Greta Van Fleet at the Honda Center in Anaheim, CA

Deafening, blues guitar-based hard rock blows the roof off the Honda Center as Rival Sons and Greta Van Fleet roll into SoCal.

Miss the good ol’ days of classic hard rock? Classic-rock revivalists Rival Sons and Greta Van Fleet, two of the most popular rock bands of the modern era, took the stage to bring  your nostalgia fix. Greta Van Fleet brought their Dreams in Gold Tour to the Honda Center in Anaheim. The show was a sold-out success, with both bands delivering ear-splitting, energetic, and crowd-pleasing performances.

Rival Sons kicked off the show in what was for them for a hometown crowd, with a bang, launching into their song “Do Your Worst” to the delight of the crowd. Lead singer Jay Buchanan’s powerful growling vocals were a highlight of the show. Buchanan was in top form, and his vocals were powerful and soulful, drawing the audience in. Rival Sons’ short 50-minute set consisted of only seven songs and was most conspicuously missing the massive commercial hit, “Pressure and Time.” Despite the time constraints, it did not stop the band from putting on an intense performance. The group played a mix of hard rock, blues, and soul, and their sound was tight and polished highlighting the band’s impressive instrumental chops. Guitarist Scott Holliday, in particular, delivered an impressive performance, squeezing in as many of the sounds, effects, and head-exploding solos he is known for coaxing out of his guitars as possible.

After a brief intermission, Greta Van Fleet took to the stage and they immediately launched into a 2 hour and 45-minute set of their own. Greta Van Fleet is a mix of classic rock and blues, and they have been praised for their ability to revive the classic rock sound of the 1970s. In accordance with the genre (these young men have learned their rock lessons well), Greta Van Fleet’s show is replete with mystic symbols, bare chests, huge pyrotechnics, explosions, and fog thick enough to choke out the first few rows of fans.

These young guys don’t hide so much in dark moody red and blue lights, their youthful egos crave the bright white lights of the stage. Their young fans want to see them in all their youthful exuberance and these guys know how to give them what they want. Singer Josh Kiszka is the band’s frontman, and he has a powerful voice and mannerisms that are reminiscent of rock singers of that classic rock era. Jake Kiszka’s fiery lead guitar was the perfect foil to brother Josh’s frontman antics. The third Kiszka brother, Sam, holds down the bass and keyboards and carries the band through several long jams during their set. Danny Wagner’s thundering drums provide the perfect accompaniment to the anchor of Sam Kiszka’s rock-solid bass playing.

The band opened their set with their tune “Built By Nations.” They finished their set with an unreleased song making its live debut, “Meeting The Master.” They seemed to touch all the bases in between, performing all their hits and mixing new and old together. The band returned for a three-song encore that included a tune often covered by Led Zeppelin in live performances,”That’s All Right” by Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup.      

It is clear that the band’s music had struck a chord with the younger crowd, most of which were not alive when this genre of music was in its heyday and was selling millions of vinyl records and cassette tapes. An era when hard rock bands were selling out areas regularly and dominating ticket sales. Despite their young age, those very young fans were there in full-throated support, carrying signs, buying and wearing the merch, and expressing their enthusiasm, right alongside their parents and grandparents, with the younger fans far outnumbering the older ones. If these bands are receiving this kind of support, it stands to reason this is not so much a nostalgic revival as it is a carrying of the torch passed from fathers and mothers to sons and daughters.   

A few years ago, an aging rock star on the brink of retirement said, “Rock ‘n’ roll is dead.” These two bands would beg to differ and are out on the road spreading the gospel of rock ‘n’ roll to a whole new generation.  

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About George Ortiz 67 Articles
George is Southern California and Big Sky, Montana-based photographer. He grew up in Los Angeles and began shooting professionally in the mid 80s. His words and photos have appeared in local & national publications.