Black curtains veiled the stage as fractured orchestration filled the air, drowning out the cheers of the crowd.
Suddenly, the lights went down, the music swelled and the curtains dropped with blinding light and plumes of fire. Greta Van Fleet had arrived at Capital One Arena.
The Grammy-winning rock band brought their Starcatcher Tour to Washington, D.C., on Monday night, lighting up the arena with over two hours of raw vocals, theatrical swings, glittery outfits and bombastic guitar solos.
The group released their fourth album, Starcatcher, on July 21, and launched their tour three days later.
Their opener was Los Angeles-based indie band Surf Curse, best known for their viral hit “Freaks.” Bathed in crimson light, Nick Rattigan, the band’s lead singer and drummer, punctured the air with throaty belts and impressive percussion. They finished with their wistful single “Sugar,” setting the stage for the show to come.
Greta Van Fleet began their set with “The Falling Sky” — a spiritual ballad that made full use of the band’s dual guitarists, Jake and Sam Kiszka. Lead singer Josh Kiszka arrived in a white jumpsuit with silver jewelry and bare feet, walking nimbly across the dark stage. Drummer Danny Wagner sat behind a massive percussion set, dark eyeshadow contrasting a sheer, metallic top.
Songs didn’t end — they merged and collided, coalescing in mesmerizing chunks of musical experimentation that weaved together many of the group’s most popular tracks.
Each band member had their moment in the spotlight. Sam Kiszka stunned on the piano, while the set provided Jake Kiszka with plenty of opportunities to show off his jaw-dropping guitar skills.
Toward the end of the show’s first act, Wagner took control of the stage, powering through a massive drum solo that exhibited his mastery of the craft. The crowd came alive with shouts of support as his drumsticks moved through blurred hands.
The performance then moved to a smaller stage at the opposite end of the arena’s floor. Josh Kiszka reignited the show with a cover of Alex North and Hy Zaret’s 50s hit, “Unchained Melody,” which ended with a nod to Elvis Presley, who famously covered the song.
After their brief relocation, Greta Van Fleet returned to the main stage, riding on the shoulders of the crew tossing flowers to adoring fans. New costumes were donned, most notably Josh Kiszka’s ivory-colored priest-like robes.
He concluded the show as a mohawked angel, throwing his clothes to the crowd before embracing the first-row concertgoers below him. Wagner hammered his snares as the stage caught fire and lights strobed overhead. It was a culmination of the group’s theatrics and musical prowess; a spectacle of rock and roll.
The band bowed out with a two-song encore, starting with “Light My Love” and finishing with the aptly-named “Farewell For Now.”
During “Light My Love,” audience members were encouraged to hold up colored paper in front of their phone’s flashlights, creating a rainbow effect across the crowd. It was a show of support for Josh Kiszka, who announced in June he is in an eight-year same-sex relationship.
“Farewell For Now” ended the concert as it began — a celebration of community, love and the spiritual connections that form within rock music. Greta Van Fleet’s performance solidified their status as the four horsemen of rock and roll, enlightening the arena with their sonic gospel.