Looking to build on last week’s excellent “love” themed show, Aqueous returned for their third of four residency shows at Nietzsche’s in Buffalo and decided to bring the weird. The theme was “Willy Wonka,” and the cult classic “Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” would set the vibe for the night. A big crowd assembled early to check out Ohio-based Broccoli Samurai (you can imagine the cool merchandise) and their jamtronica style. More samurai than broccoli, most of the set was well-received and the high octane beats certainly injected some energy into the crowd.
With a screen behind the band showing clips from the movie and Aqueous dressed in awesome Willy Wonka costumes, you could tell they were serious about the night’s theme. Mike Gantzer (guitar, vocals) was dressed as an oompa-loompa, Dave Loss (guitar, vocals, keys) as Willy Wonka, Evan McPhaden (bass) as Charlie Bucket, and Nick Sonricker (drums) as Mike Teavea. The band looked the part and immediately brought the crowd to the fantasy world of Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.
Starting the set with a pumped up version of “The Candy Man”, the band then moved to the old composed favorite “Willy is 40.” A funky intro gave this version some life. As it got going, Aqueous slid into “Oompa Loompa Song” before finishing “Willy is 40” with an extended outro section that featured a bit of welcomed improv. Don’t worry, even if you hate “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” or have no idea what it is, the next section was all about the music.
Two Aqueous-penned songs, “Strange Times” and “Uncle Phil’s Parachute” would provide the first foray into major improv of the night. “Strange Times” found a big, slowed-down funky groove that had the audience prepping for Lettuce, who were playing at the Tralf that upcoming Friday night. Although the perfectly named song fit the theme of the night, this “Strange Times” was not strange at all. This was a funky, beautiful, creative journey; one of the best versions of the song to date. “Uncle Phil’s” would have the difficult challenge of following up and would deliver with authority. The super slow intro provided an ideal landing spot for the madness created during the “Strange Times.” This “Uncle Phil’s” jam would once again slow down and find a serious dance groove. Nick Sonricker would lead them from this excellent groove, spitting fire from his drum sticks into a “Pure Imagination” themed jam. This beat prompted pure guitar bliss, then got weird and finally finished with a full blown version of “Pure Imagination.”
“King for a Day” would be thrown a wrench as a girl from the crowd jumped up on stage whipping her hair around. Aqueous quickly jumped into Hendrix’s “Foxy Lady” while clearly laughing and enjoying the fun. The musicianship of the band was on full display as they moved in and out of “Foxy Lady” like it was an actual part of “King for a Day.”
An interesting “Triangle” took place when Broccoli Samurai guitarist, John McCaron joined and allowed Dave Loss to strictly play the keyboards during the Aqueous favorite. Adding the keyboard sounds to “Triangle” provided extra texture to the jam and McCaron carved out some beautiful solos.
Some more Wonka creativity would intermix with Aqueous originals “What’s the Connection” and “Mosquito Valley Part I” finishing up the set. “Oompa Loompa Song” would return once more for the encore followed by the rare “Dr. Brox” and the finished ending of “Uncle Phil’s.”
“Willy Wonka” night resulted in another fantastic show at Nietzsche’s for Aqueous’ residency, and yielded the biggest crowd yet. 250+ people were treated to a night of craziness and some serious improv for an extremely talented up-and-coming band.
The last of Aqueous’ four residency shows at Nietzsche’s is this Wednesday, February 26th with special guest, Big Something and will feature a “mystery artist” theme. For the final theme, all cover songs will be from one artist and Aqueous will blend in their own material. Aqueous had vowed to not play any repeats over the four weeks so with fan favorites “Warren in the Window,” “Complex,” and the awesome new “Staring into the Sun” left to be played, the last show of this residency shapes up to be a monster.
Setlist: The Candy Man>Willy is 40>Oompa Loompa Song>Willy is 40, Strange Times>Uncle Phil’s Parachute>Pure Imagination, King For a Day*, Triangle**>Oompa Loompa Song>What’s the Connection?>Mosquito Valley Part I>What’s the Connection
Encore: Oompa Loompa Song>Dr. Brox>Uncle Phil’s Parachute
*Foxy Lady teases
** The Median tease