Greta Van Fleet
Thursday, May 16, 7:30 p.m., $53+
Red Hat Amphitheater, Raleigh
Do mild takes about Greta Van Fleet exist?
Unless you avoid the internet at all costs, you already know the Michigan-born rock revivalists as one of the year’s truly polarizing pop-culture artifacts. Fans see the band’s members as larger-than-life superstars and staunch genre purists, here to save the hallowed tradition of seventies guitar rock from the Post Malones and Twenty One Pilots of the world. To seemingly every music critic on earth, it’s a Led Zeppelin CD case with nothing inside, an abstract algorithmic cash grab, or craven nostalgia purveyed by opportunists with the hair to match.
Safe to say that tossing out spicy opinions about a clearly silly band can feel exhilarating, like obliterating a dunk on a low-hanging goal. This type of easy criticism, though, can be tone-deaf to how acts like this have successfully read the cultural temperature. For now, GVF’s greatest coup seems to be tapping into a large, invisible audience of rock devotees for whom very few observable new bands exist. You can see this with countless subgenres of rock. Many of the critically reviled alt-rock and emo aesthetics of the 2000s, which were all quickly suffocated by the death of rock radio, found surprising new life bonding together.
Will Greta Van Fleet be the saviors of rock? No. Their music is not subversive or era-defining in the way that truly great rock bands are. But their undeniable mainstream success across younger demographics suggests that rock isn’t dead in the water, as people love to claim. More frequently. it’s just smuggled into other, hipper genres with superior marketing infrastructure. Of course, history assures that our current moment will become passé, and new, conventional rock may well return to the radio. But until then, GVF fills the space. Music is a continuum, and silly bands still make the world turn, whether we like it or not.
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