Aqueous Fans Brave Albany Blizzard for Bittersweet Send-Off  

Emotions ran high over the weekend as Buffalo jam band Aqueous made their final Albany appearance before setting off on indefinite hiatus. Braving snowy weather and treacherous travel conditions, there was no turning back for the plethora of die-hard AQ fans who made their way to The Hollow on Friday, March 3rd with Litz opening the night.

Selling out the venue one last time, Guthrie-Bell Productions has been bringing the acclaimed band to town for many years, however it was their first time back to this room since a memorable pre-Halloween show with Mungion back in 2018.

Aqueous performing for the final time in Albany before going on hiatus; 3/3/2023

Opening the show with about at much gear on stage as The Hollow could handle was high-octane funk rockers LITZ from Frederick, Maryland. Consisting of brothers Austin (vocals, keyboards, saxophone) and Logan Litz (bass) as well as guitarist Pat Shine and drummer Nick Thrasher, the hybrid party band has been around for almost a decade now.

Prior to their set, they expressed gratitude to the guys in Aqueous for the years of friendship and for having them out on this last run. Building momentum with long, trancey EDM-type grooves on songs like “Sunrise” and “New God”, the colorfully dressed Austin would spend the set going back and forth between his stack of keyboards, talk box and a large saxophone that remained anchored to the center of the stage. Trading off huge sax solos with guitarist Pat Shrine, it was bass player Logan Litz who would garner the biggest cheers of the set with his dynamic slap style bass playing and general sense of “cool.”

After working through a “Fifth Element”> “Straight to the Moon” sandwich, LITZ would play one of their most popular songs, “Morning Dew” off their 2016 album Illusion of Time before hitting us with a “Japanese Love Affair.” Perhaps pulling our fingers a bit, things would get a little weird before playing their final song of the set, announcing to the crowd that someone had spilled beer on Shine’s pedal board and that it had shorted out. As is the nature of improv music, LITZ rolled with the punches and somehow managed to bypass the problem and launch directly into their hip-shaking party anthem “Funkin’ Problem” to close out the fun filled opening set.  

Brothers Austin and Logan of LITZ got the crowd fried up early at the Hollow on 3/3/2023.

Packed in like sardines, Aqueous’ most dedicated fans used the set break as an opportunity to push forward and claim a better spot for the main event. Many of these fans have been following the band since their infancy and have organically formed one of the most positive musical communities in the scene. Affectionately known as “AQuaintances,” the hugs were flowing all night long, as anyone “in the know” knew this could perhaps be one of the final shows they’d get to see of their beloved band from Buffalo. If you were an outsider trying to push closer to the stage, forget it. The territoriality here was fierce and it just wasn’t happening.   

All tuned up and ready to rock, the band seemed to be in good spirits from the start. Consisting of Dave Loss and Mike Gantzer on guitars and vocals, Evan McPhaden on bass, and drummer Rob Houk, the guys joked they had each picked a song out and were all going to play it at the same time, hoping to be on the same page. They weren’t, at first, but they quickly settled in nicely on “Dave’s Song.” One of the founding members of the band, Dave Loss had taken much of the previous year off to focus on the birth of his first child. Too integral to simply replace, the band opted to recruit a revolving door of high-profile guests to help round out their sound while fulfilling remaining bookings in the beginning. Dubbing themselves AQ and Friends, it just simply wasn’t the same without Dave. Now back and with just the right touch, the contributions from Loss could be heard immediately.

Dave Loss performing with Aqueous in Albany on 3/3/2023

“Weight of the Word” would be played next before fan favorite and one of the biggest jam vehicles of the night, “Triangle,” landed in the three hole. The 2019 pop/punk singalong “Burn It Down” came next, complete with a heady “Shakedown Street” tease for good measure. Aqueous then segued into one of their most popular songs “Kitty Chaser (Explosions)” to bring the show to it’s halfway point. 

As the snow continued falling outside, things were just starting to heat up inside. After a brief intermission, the guys returned to the stage as Chatty Cathy’s. Drummer Rob Houk was doing most of the talking as he lobbied his bandmates to cover the 1990’s smash hit “Hunger Strike” from the legendary grunge supergroup Temple of the Dog (Chris Cornell and Eddie Vedder). While Houk even began singing it, the rest of the guys pulled a fast one on him going into a tease of Collective Soul’s “December.”

