Aqueous Brings “Groove Rock,” Exploratory Improv to Baltimore’s 8×10

On a cold Thursday night in Baltimore (March 22), Buffalo, NY-born jam band Aqueous delighted their fans in the Charm City with a relentless, high energy set filled with deep jams throughout and the band’s debut of a Steely Dan cover that rewarded fans staying out late on a weeknight in Federal Hill. After a supporting set by the local experimental prog-rock trio Deaf Scene, Aqueous stretched their legs with an improv-laden set that lasted nearly two hours.

Mike Gantzer (Guitar)

Mike Gantzer (Guitar)

Wasting no time, the band opened with a 20+ minute jam out of their song “Skyway” with guitarist Mike Gantzer leading the way with an effects heavy funk line that brought out outstanding accompaniment on keyboards by guitarist/keyboardist David Loss before transitioning into a spacier rhythmic section by Gantzer. This jam – like many Aqueous explorations – was anchored by bassist Evan McPhaden, holding the band together thematically through a number of sections and changes. Over the course of the set, McPhaden’s ability to be the glue between the four players truly stood out. This jam descends into an almost percussive hard rock territory before returning to the structure of the song and concluding with Gantzer and Loss exchanging guitar licks in an aggressive peak.

Dave Loss (Guitar)

Dave Loss (Guitar)

The band seamlessly segues into “They’re Calling for You,” with its opening guitar lick offering a slight breather, if only for a moment, after an incredible opening jam. Here we get some foreshadowing of what’s to come from the band with a jam on the Steely Dan tune “Fez.” What follows is funky and dark with Gantzer providing screeching distortion and heavy, filtered bass from McPhaden. Aqueous manages to transition perfectly between these songs, landing in the ska-influenced “Median,” an upbeat tune with outstanding guitar harmonies and incredibly fun, fast-paced lyrics in the first verse. Once it enters its jam, after a section of isolated guitar, drummer Rob Houk leans heavily on his snare, taking the band into a lengthy bluegrass-tinged section featuring slide guitar soloing by Gantzer and teases of Jimi Hendrix’s “Third Stone from the Sun.”

Evan McPhaden (Bass)

Evan McPhaden (Bass)

One final segue lands the band in “Don’t Do It,” which provides the improvisational highlight of the set. Dropping immediately into a quiet, jazzy exploration, the band creates a psychedelic palette with heavy synth and excellent drum leads by Houk. The patience on display in this jam is what clearly set it apart in the show, with Gantzer and Loss particularly honed in with one another. Loss switches between synth and organ during the jam, allowing the band to create widely diverse sounds within this 20-minute centerpiece.

Rob Houk (Drum)

Rob Houk (Drum)

After the band takes it first brief stop between songs, Aqueous offered a familiar classic, but a debut for their live catalog, Steely Dan’s “Reelin’ in the Years.” This song lends itself well to Aqueous, with Gantzer’s lead vocals and pitch perfect harmonies from Loss, both vocally and on the guitar. It seemed to energize the crowd as well, as the show neared the midnight hour. Still, the band had time for one more opportunity for extended improvisation with “Weight of the Word.” This time Aqueous moved toward a downtempo, anthemic peak before ramping back up to bring the show to its scorching hot and ferocious conclusion.

Aqueous tour continues with dates throughout the Northeast all through April before they hit the festival circuit this summer. If you haven’t seen them before, do not miss them when they come through your town!

Tour Dates:

Be sure to check Aqueous's Facebook page for upcoming tour dates.

Audio Recordings

Audio Recordings

Audio Recordings


Full audio of the show is available on Archive.org thanks to opsopcopolis.

Performance Date:  2018-03-22

Courtesy Of: opsopcopolis

Setlist

Setlist

Setlist


Click here to see the setlist for Aqueous's performance at The 8x10  on March 22, 2018

Photo Gallery

Photo Gallery

Photo Gallery


Enjoy photos by our photographer Jason Herman of Jason Herman Photography.

Soundboard Recordings

Soundboard Recordings

Soundboards


About the author
Seth Gordon-Lipkin

Seth Gordon-Lipkin

Seth caught the bug of live music after seeing Elton John play the MCI Center at the age of 10 and has been frequenting DC"s concert venues since moving to our nation's capital in 2006. A dedicated fan of the jam band scene, Seth has logged countless miles attending upwards of 70 Phish shows, dozens of Umphrey's McGee shows, and trips to LOCKN' and Peach festivals. Also an activist, you're likely to spot Seth registering voters with Headcount at DC's local music venues.