“these are the times you’ll remember well”
This post is so long overdue. It’s taken me two whole months to gather my wits enough to write it in any kind of coherent way. On August 5th and 6th, my friend Haley and I got to see Greta Van Fleet live in Nashville for the first two shows of their Strange Horizons Tour. I don’t even know where to begin with this experience. It was indescribable. It was transcendent. It was phantasmagorical, as one Josh Kiszka might say.
Both Haley and I have been aware of Greta Van Fleet for a few years, but became completely obsessed at the beginning of the summer after listening to their newest album, The Battle at Garden’s Gate. Every time we hung out, we played their records, watched interviews, and listened to live performances. We brought it up in every possible conversation we could. We knew we had to see them live in August, there was no way around it.
Initially, I bought us tickets for the first night of the tour, Thursday August 5th. I got us seats in the middle of the very first section after the pit, dead center. I was proud of how good our seats were and couldn’t wait to go. A few days after I bought the first tickets, I thought “why not” and purchased us tickets for night two as well. They were a little further away, but we would still be there, watching them live, two nights in a row.
And thus the anticipation began. We counted down the days until the concert, planning outfits and pictures and bracing ourselves for arguably the most exciting weekend of our lives. I know everyone around us was definitely tired of hearing about it, but we didn’t notice or care.
About three days before the first show, I happened to have a little extra money saved up and out of sheer curiosity, was checking Ticketmaster to see if there happened to be any pit tickets still available for night two. Within 5 minutes, I had sold our tickets in section 207 and was now the proud owner of two GA pit tickets to see my favorite band in the whole world. I couldn’t contain my excitement, and immediately texted Haley the news. She freaked out, and chaos ensued.
When August 5 finally arrived, my heart almost couldn’t take it. I worked a half day at work that day, and I was barely able to focus on my job. At 12, I practically ran out of the door and headed right to Haley’s house to get ready.
While getting ready, we blasted Greta on Haley’s record player and couldn’t stop talking about all the parts of the show we were most excited for.
Our drive to our hotel in Franklin was full of anticipation and nerves. Conversation consisted of what songs we would most like to hear live, and what we thought the band might be wearing. We had to keep ourselves talking and occupied so we wouldn’t just die from pure excitement.
We finally reached our hotel, and started unloading our bags so we could meet Haley’s aunt for check in. Our plan was to get our room, refresh our hair and makeup, and head to the venue.
I am so thankful for Haley’s aunt staying with us while we were there! It was so nice of her to put up with our endless concert hype that weekend. ❤
Once we had gotten all our stuff inside and packed the essentials for the concert, we were ready to get going, for real this time. I honestly don’t know how we made it to the venue safely. We were so pumped and could barely even function. I remember having the most insane feeling of excitement in my stomach. Finally, we made it to FirstBank Amphitheater in Franklin, TN. The Greta shows were actually the first ticketed shows at this venue, and I couldn’t have imagined a better space for this band. The amphitheater is built into Graystone Quarry, and is absolutely stunning. It was so cool to get to “christen” the venue.
We got there early enough that we had to wait a few minutes before they let anyone into the bowl, and boy was it hot outside. However, even the weather couldn’t keep us from being completely stoked for what lay ahead.
Once we got to our seats, we nearly flipped out. I mean full on freak-out-mode because we realized we were REALLY there, REALLY about to see our favorite band, and had REALLY good seats to top it all off!! Sitting there waiting for the show to start was the most impatient I’ve ever been in my life, no exaggeration.
Before openers came out, we opted to get some pictures before we got too distracted by the fun and the music.
The first opener was Cedric Burnside, a blues singer from Memphis. His set was great, and his guitar playing was so groovy! I don’t listen to a whole lot of blues, so it was nice to hear something a little different.
After Cedric, the second opener was the husband wife duo Shovels & Rope. I absolutely loved their set, and have listened to them tons since the show! Their music reminds me of a kind of outlaw, western take on rock and roll. Super cool stuff.
