The Wait For Dreams In Gold

Words by Courtney Thomassen

 

At 4AM on Thursday, October 27th, while most of us were still asleep, the first general admission ticket holders were arriving outside of Spectrum Center in Charlotte, North Carolina to line up for Greta Van Fleet’s Dreams in Gold tour. Waiting in line at 4AM for a 7PM show may seem excessive, but that’s just the half of it – literally. This show wasn’t set to begin at 7PM October 27th, it was scheduled for 7PM October 28th. When these fans arrived, armed with sleeping bags, blankets, and folding chairs, they were signing up for a 39 hour wait outside in the cold, Charlotte air. While camping is a common occurrence at Greta Van Fleet concerts, this was the longest wait many had witnessed. For these dedicated members of the fanbase, which has been nicknamed the Peaceful Army after the band’s first album, it was a small price to pay for a one way ticket to the barricade.

 

The Michigan rock band consisting of brothers Jake (guitar), Josh (vocals) and Sam Kiszka (bass/keys), and drummer Danny Wagner released their sophomore album The Battle at Garden’s Gate in April 2021. During this time Covid lockdowns prevented a tour from accompanying the release but, in March 2022, the first date on the Dreams in Gold tour finally arrived. With a full year packed with shows and very few breaks, complications were bound to arise. Unfortunately for the southeast, all Florida dates were among the handful of shows that fell victim to circumstance. After rupturing an eardrum during the band’s performance in Bangor, Maine in early October, vocalist Josh Kiszka was forced to take time off to heal. A total of five shows are now set to be rescheduled, including Jacksonville, Tampa and Hollywood, Florida. In the days leading up to Friday’s show, online forums were wild with speculation on if and when Charlotte would join the list of canceled shows. While some dates had been given multiple days’ notice, others did not know until the day before. When those first 100+ joined the line on Thursday, they did so not knowing for sure if there would be a show at all. Thursday afternoon came and went with no cancellation announcement and, at 6:30PM Friday, the doors were finally opened to thousands of relieved fans. 

 

Rock duo Crown Lands and R&B group Durand Jones & The Indications provided support as opening acts before Greta’s 9PM set time. After a short but upbeat set of 4 songs from Crown Lands and a longer, mellower set from Durand Jones & The Indications, the crowd was all warmed up and ready for the main event. During the changeover a large curtain plastered with symbols representing the tracks on Garden’s Gate was raised around the perimeter of the stage. As showtime neared, the lights dimmed until the arena was lit only by the glow of cell phones, camera apps opened and ready. A recording of Josh’s voice backed by pounding drums cut through the roars of the crowd as a strobing effect behind the curtain cast a silhouette of the set. The intro continued with a spoken monologue from Josh underscored with an acoustic rendition of “The Weight of Dreams,” the finale of Garden’s Gate. Modified lyrics from the track conclude the recording. In the end we will spend the weight of dreams in gold, Josh says, followed by a swelling instrumental that transitioned to the opening song, “Built By Nations.” White lights cut to a bold red and, when the first riff hit, the curtain dropped to reveal the band. In this moment I couldn’t help but wish they opened with “When the Curtain Falls” (I’m a sucker for the simple things), but that thought was quickly eclipsed by one of the most catching songs on the album. After a solo from guitarist Jake Kiszka, large plumes of fire blasted from goblet shaped structures at the back of the stage. Since this tour is truly a celebration of the music from Garden’s Gate, most songs on the setlist were from this newest release. Fan favorites including “Light My Love” and “Heat Above” are staples of the setlist and are played at every show, but there is always at least one wildcard thrown into the mix. While on paper the nine song setlist may seem short, extended songs, solos and a 20 minute encore create a full 2 hour set. Rather than just playing through their recorded discography, the band provides an experience that is unmatched. After “Safari Song,” drummer Danny Wagner performs an 8 minute long solo during which Josh hands out white roses to fans in the front of the pit and, closing out the main set, an unbridled 15 minute version of “The Weight of Dreams” is a journey all on its own. From the words of Josh, you bought the ticket, now it’s time to take the ride

 

Greta Van Fleet was scheduled to perform at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena on October 21st. The band has yet to announce a new date, but it is expected to be rescheduled soon. 

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