a height that you’d almost forget to breathe.
This was an amazing night full of incredible sound and energy. The only exception was a portion of the audience. The unfortunate side to their music is some of the fans that follow them. The more I saw baseball caps, the more I knew what I was in for. Yes it was an all ages show, which can spiral out of control very quickly, but here it was a lot of rude inconsiderate folks who don’t seem to get out of their basements too often. It took away from the enjoyment of seeing them live, but not enough to say it was not worth going. It goes with the territory I suppose.
I cannot wait to see what these fellas do with their music. Having so many sold out shows in their first national tour is incredible. It’s going to be a fantastic ride watching these guys fine-tune and grow as musicians and as a band. But one thing is for sure, they put on a hella good show.