After Shovels & Rope’s set, I can’t even describe Haley and I’s excitement. If we thought we were pumped before, it was nothing compared to when we realized the next people in front of us on that stage would be Greta themselves. It was unreal. When the stage workers pulled the black curtain down and revealed the set, we freaked all over again!
I can only describe the next few minutes as absolutely magical. The lights went down, an intro video played on the screens, and Josh’s vocals from their song Caravel came over the speakers…
“Crash against wave upon wave//To strange horizons”
First out of the shadows was Sammy, and he sat down at his keyboard to play what we immediately recognized as the beginning notes to their song Heat Above. That familiar concert feeling flooded over Haley and I; the shock over your favorite person being real and in front of you. After Sammy came Danny at the drums, then Jake with his guitar. After they got the beginning of the song in full swing, everyone in the audience knew it was time for Josh to come out. In true front man fashion, Josh skipped out from the side of the stage with his arms wide open, as if to embrace the crowd.
I’ll spare you from sharing my concert thought process song-by-song (although I definitely could without hesitation). I do have a playlist on my Apple Music which I will link here that contains the Nashville set list in order 🙂 definitely give it a listen if you’ve never heard their music! (And if you’re already a Greta fan, you’re welcome to listen too)
The energy of the show was indescribable. Hearing the songs we love so much live and with thousands of others who love them too is like nothing else. We soaked it up as much as we possibly could, and got even more excited to be in the pit the next night.
Haley and I had an unbelievable amount of fun that Thursday night. We screamed and sang until our throats hurt and danced and jumped until our feet hurt. Greta puts on the best live show I’ve ever seen, and we felt every minute of it. And I can’t even tell you how much more excited for night two we were after we saw them on night one.
On our walk back to the car, we continued to dance and jump and sing our favorite songs (I know it sounds like we were being obnoxious, and we probably were, but we were way too excited and I won’t apologize for it). We put the top down on Haley’s jeep, cranked up Greta as loud as the radio would go, and screamed the songs all the way back to our hotel.
You could definitely tell all the people that were rolling in from the Greta show, between the hippie clothes and the sweat and the concert T-shirts. We made our way up to the room, and couldn’t wait to tell Haley’s aunt all about our night (once again, she was such a good sport listening to us fan girl). We went through our photos and videos and painstakingly picked out what we wanted to post, then got showered and changed and ready for bed.
I don’t even know how to describe the craziness of what happened next. Both Haley and I were under the covers, tucked into bed, just about asleep. I picked up my phone to check it one last time, and had to do a double take. The top notification on my screen read “Instagram: danny_gvf liked your photo”. (“@danny_gvf” being Danny Wagner, drummer of Greta Van Fleet).
I sat up immediately and said “Haley! Haley!! Look!!” And I told her what had happened and she freaked out and then for the next hour and a half there was no way in heck we were calm enough to sleep. (So thanks for the excitement Danny, I appreciate it <3)
After some fitful, mostly restless sleep, we woke up the next morning, Friday August 6th, already barely able to contain ourselves. I can still feel the butterflies I had in my stomach all day that day. We had to do something to distract ourselves (besides just being obnoxious all day) so we opted to explore Downtown Franklin with Haley’s aunt. I wore my Greta concert t-shirt for shopping and lunch, and ended up talking to several people that day that had gone or would be going to the shows.
We had such a good day shopping around and having lunch with Haley’s Aunt; I’m so glad we got to spend some time with her!! We got back to the hotel in the early afternoon, and then it was really time to get down to business. We had way too much fun getting ready; we had GVF playing at full volume and danced around the hotel room while we got dressed and fixed our makeup. We knew we had the time of our lives to look forward to that night!
We hyped ourselves up the whole way to the venue, and also had to calm our nerves (I don’t know why we were nervous, it just happened). It was like it was almost too much to be going to experience something that exciting.
