Aqueous set out on a huge 5-week North American tour earlier this winter starting in Indiana, leading them to the edge of the West Coast and then down south ending in New Orleans. Just a week after the West Coast tour ended, the band played their first show back home in New York at Rochester’s Anthology for a sold-out crowd on Friday. For years Aqueous has been steadily growing up the ranks, playing bigger venues and getting placed higher up on festival lineups, but they have always had an overwhelming amount of support in New York. Guitarist Mike Gantzer acknowledged the love of Rochester referring to it as their second home. So being settled in at said home on Friday, the guys of Aqueous provided attendees with what would be a night of almost four hours of face-melting goodness.
The night of never-ending jams started off with the “The Median” from the band’s 2014 album, Cycles. The song starts off at a slow tempo, featuring vocal work by both Gantzer and Dave Loss (Guitar/Keys/Vocals) and led into what would be the first huge break-out of the evening. This jam highlighted the fast hands and steady beat keeping by drummer Rob Houk as the band launched from 0-60. From there, the band dove into another Cycles classic, “Kitty Chaser (Explosions)”. It was right in the middle of “Kitty Chaser” when Aqueous switched it up and played the always nostalgic “Undone – Sweater Song” by Weezer, before coming back to an absolutely ripping end to “Kitty Chaser”. The rest of the first set featured numerous Aqueous hits as the band seamlessly transitioned from one to the next including a face-melting jam during “Origami”. By the time the band closed out the first set with “Warren in the Window”, the packed Rochester crowd was hooting and hollering knowing that there were still two more huge sets to come.
The second set of the evening will go down as being a historic one for the Buffalo rockers. Aqueous is known for their improvisation that occurs when they jam on their released music, but until last night, they had never played an all-improv set. Ganzter even stated that they were just as excited to see what would happen as the crowd was, but no one was truly ready for just how well they would do. Once the band started, they never stopped, going 25 minutes over the scheduled length of the set. Whether it was Loss ripping on the keys or Evan McPhaden dropping bass bombs, something good was always taking place.
The set spanned many genres showcasing the true talent of each member of the band. There were ambient jams, up-tempo funk, and some undeniably heavy rock numbers. Perhaps the most astonishing thing about their first ever improv set was the cohesiveness between each member. This young band was playing on levels that you see from bands who have been together for 20+ years. The set closed with each member playing at the speed of light as a cascade of rainbow themed lights were laid down by the bands Lighting Director, Ryan Bress.
The energy in the room was palpable as Aqueous left the stage to take another short intermission before hopping on for one last set. The third portion of the show was much like the first, as many blowouts perfectly segued into the next featuring one of the funkiest, low-end, synth-driven jams of “Aldehyde” one could ever hope to hear. All around the room, all one could see was smiles, hands in the air, and people wiggling all over the place. When you looked on stage, each of the Aqueous members had smiles to match. They were having just as much fun as the sold-out crowd, if not more.
To close out the night, Aqueous covered the Pink Floyd hit, “Run Like Hell” right in the middle of an emotionally-driven “All In” sandwich. Despite having played for three hours already, there was no stopping Aqueous from coming out to perform an encore before closing out the night. It started with Rob Houk playing a jazz number on the drums before the guys threw it back to their second album rounding out a historical night in Rochester bringing it to a close with “Triangle”.
By the end of the night, there was even more energy and applause than when the band first took the stage. Anyone who has seen Aqueous over the last few years will tell you that their growth has been an absolute treat to watch and hear. Their sound is defined, and their live shows are immaculate. From dance floor grooves to face-melting ragers, the band delivers whatever you’re into. If you haven’t seen Aqueous before, there is no time like the present. These guys are going to be around for a while.
Check out some gorgeous photos from Friday night’s show below courtesy of photographer Matt Shotwell.
The band continues their 2019 winter tour with a scheduled stop in Erie, PA on Saturday. Fans can head to the band’s website for tickets to all upcoming shows.
Setlist: Aqueous | Anthology | Rochester, NY | 3/15/2019
Set One: The Median, Kitty Chaser (Explosions) > Undone – The Sweater Song (Weezer cover) > Kitty Chaser (Explosions), Origami > Good Enough > Complex I, Warren in the Window
Set Two: All Improv
Set Three: 20/20 > Aldehyde, Underlyer > Marty, All In > Run Like Hell (Pink Floyd cover) > All In
Encore: Jazz Improv > Triangle