Groove rockers Aqueous ended a stellar year with a sold-out show at the Town Ballroom in the band’s hometown of Buffalo. The capacity crowd put a giant exclamation point on an already amazing year for the four-piece. Aqueous treated fans to two sets of music and closed out the night with a tribute to the virtual English pop band Gorillaz. Local Buffalo art post rock outfit Lazlo Hollyfeld opened in support.
The evening marked an historical notch in the band’s musical belt, Aqueous’ headlining debut at the city’s famed venue. The band had opened in support of Vermont jam quartet Twiddle at the venue this past March.
Frontman and guitarist Mike Ganzter told NYS Music that the venue holds “sacred ground” for the band. “Our musical minds were shaped and influenced in that room by watching bands we loved over the past twelve years, and it was literally a childhood dream to perform there, let alone headline a show,” he revealed.
Fans of the band, known as AQuaintences, showed full support with the show being marked a sell out more than 24 hours prior to doors. Gantzer said that it’s the backing of the band’s fans that has been crucial to bringing the band to this milestone.
“Really, it’s everything to us; it’s a driving force, a constant motivation to push our boundaries, and having their love and support is something we take seriously and try to bring justice to,” he noted. “Music is such a powerful, transformative thing, and we’ve witnessed some true joy and healing from our vantage point on stage over the years. Our fans are so encouraging, enthusiastic, and fun to play for. We’re here because of them, and we respect that an awful lot.”
Fans poured into the Ballroom ready to celebrate on the heels of the Buffalo Bills’ first playoff berth since 1999, ending the longest post season drought by any team in professional sports history. In honor of the historical evening, the band took to the stage as the Isley Brother’s “Shout”, the Bills seminal theme song, incited the energy into a frenzy. Aqueous then kicked off the night with the fan favorite “Origami.”
AQ has spent the better part of 2017 delighting crowds across the country with 20-minute plus openers, extended jams and pristine improvisation. Their return to Buffalo showcased the last four months of Aqueous’ “on the road” antics as the band spent their first set exploring just four songs, much to the crowd’s delight.
Set two featured a mix of Aqueous originals as well as the music of Gorillaz. While the jams were shortened in set two, Aqueous brought high energy into the new year. The band took to the stage shortly before midnight with Gorillaz’ “M1A1.” The music flowed seamlessly as they segued in and out of their original tune “Warren in the Window” and then into the Gorillaz classic “Clint Eastwood” featuring Buffalo rapper and famed wordsmith Dr. Ooo.
The band and crowd rang in the new year in traditional celebratory fashion. As the crowd counted down to midnight, two thousand gold, silver and white balloons rained down from the Town Ballroom’s ceiling while the band played “Auld Lange Syne.” Three giant blue inflated whales, a nod to the band’s logo, were released into the packed crowd just as the band cranked up the energy with another fan favorite, “Don’t Do It.”
Aqueous continued to weave in and out of their own original music and several selections from the Gorillaz catalog for the remainder of the evening. Screens to the side of the venue’s stage showcased Gorillaz’ animated artwork throughout the night. The evening’s silent MVP was the band’s sound and light designer Ryan Bress who has continued to add to the Aqueous live show with thoughtful and seamless light displays that perfectly compliment the band’s stage show. AQ ended set two with their powerhouse classic “Kitty Chaser.”
As Aqueous returned to the stage, the crowd erupted into a “Let’s go, Buffalo” chant while the band concluded the night with a two song Gorillaz encore of “Empire Ants” and “Feel Good Inc.”
Aqueous will take a much needed and well deserved break for the majority of January. The year ahead is already looking to capitalize on the band’s momentum. Aqueous will launch into 2018 with their Jam Cruise debut at the end of the month. The band has recently announced dates in support of both moe. and Papadosio that have them back on the road this February and March. Gantzer also revealed that the band has a new album slated for release sometime in 2018, although no release date has yet been officiallly announced.
Gantzer summed up the band’s outlook on the new year by noting, “There’s so much on the horizon for 2018, it’s gonna be a good one!”
Aqueous – Town Ballroom, Buffalo NY – 12/31/2017
Set 1: Origami, Second Sight*, Dave’s Song**> The Median^
Set 2: M1A1+> Warren In The Window> Clint Eastwood+%> Dr. Ooo Improv I%> Auld Lang Syne> Don’t Do It> D.A.R.E+> Aldehyde, Last Living Souls+> Glitter Freeze+> Kitty Chaser (Explosions)> Tomorrow Comes Today+> Kitty Chaser (Explosions)
Encore: Empire Ants+> Feel Good Inc.+%> Dr. Ooo Improv II%> Feel Good Inc.
*Let’s Go Buffalo Chant
**Little Drummer Boy teases
^Dirty Harry (Gorillaz) teases
+First time played, Gorillaz
%Featuring Dr. Ooo