Once again, pop music dominated the 2018 Grammy's with Bruno Mars sweeping up the 6-most prestigious awards. Alessia Cara and Ed Sheeran joined Mars as mainstream icons that seemed to go over-appreciated in modern pop culture. However, one category was absent from the mainstream altogether: rock. Although rock has its own 4-award categories, making the late Leonard Cohen, Mastodon, The Foo Fighters, and The War on Drugs all Grammy winners in its own category, rock was left out of the biggest nominations like Album of the Year, Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best New Artist.
Aside from an awkward, rendition of Sting’s solo, “Englishman in New York” featuring Shaggy, and a Fats Domino/Chuck Berry tribute by Gary Clarke Jr. and Jon Batiste, rock was absent from the stage performances as well.
That being said is rock, and roll, dead?
Greta Van Fleet from Michigan might be the classic genre's only hope for revival. The band consists of 21-year-old lead singer, Josh Kiszka his twin brother, Jake Kiszka on guitar, their younger brother, 18-year-old Sam Kiszka on bass, with friend Danny Wagner on drums.
The band’s claim to fame? They sound a whole lot like Led Zeppelin.
From Left to Right: Josh Kiszka, Sam Kiszka, Danny Wagner, Jake Kiszka (Photo taken from official Facebook page)
Kiszka's voice compares to Robert Plant’s husky sound. He claims he’s studied Jimmy Page so much that he can pick his brain, and after listening to their first EP, “Highway Tune” I thoroughly believe it. But Van Fleet is no tribute band. In fact, they cover just about everything but Zeppelin. Their songwriting abilities are sincere and original - consider the first verse from the blues-y ballad “A Change is Gonna Come”, it invokes their wild imagery and captures the band’s tendency to convey big statements. In fact, these lyrics should be a battle cry to the music industry itself.
I was born by the river in a little tent
and just like the river baby, I’ve been runnin’ ever since
It’s been a long long time comin’
and I know change is gonna come
On stage, they cover Cream, Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin, and shred their own songs from their latest double EP, From the Fires. The band is finalizing their first album, which is expected to reflect their deep love and understanding of the blues. Just children at their first ever concert, Buddy Guy, the Kiszka twins and Sam grew up listening to diverse music. While the band cites folk, R&B, and classic rock as sound influences, the blues is where the four musicians seem to find common ground and inspiration. In an interview, they cited The Black Keys as their biggest musical inspiration.
Greta Van Fleet sounds like Led Zeppelin, admires the Black Keys, and covers Janice Joplin. I think the future of rock and roll is in good hands. As for a Grammy appearance, we can only hope.
The band currently tours Europe and heads to the U.S. for Coachella on both weekends, April 13 and April 20. Following Coachella, Greta Van Fleet plays around the States until June. Check out the double EP From the Fires available on Spotify and Apple Music. I recommend “Safari Song,” “Highway Tune,” and “Flower Power.”
Charissa Inman is a contributor for Daily Lobo Music. She can be reached at email@example.com