Greta Van Fleet Enchants Toronto, Canada with Their Hypnotic Brand of Retro-Rock at The Scotiabank Arena on August 19, 2022



Riding the GO Train in Toronto to the Scotiabank Arena to catch Greta Van Fleet, I started up a conversation with a group of college kids on their way to the big CNE Festival. I mentioned I was going to see Greta Van Fleet and got what must be a very standard reply, “Who is she”? It’s like when you hear people ask who is Pink Floyd or which one is Steely Dan? The name fits well with their Retro-70’s vibe. The fact that the band is named after an older women named Gretna Van Fleet in the small town where they grew up, puts it not far from Lynyrd Skynyrd naming themselves after their gym teacher. Having watched the band’s star rise over the last few years, I knew that the Michigan boys would soon be a household name. It’s been only 4 years since that first album and now they are headlining stadiums. The title of their debut album really described the vibe of the night as I entered the arena; it was an evening for Anthems of the Peaceful Army.  

The female skewed crowd was reflected in the choice of opening acts. I had not heard of the first act Hannah Wicklund, as I was expecting a bit of a Joni Mitchell vibe, but boy was I wrong. When the first kick of Aaron Lawson’s drum hit, I knew this would be no soft rock extravaganza. I got hit, and I mean HIT, by the sound. I have stood at stages where the likes of Slayer, Anthrax, Megadeth and Metallica had performed, but NEVER had this much bass hit me. If you didn’t have earplugs, you weren’t hearing for days. While Lawson’s drums and Adam Discipio’s bass work were first rate, the star of the show was clearly Wicklund who prowled the stage barefoot working her magic on vocals and guitar. It was a growling hard blues beat with a touch of Janis Joplin. She had an abbreviated set which really had me itching for more. When she broke out the talk box and lit into a nice 5 min instrumental, I knew that I needed to delve deeper into her work. She had the stage presence and the guitar chops of Nita Strauss with an Allman Brothers blues and soul vibe. Really excited to hear more from her.


Hanna Wicklund and the Stepping Stones

Hannah Wicklund – Guitar, Vocals

Adam Discipio – Bass

Aaron Lawson – Drums



Hanna Wicklund Setlist

1.) Bomb Through the Breeze

2.) Ghost

3.) Strawberry Moon

4.) Songbird Sing

5.) Mama Said


Next up was another female fronted band, The Pretty Reckless, who are just coming off a tour with another heavy female fronted band, Halestorm. It was again, loud, heavy, and it was no surprise that all eyes were on Taylor Momsen. They lit right into the title track from their 2021 album Death by Rock and Roll. The record debuted on the Billboard Hot 200 in February of 2021 and signaled a new era for the band which had been around since their 2010 release Light Me Up. It was a series of tragedies that hit the band in 2017-18 that caused a dramatic shift. First, they were opening for Soundgarden, but then Chris Cornell passed away. Then drummer Jamie Perkins’ brother died. Shortly after that, their producer Kato Khandwala, who had been like a 5th member of the band, passed away. The band had to pump the breaks, and after a much-needed break, they paired with longtime friend Jonathan Wyman. With new blood and molding a new sound, they channeled their grief into new songs to craft their breakout album. For their second song, they flowed into “Since You’re Gone,” which kicks in with a nice Ben Phillips riff. The whole set is filled with power and angst. Momsen has a sultry snarl and a powerful stage presence as she commanded the stage in her platform boots. The eight-song set pulled pretty evenly from their four-album history, and their live show had the audience primed and ready for Greta.


The Pretty Reckless

Taylor Momsen – Vocals

Ben Phillips – Guitar

Mark Damon – Bass

Jamie Perkins– Drums



The Pretty Reckless Setlist

1.) Death by Rock and Roll

2.) Since You’re Gone

3.) Only Love Can Save Me Now

4.) Make Me Wanna Die

5.) Just Tonight

6.) Going to Hell

7.) Heaven Knows

8.) Take Me Down


By the time nine o’clock rolled around and the kabui drape was poised to drop, the fans had worked themselves into a Greta frenzy, chanting “Greta, Greta, Gretta”. The aura of the band is very clearly designed. The positive mood of love and music combined to give the venue such a positive feeling. Critics could say it’s part of the Retro-70’s marketing vibe, but having seen them 4 times myself, there is an authenticity to these brothers that transcends the hype. Just last week in Buffalo, I saw them awkwardly sandwiched on a bill between Ice Nine Kills and Metallica, however, it was clear that this audience was 100% their crowd.

They kicked off their set with “Built By Nations,” which got the audience cranked up. Bathed in Red Light, Josh Kiszka commanded the center stage while his brothers Sam Kiszka on bass and Jake Kiszka playing guitar, took to the left and right of the stage respectively. I wasn’t quite prepared for them to launch into an EXTENDED drum solo so soon, but as they wrapped up their 2nd track, “Safari Song,“ which had a stunning barrage of pyrotechnics, it was all Daniel Wagner getting the attention as he jammed for about 3-4 minutes. For me, it was kind of a buzzkill as the energy was drained a bit as the show that was just kicking in. After a while, Jake and Sam Kiszka joined in on the jam while Josh headed out into the audience to hand out dozens of roses to the adoring female fans in the first few rows. In many ways a Greta Van Fleet is the perfect example of what Rock and Roll can do best, it creates an immersive experience of music and shared emotion with a group of people. It was reminiscent of a Tom Jones show where all the women were so excited to get something from the artist.

Their musicianship and songwriting would be nothing without the aura that they give off. They are selling that experience of 1970’s Classic Rock, and they do it perfectly. Watching Jake Kiszka riff on his signature guitar, you can see where his inspirations and style come from, however, he morphes them into his own unique blend of classic and modern rock. The setlist combined tracks from their three albums From the Fires, Anthem of the Peaceful Army, and the most recent, The Battle at Garden’s Gate. The melodic “Broken Bells” and their Classic “Highway Tune,” (played in the finale) were highlights for me.

Every time I see them live, they continue to impress me, and I wonder if this will be the show that will finally propel them into stardom. Now is the time to see them, so you will be able to tell your kids that you saw a cool band before everyone else thought they were cool. Last year I saw them play at the 5,600 seat Greek Theater in Los Angeles, now they are filling the 19,800 seat Scotiabank Arena. If their follow-up to The Battle at Garden’s Gate continues their trajectory, they are going to be gigantic. Just know as they continue to grow, the window is closing on being able to say, “You know back then ….”


Greta Van Fleet

Josh Kiszka – Vocals

Jake Kiszka – Guitar

Sam Kiszka – Bass

Daniel Wagner -Drums



Greta Van Fleet Setlist

1.) Built by Nations

2.) Safari Song

3.) Drum Solo

4.) Black Smoke Rising

5.) Caravel

6.) Heat Above

7.) Light My Love

8.) Broken Bells

9.) Age of Machine

10.) The Weight of Dreams


11.) Age of Man

12.) Highway Tune

13.) That’s All Right

(Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup cover)

Highway Tune Contd.





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