In late December 2017, three downtown venues hosted capacity crowds for a night of fan-pleasing spectacles, each with its own story line and vibe. Relive the shows in words, photos and videos at Local Spins.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This is part of a weekly series recapping the biggest Local Spins stories of 2018. This review and set of photo galleries drew the most readers in January 2018, heralding what would be a monster year for Michigan’s own Greta Van Fleet, including taking the stage with Elton John, selling out dozens of shows across the globe and last week releasing its full-length debut album, “Anthem of the Peaceful Army,” to the delight of its hometown fans in Frankenmuth while hitting No. 1 on the U.S. iTunes chart.
Support our coverage of
West Michigan's music scene
SCROLL DOWN FOR PHOTO GALLERIES, VIDEOS
Call it wall-to-wall musical passion times three on New Year’s Eve Eve.
The warm-up to New Year’s celebrations ushering in 2018 boasted three jam-packed shows within a six-block radius in downtown Grand Rapids — all of them attracting standing-room-only throngs of generation-spanning fans, and each show with its own distinctive vibe: the hard rock of Greta Van Fleet at The Intersection, the indie-alt-folk of The Accidentals at Founders Brewing, the classic rock of A Tribute to Tom Petty at The Pyramid Scheme.
Local Spins was there to capture the action in words, photos and videos.
GRETA VAN FLEET AT THE INTERSECTION
At one point during the encore of Greta Van Fleet’s boisterous, sold-out show at The Intersection on Saturday night, lead singer Josh Kiszka and the guitarist from opening act Goodbye June found themselves on their backs writhing on the stage during a jubilant, over-the-top cover of The Doors’ “Roadhouse Blues” while other band members (plus harmonica player Kelly Kiszka) flailed and stomped gleefully through the extended heavy jam to the euphoric delight of the throng.
It was the capper on a what can only be described as a triumphant, jam-packed homecoming for the young, hard-rocking Michigan rock band that’s ascended the ranks and gotten more attention in a short period of time than any regional band in recent memory.
Hey, when even the stage security guy gushes, “These guys are the shit,” you know something special is going on.
This is the sort of band that gets fans – many of them proudly sporting simple, black Greta Van Fleet T-shirts – chanting vociferously for not one but “10 more songs” before returning for an encore (three songs on Saturday) despite a few sound-mix glitches.
It’s also the sort of group that’s been booking – and selling out – ever bigger venues in high-speed fashion as it capitalizes on widespread media attention as a national breakout act. It’s also the sort of band that captivates baby boomers reared on classic rock as well as teens and 20-somethings embracing fist-pumping robustness that melds some psychedelic splendor into its jams.
Like the best rock shows, watching Frankenmuth’s Greta Van Fleet can be an immersive, almost hypnotic experience over time, with the 21-year-old Kiszka channeling Robert Plant with his own distinctive yodeling and octave-spanning screams while his brothers Jake and Sam and drummer Danny Wagner deliver their head-banging rock ‘n’ roll take on the blues.
After a sold-out affair earlier this year at the much smaller Stache (The Intersection’s front room), Saturday night’s show in front of an adoring, elbow-to-elbow audience was another step forward for a band that still has plenty of room for maturation and development as it seeks to conquer the world and prove rock certainly isn’t dead.
PHOTO GALLERY: Greta Van Fleet, Goodbye June at The Intersection
Photos by Anthony Norkus
For more videos, check out the Local Spins Facebook page.
THE ACCIDENTALS AT FOUNDERS BREWING
There simply is no other act quite like The Accidentals.
They proved that in spades at Founders Brewing on Saturday night, the first of two straight shows celebrating New Year’s Eve in the taproom (with The Crane Wives set to join the fun Sunday night).
There are no musical boundaries that these three alt-folk musicians – multi-instrumentalists Savannah Buist, Katie Larson and Michael Dause – aren’t willing to cross, to explore, to integrate into their own unusually captivating artistry.
Whether it’s prog-rock, or jazz, or Celtic mayhem, or innovative covers of The Pixies, Andrew Bird, The Beatles and Rush, or their ever-rollicking, on-stage collaborations with GR hip hop artist Rick Chyme, The Accidentals have become the very definition of contemporary musical inclusiveness — the anti-Trump of music in a world that so desperately needs to break down walls not build them, that deserves robust acceptance of differences in style, culture and genre not division and single-mindedness.
It’s refreshing to see such universality in a young, exuberant, generous and kind collection of musicians who draw the same happy, feel-good response from its fans everywhere they play.
On Saturday night, after opening sets by Jake Allen and Stephie James, they not only gave a packed house of those fans a healthy dose of favorites and tracks from their 2017 Sony Masterworks debut, “Odyssey,” but also rolled out four brand new songs that even further push the envelope of sounds, approaches, rhythmic diversity and genre shifts.
After witnessing a performance by this next generation of line-blurring virtuosity one gets the feeling that maybe, just maybe, everything will be all right with the world after all.
PHOTO GALLERY: The Accidentals at Founders Brewing
Photos by Anna Sink
VIDEO: The Accidentals at Founders Brewing
A TRIBUTE TO TOM PETTY AT THE PYRAMID SCHEME
When rock icon Tom Petty passed away unexpectedly in October, it sparked deep and overwhelming sadness among many musicians who mourned the loss of this uber-influential songwriter.
His death also has sparked as many tribute shows across West Michigan as any legendary artist in recent memory, with more to come. (The next one on the docket: Hazy Past with Jack Leaver and members of other bands playing Rockford Brewing at 7:30 p.m. Thursday.)
But Saturday’s night’s tribute at The Pyramid Scheme – filled to the gills – may have set the bar at a new level.
Organized by bassist and guitarist Max Lockwood (Big Dudee Roo), this impressive display brought to the stage a who’s who lineup of Michigan favorites: May Erlewine, Karisa Wilson, Lucas Wilson, Phil Barry, Mike Lynch, Daine Hammerle and Joe VanAcker.
And they didn’t disappoint a crowd that came to cheer and sing along with every lyric from Petty songs ranging from “Free Fallin’ ” to “Learning to Fly,” with various members of the group trading off on lead vocals.
Better yet, proceeds from this homage to Petty will be donated to Grand Rapids’ Safe Haven Ministries, which provides services to women and children who’ve suffered domestic abuse – making it yet another feel-good experience in an evening full of them.
PHOTO GALLERY: Tom Petty Tribute at The Pyramid Scheme
Photos by Katy Batdorff