Aqueous has been on the rise of late, playing–and selling out–bigger and bigger venues across the country and converting new fans left and right. However, for their submission to the 2018 NPR Tiny Desk Contest, the Buffalo-based quartet opted for a less prestigious stage–a non-descript, unfinished basement laundry room.
The Tiny Desk Contest is an annual competition based on NPR’s long-running Tiny Desk Concert series, which brings a diverse stream of artists to NPR’s offices for intimate, stripped-down performances. The contest invites musicians to send a video of them playing an original song at a desk–any desk–the way they would if they were playing a real NPR Tiny Desk Concert. The winner of the contest (judged by a panel of experts including Tarriona “Tank” Ball of Tank and the Bangas, last year’s winners) will get the opportunity to play their own official Tiny Desk Concert, tour the U.S. with NPR and Lagunitas, and appear at a taping of NPR’s Ask Me Another.
As their entry into the contest, Aqueous performed a rendition of “Underlyer” behind a seriously distressed-looking desk. The band took the “stripped-down” aesthetic of Tiny Desk to heart for their submission: Keyboardist/guitarist Dave Loss, normally surrounded by a wall of keyboards and other gear onstage, has just one keyboard (set up on the top of the dryer) and his microphone. Drummer Rob Houk plays a three-piece kit (kick, snare, hi-hat). Guitarist Mike Gantzer delivers the vocals with audible passion and sincerity, and Evan McPhaden keeps the whole ship afloat with his air-tight underlying bass line. The intentionally sparse rendition of the slow-funk cocktail lounge groove hits its mark with style, clearly conveying the band’s talent and chemistry.
Good luck to Aqueous and all the other musicians that entered this year’s 2018 NPR Tiny Desk Contest. You can head here to check out
Aqueous – “Underlyer” – 2018 NPR Tiny Desk Contest Submission
For info about Aqueous’s upcoming shows and more, head to their website.