Can Greta Van Fleet revive classic rock?

Jo Stewart

More stories from Jo Stewart


Jo Stewart, Wikimedia Common and Flickr.

Rock band Greta Van Fleet is not only rising to fame due to their uniqueness, but also their well discussed comparison to Led Zeppelin. Photos courtesy of Wikimedia Common and Flickr.

American rock band Greta Van Fleet has been cultivating their unique 70’s throwback sound since 2012. While the band has been winning Grammys since 2019, their current 2021 tour has not only spiked their popularity on the charts and social media, but has also brought up a recurring question for the group: Are they too late to rock ‘n’ roll?

With their rise to fame, Greta Van Fleet hasn’t been able to escape their comparison to the renowned classic rock band Led Zeppelin. Listeners were quick to critique the familiar sounds of the new group, calling out how they’re about 30 years too late. Most noticed was the resemblance between lead singer Josh Kiszka’s voice to Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant.

As I was raised on “dad rock” and a constant loop of U2’s greatest hits, it’s not surprising that I quickly jumped on to Greta Van Fleet’s throwback sound. I was elated to finally be able to enjoy the sound my parents always raved about while the people who created it were actually still alive. Maybe, since I wasn’t impacted by Led Zeppelin in the same way as the generations before me, it was easier for me to enjoy Greta Van Fleet’s music without critique.

While I’ve never been a diehard Zeppelin fan, even I can admit the similarities between the two groups. Loud and heavy guitars, steady baselines, slamming drum solos — when it comes to classic rock, it’s difficult to switch it up. Even so, Greta Van Fleet takes the baseline and influence of classic rock to new levels.

Kiszka’s vocals, often critiqued due to their phrasing and lyrical style similar to Plant’s, are just getting warmed up. The group’s songs, like “Heat Above” and “Safari Song” allow Kiszka to create a whimsical mix between floating tenor melodies and classic rock ‘n’ roll growls that rival his predecessor Plant. When it comes to rock ‘n’ roll, Kiszka takes a refreshing angle on the classic rock of my parents’ generation.

Vocals aren’t the only thing that make Greta Van Fleet the Grammy award winners they are today. The band takes a new approach to classic rock, including heavenly synth solos, smooth orchestral support and intricate piano alongside the traditional four part band. While Led Zeppelin’s music was undoubtedly iconic in its time, I argue that Greta Van Fleet is just as iconic in the year 2021.

On top of it all, Greta Van Fleet stands out with their fashionable 70’s aesthetics. Kiszka’s bedazzled jumpsuits and bare feet are just a few things that make him stand out. The rest of the band follows suit — long hair, bare chests and sparkles that out do Elton John. From the surface, the only similarities between Greta Van Fleet and Led Zeppelin is their shared love of long, bouncy hair that reaches to the sky.

Greta Van Fleet is a much needed sound and look in a world of over-saturated pop and rap music. While classic rock was a constant on the radio while Led Zeppelin was rising to fame, Greta Van Fleet’s take on it is an outlier in 2021. Kiszka and his crew are paving their own path in the music industry, no matter the influence they’ve taken from the past.

With 948k Instagram followers on Instagram and 351.8k followers on TikTok, Greta Van Fleet’s influence is spreading far and wide. Four million monthly listeners is pretty good for an “underground” and “alternative” group; I personally see about 10 dreamy edits of each member everyday online. While the band hasn’t reached Led Zeppelin’s levels of fame, their hold on social media is a good start to catch them up.

The band’s latest album release, “Battle at the Garden’s Gate,” is an outstanding culmination of the sound they’ve been creating over the past nine years. While I can see the ironic similarities between Greta Van Fleet and Led Zeppelin, I truly believe there is no way Led Zeppelin could write “Light My Love,” or that Greta Van Fleet could write “Stairway to Heaven.” Each group has coined their own musical legacies, and I can’t wait to see what Great Van Fleet does to further theirs.