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The Aqueous groove

Local band excites Nietzsche’s

Staff Writer

Published: Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Updated: Tuesday, November 6, 2012 16:11


Adrien D’Angelo /// The Spectrum


Tucked away at the back of the bar, the main stage slowly woke up as musicians took their placesand plugged in their instruments. The dance pit was ready to erupt with an energy that had been absent in the early hours of the evening.

Aqueous, a local jam band, rocked Nietzsche’s Saturday night with Connecticut-based band Seed, which opened the show.

At first, only a few curious listeners came near the stage to hear Seed play, but their progressive funk influence soon swept across the entire bar. The crowd progressively thickened and pushed forward to hear the out-of-town band.

Lyrics were scarce, but the music was so intensely invigorating that by the end of the second song, audiences were screaming “OW!” out to the bar’s sticker-filled ceiling. 

What made Seed stand out was their quick change in tempos during and between their songs. These slight changes kept their performance refreshing.

“There are a lot of changes in there, but we like that challenge; we like something that keeps us thinking the whole time,” said Derek Joly, Seed’s 29-year-old saxophonist and synth player.

Members of the crowd enjoyed the progressive band’s musicality. Even those who weren’t fans of their style could attest to their musical prowess.

Mike Gantzer, a 23-year-old Aqueous guitarist, was a guest performer on one of Seed’s songs.

“I love sitting in with other bands,” Gantzer said. “I do it as often as I can because, for me, it’s like every band has a different thing, a different flow, a different way that they communicate with each other. And I like to sort of step into other people’s worlds and see how they do it and get the feel for that. That got me pumped for our show.”

The vibe that Aqueous brought to the bar, not just as musicians but as people, was so vibrant and fresh that the audience came rushing up even before they started playing.

Aqueous, a highly improvisational quartet with a serious sound, can also be seen as a band of goofballs with a nerdy side. Aqueous has a specific Nintendo figurine on stage that they draw inspiration from. The players emulate the persona of their figurines.

“We are avid Nintendo and Super Mario fans. Each one of us has a specific Mario character. That’s who we are when we play,” said Evan McPhaden, 23, bassist of Aqueous and a UB alum.“I’m Yoshi, Mike’s always Mario, Dave’s usually Wario and Nick’s always DK. We’re all stuck in middle school.”

Aqueous played groovy-rock tunes that were diverse and interesting. Their transitions were especially unique as they blatantly but smoothly crossed over from one happy mood to another. Even daylight savings time, which fell in the middle of their set, was powerless over their musical momentum.

Gantzer thought the performance was wonderful because the audience was receptive.

“Sometimes, you might play technically, like really spot on, where everything’s really efficient and played well, but to me, it has got to be the vibe from the audience that’s good,” Gantzer said. “And there were a lot of mistakes and f**k ups and stuff, but that’s all right for me. I’d rather sacrifice that to have a quality, energy-based show.”

Piercen Hicks, a junior engineering major at UB, is a loyal Aqueous fan. He has attended their concerts for a long time and is proud to be their roadie.

Hicks danced most of the duration of Aqueous’ set, shuffling his feet and swinging his elbows. According to Hicks, Aqueous’ biggest message is to have fun and live happily.

“I love the part where you can release your body and just groove to the sound waves,” Hicks said. “And then all you do is take that soul enrichment back to your daily life.”

Much to the dismay of their soundman, Aqueous heeded to their audience’s wish and performed an encore.

“This song is dedicated to [our soundman] Ryan John Nogle, who just informed me through my earpiece that ‘I need to pee,’ so this is to him, the longest song in the world,” Gantzer told the crowd.

Aqueous played the start of Queen’s legendary “Bohemian Rhapsody” into one of their own songs and then finished “Bohemian Rhapsody” in one fluid motion. A few members on the dance floor swayed and raised their lighters while singing along.

Aqueous will play next at Mojo’s Bar in Jamestown, N.Y.



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