moe. returned to The Palace Theatre in Albany on Feb. 23 for the first time since New Years Eve 2015 and brought along Buffalo’s Aqueous, giving fans a look at the past, present and future of the New York State jam scene.
Looking to the future of the scene, look no further than Aqueous, one of the success stories coming out of Western New York. The versatile foursome set a standard for touring bands who are just getting their start or waiting for their big break out of the clubs and into the national scene. They kicked off the night shortly after doors and proceeded to give the Albany audience a five-song set. Guitarist Mike Gantzer noted they only had 15 minutes left, and that meant there was time for one more song, and with that dove into the proggy “Triangle,” which had hints of Umphrey’s McGee but still the classic Aqueous tightness throughout.
moe. stepped out with bright lights shining behind creating a silhouette during the accelerating instrumental “Jazz Wank” and instead of the usual “Buster,” “Skrunk” followed and bled into “Down Boy” with Chuck and Rob creating a vocal segue over the end of “Skrunk” with the first verse of lyrics. 15 minutes of a Chuck-led jam later, “Down Boy” moved into a high energy “Tailspin.” The new “I Can Never Remember” was the only breather in a firey first set, with “Blue Jeans Pizza” jumping the tempo back up and giving the crowd chills when Rob hit the high note. The highlight among a packed first set was Mike Gantzer of Aqueous coming out for “Waiting for the Punchline,” with Al taking the lead on the jam before turning Mike loose on the audience who greeted his moment in the spotlight with intense cheers to end the set.
Set 2 began with the Sticks and Stones era “Deep This Time” and “New York City,” followed by a break for tuning that led to Al and Rob riffing on an ‘Albany Song’ made up on the spot. “What Can I Say” was a lighthearted break in the action but from here the jamming went deep. “Hi and Lo” built the foundation for the next hour that built with a Latin-tinged “Montego,” a marvelous “Captain America,” and a 26 minute version of “She” that was at times loose and spacey and somehow found its way into “Happy Hour Hero.” The encore of “Downward Dog” closed the night at nearly 1 in the morning, with one more night in store on Saturday. Tickets are available here.
Aqueous setlist: Aldehyde > Skyway, Strange Times > Marty, Triangle
Set One: Jazz Wank > Skrunk > Down Boy > Tailspin, I Can Never Remember > Blue Jeans Pizza > Waiting For The Punchline*
Set Two: Deep This Time > New York City, Albany Song^, What Can I Say, Hi & Lo > Montego, Captain America > She > Happy Hour Hero
Encore: Downward Facing Dog
* with Mike Gantzer of Aqueous on guitar
^ ‘debut’, made up on spot