All joking now aside, things got straight up funky as Aqueous then launched into the fan favorite “Mosquito Valley pt 1” which after about 12 minutes, transitioned into the hard charging “Eon Don” in silky smooth segue. During this standout version of the song, one of the most memorable moments of the night came when the band worked in a well-placed Metallica “Enter Sandman” tease before segueing into another homage to one of their biggest influences in Steely Dan’s “Josi.” The uninterrupted frame of music continued on as the band then landed on “Second Sight” which received a huge pop from the Albany crowd.  You can check out fan shot video of that below:

Fan shot footage of Aqueous performing at The Hollow on 3/3/2023

Cooling down for a bit of tuning and some priceless banter, an impromptu cover of “Sweet Home Alabama” emerged, before Gantzer finally pulled the rip cord. What we got next had some fans calling it an “all time” rendition of “They’re Calling For You,“ which went the full distance and would return us back to an “Eon Don” reprise.   

Fan shot footage of Aqueous performing at The Hollow on 3/3/2023

Already approaching 2am and the heavy wet snow now 4 inches deep, the band opted to skip the usual encore theatrics of leaving the stage. Perhaps disagreeing with the song choice, Houk would break the fourth wall a bit, peering out from behind his kit to ask the crowd ‘what’s the most depressing song [they] could play?’ An intriguing question that immediately sparked a dozen different responses, it was here when the ‘beginning of the end’ feeling suddenly became too difficult to ignore.

You see, until this point in the evening, there was never really any acknowledgement by the band that we were closing in on an end of Era, at least not during the show. Instead, they let their music do the talking and chose to send us home with “Realize Your Light,” a song that features some of Dave Loss’ most heartfelt crooning and one of Mike Gantzer’s most emotive and expressive guitar solos.

And we can see where this can go

Around the corner still unknown

And we can see where this will go

In chilling snow, the thrill can still grow

And all the time that slips away

Will come back to you someday

Be anything. Not just anything. Realize your light like a spark in the night

Lyrics from ‘Realize Your Light’

As the pseudo-balled reached its epic conclusion, you could just feel the band digging into it with a different level of purpose. They were making a statement. They were going out on their terms and while still at the top of their game.  No one ever called this ‘goodbye,’ but looking around the room, you could feel the emotion and see it in peoples eyes. Aqueous was their band. Real, hardworking, blue-collar nice guys with a propensity for dank, groovy improv music, who at one time seemed poised for major mainstream success.

Why it didn’t happen for them we may never know, but it certainly wasn’t for lack of talent. Maybe the masses just weren’t ready for this type of greatness? After all, the biggest whale in the sea got that way by never getting caught. Leaving behind a treasure trove of spectacular soundboards to tide us over until the 2.0 era door optimistically opens, we can only consider ourselves lucky to have been a small part of this amazing journey with Aqueous, one of New York’s best and most underappreciated bands.

Up next before hiatus officially begins, Aqueous will head to Erie, Pa for a gig at Kings Rook on March 11th. After a few weeks off, they’ll be in Baltimore on April 7th and Ardmore, PA on April 8th.  The last scheduled Aqueous appearance is set to take place at the Summer Camp Music Festival in late May 2023.

Aqueous | March 3, 2023 | The Hollow | Albany, NY 

Set 1: Dave’s Song¹, Weight of the Word > Triangle¹, Burn It Down² > Kitty Chaser (Explosions) 

Set 2: Mosquito Valley pt 1 > Eon Don³⁴ > Josie⁵ > Second Sight, Sweet Home Alabama⁶, They’re Calling For You > Eon Don 

Encore: Realize Your Light 

1) with ending 
2) Shakedown Street tease 
3) Enter Sandman full band quote 
4) Second Sight tease 
5) Steely Dan 
6) Lynyrd Skynyrd 

LITZ | March 3, 2023 | The Hollow | Albany, NY 

Setlist: Sunrise > New God, Fifth Element > Straight to the Moon > Fifth Element > Kali, Eye of the Pyramid, Morning Dew, Japanese Love Affair, Funkin’ Problem 

Comments are closed.