Rialto Theatre was packed Wednesday night for the Arizona debut of Michigan rock quartet Greta Van Fleet, a show that was originally scheduled for the much-smaller University of Arizona area club The Rock.
The venue swap came after the band — siblings Josh Kiszka, Sam Kiszka and Jake Kiszka, with Danny Wagner on drums — quickly sold out the smaller club. And to be honest, they probably could have jumped one venue bigger; the Rialto sold out its GVF show within weeks, which, if you know anything about Tucson’s last-minute mentality, is pretty impressive.
The audience on Wednesday packed into the Rialto stacked body-to-body from the stage and spilled out the doors leading to the lobby. And although it was billed as an all-ages show, a majority of those folks were north of 40. As one “mature” women in the lobby put it, they were there because of the band’s love of classic rock — think 1960s-70s style rock — and uncanny and unapologetic ability to channel Led Zeppelin.
Frontman Josh Kiszka nailed the Robert Plant-esqe extended, high-pitched howl on every song he sang off the band’s months-old debut EP “Black Smoke Rising.” Kiszka would end every song with this impossibly high note that he carried for several moments until the crushing applause drowned him out. Perhaps the best comparison was the band’s encore, “Highway Tune,” which opens with this impossible to miss Robert Plant-style wail.
Truth be told, after halfway into the 75-minute show, Kiszka’s vocals started sounding a bit redundant, but the audience loved it. And the band has a small, but strong catalogue of songs to draw from including “Black Smoke Rising” and “Highway Tune,” their debut single that surprised every one including the band members when it topped the modern rock charts a few weeks back.
GVF also rolled out a couple of new ones from their forthcoming sophomore EP “From the Fires” due out Nov. 10. Their music is old-school rock: crunching guitars delivered by Sam and Jake Kiszka, percussive blasts from Wagner and vocal aerobics from Josh Kiszka. Songs stretch on for minutes beyond the radio friendly three minutes to allow the band members to truly express their inner Led Zeppelin, or Black Sabbath. One of the night’s highlights was a pretty neat display from Josh’s twin Jake, who held his guitar above his head and over his back while playing. Through the minute showcase, he didn’t miss a note or lose his balance.
Contact reporter Cathalena E. Burch at firstname.lastname@example.org or 573-4642. On Twitter @Starburch