Road trip. Two words that will instill excitement, desire, and even a wee bit of anxiety in any music lover. This particular trip would involve three people’s weekend journey into the beautiful mountains of Vermont, culminating in an excursion to see two of the Northeast’s finest bands, Buffalo’s Aqueous and NYC’s Turkuaz, playing together at the revered historical jewel of a venue: Nectar’s in Burlington.
Our Friday stop was in the sleepy little town of Manchester, Vermont which is snuggled comfortably in the southeast corner of the state just across the New York border for a two set Aqueous show at The Perfect Wife Restaurant and Tavern.
The Perfect Wife resides on a windy country road and had a packed dinner crowd up until show time, which made for some interesting logistics prepping sound and equipment around families enjoying their dinners. The venue was immaculately clean and featured a friendly accommodating staff, a diverse menu featuring many local products and an excellent selection of draft micro-brews.
Aqueous took the stage a bit after 10pm to a decent crowd with a well executed, if somewhat standard version of “What’s the Connection”. This would be the last of the standard renditions for the night as the rest of this set was pure fire. Top notch versions of “Skyway” and “They’re Calling For Ya” came next, both featuring some especially adventurous improvisation between the composed parts and the start of a “Cissy Strut” tease that would permeate almost every song for the rest of the night. The highlight of the first set was an intense 17 minute version of “Complex” which, despite being a relatively new song, has joined the upper echelons of the band’s most jammed out tunes. The set closed out with a 23 minute combo of Hendrix’s “Bold As Love” into the original “All In”.
The second set started off with an on-the-spot improv jam based on Chic’s “Good Times” which segued into the often paired original duo of “Eon Don” and “Timmy’s Blades”. Manchester got a special treat in this set as it marked the debut of a first time played original “The Village Dog and Pony Show”. The new song was an excellent example of Aqueous’s brilliance at genre-knitting sequences that seem to have no business being in the same song into one seamless composition. Imagine if Rush and Muse had a hot threesome with Umphrey’s McGee’s “Booth Love” and you’ll be somewhere in the ballpark of this songs sound. had a chance to talk with guitarist Mike Gantzer about the story behind this song, and while we can’t reveal the gritty details, the song is written about a person who was too consumed with his own self interests to be courteous to others. Other second set highlights included a very experimental version of the original “Origami” featuring a keys sit-in by Scott Hannay (Mister F, Capital Zen) who was also helping out with sound that night.
The next morning, after a quick breakfast, it was time to head to Burlington. After a fun day enjoying the shops of Burlington and a chili cook off at Nectar’s — with guest judge Jon Fishman of Phish — we were able to witness an absolutely breathtaking sunset as we arrived at the venue a few minutes before Aqueous’s opening set.
Nectar’s is everything a jam fan might imagine: filled with artwork in line with the venue’s rich musical history, well kept and staffed, excellent sound and heady selection of brews with a large local focus.
Like the night before, Aqueous wasted no time getting right into it and delivered another set filled with excellence for the Vermont denizens whom showed up early. Highlights included the opening original “Pictures”, a fun mash-up of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” and Aqueous original “Warren in the Window” and yet another monster “Complex”.
Next up was the mighty Turkuaz, with the ten members lined up on the stage, which made even the ample sized Nectar’s stage look minimal. The entire band came decked out in one piece coveralls, maintaining their fashion statement from the Rochester show the previous night. Despite the ten people on stage, their sound is unbelievably tight and comes across as one unified funk force. Like Sly on steroids, the band flowed effortlessly from song to song with ample improvisation and a large portfolio of well chosen covers including top notch versions of Led Zeppelin’s “Trampled Under Foot” and The Band’s “The Shape I’m In”. Beyond the music, the bands three vocalists all have top quality pipes that add an extra layer of soul to the funk souffle. At this point the venue was packed to the gills. All eyes were on Turkuaz and all feet were moving in unison with the thundering waves of funk. They played late into the night and left the Nectar’s crowd fully satiated. Even if you are not a fan of this genre, Turkuaz is an absolute must see band.
Aqueous setlist: 2013-03-29 Manchester VT
Set 1 What’s the Connection, Skyway, They’re Calling For You[T1], Complex [T1], Triangle[T1], Axis>All In[T2]
Set 2 Good Times Jam[Chic]->Eon Don->Timmy’s Blades->Warren[N1], The Village Dog and Pony Show [N2], Origami[N1,3][T3], Just[N4][T1]>Strange Times, Pictures
Teases: 1 Cissy Strut 2. YYZ 3. Amber  multiple times
Notes: 1. “North Face” lyrical modifications 2. Debut 3. With Scott Hannay [Capital Zen/Mister F] on keys 4. Radiohead cover
Aqueous setlist: 2013-03-30 Burlington VT
Set 1: Pictures>All In[T1], Strange Times, They’re Calling For Ya[T2,3],The Village Dog and Pony Show, Skyway, Bohemian Rhapsody->Warren[T4]->Bohemian Rhapsody>Complex
Teases.1. Pictures 2. Xxplosive [Dr Dre] 3. Next Episode [Dr Dre] 4.Closer to the heart [Rush]
Turkuaz setlist: 2013-03-30 Burlington VT
Set 1: Physical Challenge, Future 86, Bubba Slide, Smarter Than the Speaker, Gremlins, Slippery People, Getting Closer, Trampled Under Foot, Snap Your Fingers, E.Y.E.>XYZ, Desert Island>Coast to Coast, The Shape I’m In, Pickin’ Up, Hold On I’m Comin’, Chatte Lunatique>Club Foot, Beast of Burden, The Harder They Come, Monkey Fingers