Peyton King

Ever heard the phrase, “A new take on an old classic?” Well, Greta Van Fleet is the living incarnation of this saying as a 2021 take on 70s rock. While some are loving the feeling reliving the past with a new-age spin through the rock band, others are calling Greta Van Fleet a sorry attempt to copy the famous 70s British-Rock band Led Zeppelin. 

Due to the pattern of fads appearing, dying and reappearing later in the future, numerous alternative members of Generation Z on Bison Hill are eating up the throwback rock sounds of Greta Van Fleet.  

An American rock band from Frankenmuth, Michigan, Greta Van Fleet was formed in 2012 by Kiszka brothers Josh, Jake, Sam and their childhood friend Daniel “Danny” Wagner.  

With Josh as lead singer, his twin brother Jake as lead guitar, Sam as lead bassist and Danny on the drum kit, Greta Van Fleet was signed to Republic Records in March of 2017.  

In April of the same year, they released their debut studio EP, Black Smoke Rising April 21 of 2017 – the very EP that put them on the radar of many heavy blues-rock lovers across North America and Europe. 

Since then, Greta Van Fleet has released their double EP, From the Fires November 10 of 2017, the single, “When The Curtain Falls,” August 15 of 2018, their debut album, Anthem of the Peaceful Army, October 19 of 2018 and most recently Battle at Garden’s Gate on April 16 of 2021. 

Though they had numerous successes and recognition from celebrities like Elton John and Nikki Sixx prior to the release of Battle at Garden’s Gate, some could say that this album is what officially put them in the limelight. Specifically, their performance of the No.1 song on Battle at Garden’s Gate, “Heat Above,” on Jimmy Kimmel live brought them to the attention of the young, alternative, general public, including those at Oklahoma Baptist University.  

One of such members of this subgroup of OBU is senior global marketplace engagement and early childhood education major Kaylie Barnard.  

Barnard shared how she came to encounter Greta Van Fleet.  

“Unfortunately, I was one of the many who were introduced to Greta Van Fleet through TikTok,” Barnard said. “A clip of them performing trended, and then for an entire week my entire ‘For You Page’ was only GVF content. I thought they were funny so I decided to listen to their music.” 

When first listening to the band, Barnard wasn’t an immediate fan.  

“To be completely honest, it was not my favorite right off the bat,” Barnard said. “I’d only listened to rock music with my parents growing up and had never gotten into myself, but after listening through their albums I loved it.” 

Since then, Barnard has remained a fan of the Michigan-based group. 

“I love them and have listened to them on a daily basis the past month,” Barnard said. “What I love most is Josh’s vocals, he’s super dynamic and powerful. They also do a good job at writing songs that don’t all sound the exact same. They have a good range of loud and fast and also some that are slower ballads.”  

Not all who’ve listened to Greta Van Fleet become fans, though.  

Junior philosophy major Ellie Huff is someone who, upon listening to the band, decided they aren’t up her alley.  

Like Barnard, Huff was introduced to Greta Van Fleet through TikTok.  

There are a couple things that Huff said she appreciated about the band. Specifically, she said she appreciated the “good vocals” and that “they have a cool rock influence. The band has a super cool aesthetic so definitely watch their videos.” 

Despite these appreciations, Huff found that Greta Van Fleet was “too mainstream” for her liking. 

On top of some finding Greta Van Fleet to be too popular, others dislike the band for its unoriginality. A scorching review by Pitchfork Magazine made it quite clear that Greta Van Fleet is a cause for controversy amongst rock fans, especially in the eyes of Led Zeppelin fans.  

Writer Jeremy D. Larson of Pitchfork magazine set the precedent of the company’s distaste for Greta Van Fleet by heading his review of Anthem of the Peaceful Army with the statement, “The debut from the young Michigan rock band is stiff, hackneyed, overly precious retro-fetishism.” 
In the article, Larson went on to write that the band is, “more of an algorithmic fever dream than an actual rock band,” and before calling out the costume-esque dress of the band and finally stating that they, “make music that sounds exactly like Led Zeppelin and demand very little other than forgetting how good Led Zeppelin often were.” 

According to Republicrecords.com, “All [the band members] were raised on their parents’ vinyl collections which helped give birth to the music they make today: a high-energy hybrid of rock’n’roll, blues and soul.” 

So, whether the band is paying heavy homage to the bands they grew up listening to or profiting on replicating the sound of their already successful predecessors is up to the listener. On Bison Hill, the listeners are still divided.  

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