There was nary a stone unturned when the two-set, three-hour concert that Aqueous presented at Flour City Station in Rochester was through. New songs were revealed, old songs were unearthed anew, peaks were reached and valleys were navigated.
A meandering slide-guitar-led intro, that sounded straight from the foothills of the Himalayas, acted as a Siren’s song drawing the dispersed crowd in toward the stage. As the fans drew near, the band launched into their fresh off the not-yet-pressed tune “Calling Out” — a sexy groover featuring ample Moog and wah. The journey started here, but the climb rose to a rocking plateau before falling into a delicate and beautiful space which built to yet another boisterous jam that reached into heavy metal territory.
And so it went for much of the night. Up and down and back around, musical explorations emerged from every corner. At times guitarist Mike Gantzer would act as the sherpa with nods, winks, hand motions or vocalized directions, leading the band together as a unified team. Other moments, the foursome (Gantzer, Dave Loss on keys and guitar, Evan McPhaden on bass, and newcomer Tom Vayo in only his fifth show on drums) seemed to find each other without prompting, a tight knit unit creating their own way.
A slowed-tempo cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Dancing Days,” an Aqueous debut, drifted into a wild Middle-Eastern metal mash. While that would serve as the only cover of the night, the band played it fast and loose with the teases. “King For a Day” was preceded by Jimi Hendrix teases and finished with the band noodling around with the Jurassic Park theme. The massive “All In” featured a short jam on The Beatles’ “Come Together” and a tease of Collective Soul’s “Shine.” Teases aside, this first-set closer was one of the night’s highlights.
It was more of the same in the second set, with Dr. Dre’s “Xxplosive” showing up in Underlyer, followed by multiple Deep Purple references in “Don’t Do It.” Tony G, from opener Funknut, would lend a hand on keys for a short stint on “Don’t Do It.” The entire rest of the set was highlight worthy material, as the band took their complete “Complex” suite for a ride for the first time ever on stage. It featured more nooks and crannies than a Thomas’ English Muffin and the butter dripped deliciously into every one of them. The fun reggae groove of “Warren in the Window” was chiseled into a raging rock anthem to close out the set.
It was only appropriate that the encore would begin with another tease, this time Joe Walsh’s “Life’s Been Good” was the victim. There was time for one more “short one” so they launched into a near 20 minute version of “20/20” of course. Aqueous quit exploring as the clock struck 2am though it seemed like if the law would have allowed it, the band would have trekked onward indefinitely.
SET 1: Calling Out > Kitty Chaser (Explosions), Dancing Days* > King for a Day, Random Company+ > All In
SET 2: Underlyer > Don’t Do It^, Complex Pt. I > Wandering% > Complex Pt. II > Warren in the Window
* Led Zeppelin, Debut
+ LTP 11/14/2014 82 shows
^ with Tony G on keys (Giant Panda/Funknut)