REVIEW BY DAVID TAYLOR AND PHOTOS BY DEAN BIRKHEIMER | Go Venue Magazine
In December 2017, I was given the opportunity to cover Greta Van Fleet’s sold-out Omaha debut at Sokol Auditorium (now called The Admiral). At the time, they had a couple EPs and radio singles that did pretty well. Now, they have had two albums debut in the top 10 on the Billboard album charts. On July 23, Greta Van Fleet came back to Omaha to play CHI Health Center. What an almost five-year difference makes.
Opening up the concert was The Velveteers from Colorado. I listened to their new album, Nightmare Daydream, before the concert and thought it was really good. And then, I see their live show. First off, I’ve never seen a lineup with a guitar and two drum kits. It was very innovative and unique, with the two drummers, Baby Pottersmith and Jonny Fig, just shredding the kits like nobody’s business. Lastly, I can’t say enough things about lead vocalist and guitarist Demi Demitro. Her vibe was exceptional, wearing this pink sequence jumpsuit and just strumming the hell out of her guitar like she was this grunge Barbie (Margot Robbie, take notes). Her stage presence, combined with her voice, was incredible, filling that 15,000-seat arena from the back to the front. To say I was impressed by these guys is an understatement. I hope to see them return to Omaha in the near future.
Rival Sons, the bluesy hard rock from Long Beach, California, was the direct support of the night. I have heard the buzz about this band as one of the best live bands out there. And they were absolutely right! Rival Sons were rhythmically tight and groovy. It was a fresh sound that is reminiscent of an older generation. I never knew lead singer Jay Buchanan had such a satisfying live voice. When he holds a song note or goes up into a higher vocal register, the audience would applaud his artistry. It looked like the crowd really enjoyed their performance. I hope they put out some new music in the near future.
Finally, Michigan’s own Greta Van Fleet was ready to take the stage. I want to say how impressed I was by the Greta Van Fleet fanbase, who packed the arena, floor, and both lower and upper bowl. They form a symbiotic relationship between young people who love to vibe to this music and an older generation that are hankering for something that they grew up with, that classic rock sound that feels modern. One thing that was different from the Sokol show in 2017 was them bringing video screens, incredible lighting, and pyrotechnics, which were ignited in these goblet-like monoliths, such a striking image. The whole band gave a performance unlike any other. They were very chill, but they do know how to rock. They played the hits like “Highway Tune” and “Safari Song”, as well as some new tunes like “Built by Nations”. They even did a cover of “That’s All Right”, so someone has Elvis fever. So, what’s next for them? Football stadiums? Who even knows? This band just keeps growing and growing. I would have never predicted them playing arenas in 2017. But, I’m thankful for them for nearly selling out an arena for a band like this so early in their professional career. I’m very excited to see what is next from them.