When we got to the venue, we practically ran to the entrance, we were so ready to get in line. Let me tell you, they don’t prepare you for how special you feel when you actually get to get into the designated GA line. We felt so important. Almost immediately, we started talking to the girl in front of us and made friends instantly. We decided to stick together as a trio so we could keep each other’s spots in the pit if it got crazy or pushy. (Which it never did)
Autumn, if you’re reading this, we miss you!!! We have to reunite soon :’)
I’ll tell you, this was my very first show ever being in the pit, so I definitely learned a few things for next time. I felt like we had been standing forever and my feet were killing me, but honestly it was a wonderful first experience, and it was all worth it for my favorite band.
The openers, Cedric and Shovels & Rope, were even better the second night because we knew the sets they were gonna play and the whole pit was dancing along with them.
Meeting so many amazing people made the wait for Greta a lot more bearable, but the excitement was still palpable. We had a blast the night before, so we knew being that close to the stage would be absolutely life-changing. (Does that sound too dramatic? I promise I’m dead serious)
I don’t even know where to start to describe the show. Every song was perfect. Every moment was better than the last. Being so close to them in the pit, you could feel how happy they were to return to performing and doing what they love. You could feel the energy and love they put into every note.
The second night had the same set list as the first, so we knew what to expect, but that certainly didn’t make it any less exciting.
Forgive me for the upcoming spam of photos, but it was a once in a lifetime experience and I wanted to capture as much as possible. And what better place to share them than this blog?
I’ll admit that I screamed my head off for most of the show. I can’t be held responsible for how I acted that close to my favorite people 🙂
I was so proud of the pictures and videos I was able to get during the show. That’s the closest I’ve ever been at a concert, and because it was them it meant that much more to me. I can’t wait to look back at these pictures and remember how much fun it was experiencing this. (And also probably brag to everyone around me about how I was practically front row and Josh waved at me)
During their song Weight of Dreams, Jake has an absolutely incredible guitar solo that is even better live than on the record. During this solo, Josh accompanied Jake’s shredding on his tambourine.
Once again, I have to emphasize how much you can feel their passion for what they do. It makes a big difference seeing a band live when you can feel how much they love it.
At some point, and I can’t remember exactly when, Josh absolutely made our night by smiling and waving at us. That’s one of the biggest perks of the pit, for sure. Being close enough to smile and wave at them is priceless. (And believe me we made the most of it 😂)
Our spot was on Sam’s side of the stage, so I was able to get some really awesome pics of Sam tearing it up on the bass.
Because we were on Sam’s side of the stage, it was hard for me to get really close up pictures of Jake, but I got a few shots that I was pretty proud of.
They always throw a few things out at the end of their shows, classic things like Danny’s drumsticks, Jake’s guitar pick, and maybe even the set list. On night two we got to see something pretty special: Josh grabbed his tambourine and handed it out to a girl in the pit. (I think at a later show she was even able to get it signed)
The next series of photos captures Josh giving us his trademark “Live your legend through the intelligence of love” speech. It was wonderful 🙂 At each of their shows, Josh loves to send the crowd away with this quote, often accompanied by encouraging us to “Get into plenty of trouble!” as well. It’s the perfect send off for an absolutely perfect show.
I hope I was able to capture even a fraction of the magic of GVF in this blog post. I have not been able to get this concert out of my head, and I really don’t think I ever will. I was so grateful for the opportunity to experience both shows and be in the pit for the first time ever. You better believe I will be buying more tickets as soon as they have more shows.
Thank you all for reading, and listening to me ramble about my favorite band. If you’re a Greta fan already, I hope you enjoyed my point of view of the Nashville shows, and if you aren’t a fan yet, I urge you to give them a listen. Make sure to stay tuned for more blog posts coming soon!
Stay sweet (& get into plenty of trouble), Sophia ❤