The Greta Van Fleet story really is one to behold. I think it’s especially fascinating to us in Michigan because the band hails from our home state. I’ve been here at WRIF for over three years now and have been lucky to see their rise first hand because The Riff has been huge supporters of GVF since their debut single “Highway Tune” was released two short years ago.
I believe the first time they showed up on most of our radar was when they played Arts, Beats & Eats in Downtown Royal Oak in 2015, and again in 2016, when bassist Sam Kiszka and drummer Danny Wagner were still in high school and twins Josh and Jake Kiszka had just graduated. In 2017, they played a free show at Otus Supply in Ferndale for WRIF. If you remember, the show was our Dave & Chuck The Freak Backyard BBQ After Party and you couldn’t fit another body in that place with a shoe horn. Then they opened the main stage for Riff Fest at DTE Energy Music Theatre. Around the holidays that year, they rocked Detroit with three sold out shows at St. Andrew’s Hall. That was when I first got to see them perform live. A year later, they released their first full-length album, “Anthem Of The Peaceful Army”, and played three sold out shows at The Fillmore. A Saturday Night Live appearance, tour dates overseas and a Grammy win for Best Rock Album followed, and just a couple of weeks ago it was announced that they’d join Metallica for six shows in South America in 2020. A long way from the Rock Stage at Arts, Beats & Eats, for sure.
And a long way from Frankenmuth, Michigan. I always got a kick out of the fact that Greta Van Fleet came out of the quaint Bavarian tourist town of Frankenmuth. I used to announce their songs on-air by saying they were the best thing to come out of Frankenmuth since chicken and beer. And I like to think it’s the fact that they’re from the rural little town Southeast of Saginaw that has kept them seemingly grounded thus far in the wake of the massive success they’ve seen.
Last week I took a day trip to Frankenmuth for the first time in years and I knew I wanted to roll by a couple of spots that were notable in the formative years of Greta Van Fleet. I drove by Frankemnuth High School where the quartet all graduated. Go Eagles! I walked by Fischer Hall where they played some of their earliest hometown shows. And of course, I visited the headquarters for Greta Van Fleet swag in Frankenmuth, The Castle Shops at Bavarian Inn. You can tell how proud those folks are of their native sons. They have two spots dedicated to merch like apparel, CDs and vinyl albums and a wall plastered with newspaper clippings of the band’s rise.
Greta Van Fleet has the potential to keep growing and growing and to make fans here in the state of Michigan, and especially in Frankenmuth, prouder and prouder. Who knows? Maybe one day there will be a dedicated shop to all things GVF in their hometown. I can tell you one thing, I was a little bummed that the folks at the Cheese Haus weren’t selling anything to take advantage of their popularity. I could’ve really gone for some Greta Van Cheese spread on some artisan crackers to go along with my Ted Nugget IPA from Frankenmuth Brewery.