Show Review: Greta Van Fleet Prove That They Were Made to Play Red Rocks

Show Review: Greta Van Fleet Prove That They Were Made to Play Red Rocks

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Photos & review: Shannon Shumaker
VIEW THE FULL PHOTO GALLERY HERE.

As a Colorado native, avid concert-goer and photographer, I’ve been to countless shows at the historic Red Rocks Amphitheatre, but it’s safe to say that only a small handful of those performances have really left me feeling blown away or moved by the end of the night. If I’m being perfectly honest, I can only count on one hand the amount of Red Rocks shows that have stood out for me personally over the years. It’s not that the bands that are performing at Red Rocks don’t deserve to play there by any means - it’s more so that I believe I’ve just become desensitized to the “wow” factor of the legendary venue. So when Greta Van Fleet took the stage for their second of two nights in Morrison, Colorado this week, I wouldn’t say that I had low expectations, but I thought I knew what to expect. 

Boy, was I wrong. 

In 2019, it’s rare to find a good old fashioned rock show at Red Rocks Amphitheatre. Sandwiched between two massive EDM shows (REZZ just performed on Sunday, September 22nd and Big Gigantic will be taking over the venue all weekend) Greta Van Fleet’s two performances this week were like a breath of fresh air in an otherwise jam and dance-heavy concert calendar this year. Even the energy of the crowd was a bit different from most Red Rocks shows, with fans’ ages varying from young kids all the way to people who could be old enough to be the band members’ grandparents, and the second that the lights dimmed and the band took the stage, it was apparent that the show was going to be unlike any other at Red Rocks this year. 

I enjoy catching the second night of any band’s two-night stint because it almost always guarantees that they’ll have their performance ironed out and will sound better than ever, and that was definitely the case for Greta Van Fleet. If the band did have any kinks to iron out from their first Red Rocks performance the night before, it didn’t show. They simply came out of the gate strong and didn’t slow down once. And the best part? It didn’t feel staged, rehearsed or choreographed. The band had a production, but it wasn’t anything over the top or distracting from their music. While the four young artists certainly knew how to perform and put on an exciting show (frontman Josh Kiszka has one hell of a commanding stage presence) it wasn’t forced as some of their critics might say. Instead, it felt like a real, raw rock ‘n roll show, and it’s safe to say that that’s exactly why the band drew the diverse crowd that they did. 

Not only did they sound great from the first note of their opening song, “The Cold Wind” to the final note of “Highway Tune,” the band was also captivating to watch. Their setlist wasn’t long by any means - only twelve songs counting their encore - but thankfully, it didn’t feel rushed or cut short. Without much material to pull from, the band made up for the shorter setlist by extending the intros and outros of multiple songs to include guitar and drum solos, and even played a John Denver cover. High points were definitely during the epic “Age Of Man,” the heartfelt “You’re The One” and an extended version of “Lover, Leaver (Taker, Believer),” which the band finally played after fans cheered for an encore for nearly five minutes. 

As I walked back to my car at the end of the night, I was left feeling excited and refreshed. As someone who goes to concerts regularly, it can be easy to feel a little jaded or become desensitized to the magic of live music. Admittedly, I’ve taken having an iconic venue like Red Rocks in my backyard for granted, but Greta Van Fleet left me, and certainly their fans, feeling rejuvenated after these two shows. It might feel early on in their career, and the band has only more growing to do from here, but it’s safe to say that Greta Van Fleet were made to play Red Rocks, and I can’t wait to see them return in the future.

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