BIG Something & Aqueous End Colorado Run On A High Note

Advertisement

Words & Images by: Tyler Hypnarowski

BIG Something & Aqueous :: 2.17.19
Cervantes :: Denver, CO

Wrapping up a five-show Colorado run that took them through various mountain towns and featured a show at the famed Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Big Something and Aqueous treated a hearty crowd at Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom to nearly four hours of music on Sunday night. There was a good buzz in the room from the start as two of the jam scene’s seemingly ever-ascending young bands made their returns to Denver.

BIG Something got the action started with their high-octane rocker, “EWI 4000,” giving Casey Cranford and his (E)lectronic (W)ind (I)nstrument center stage to shine. Looking and sounding a bit like the love child of a clarinet and a synthesizer, the EWI is certainly an eye and an ear catcher. The instrument remained integral throughout their set, providing both directional lead as well as accompanying textures amongst the band’s genre-defying sounds.

The six-piece from North Carolina would then immediately switch gears for their next tune, “Sundown Nomad.” The opening track from their 2018 album The Otherside, the song featured those familiar synth-sounding undertones, but would be better characterized by its dub-infused beat and hip-hip verses. Two songs, two unique sounds.

But don’t let this talk of EWIs and hip-hop fool you. Guitarist Jesse Hensley was involved early and often taking solos as the left-handed Nick MacDaniels strummed furiously on his upside Fender à la Jimi Hendrix.

Towards the middle of the set, as the band jammed their way through “Wildfire,” the two guitarists had the crowd in a frenzy as they built the jam up and down a few times on the way to its peak. After playing side by side for nearly a decade now, the pair’s musical chemistry is obviously well nurtured and was entertaining to watch throughout the evening.

Soon after came an extended take on “Truth Serum,” the danceable track from their 2015 album of the same name. The rhythm section of drummer Ben Vinograd and bassist Doug Marshall stood out as they laid down a funky foundation for the rest of the band to groove over. Multi-instrumentalist Josh Kagel would also threw his name into the hat as the song’s MVP, alternating between keyboard wizard and master trumpeter throughout the jam.

Towards the end of the set came the first cover of the night in the form of a rightfully raucous version of “Frankenstein” by The Edgar Winter Group. It’s as if Winter had BIG Something in mind when he wrote the tune, from its instrumentation right down to the high energy needed to play it live. Three songs later the band would end their show with yet another classic rock cover, this time giving their take on Black Sabbath’s heavy metal stoner anthem, “Sweet Leaf.”

I can understand why BIG Something has been playing more and more festivals on bigger stages and even have their own annual festival in The Big What, as their energy is just infectious. But seeing them in a smaller ballroom setting was a nice treat.

By the time Aqueous took the stage, temperatures outside in Denver’s Five Points neighborhood had fallen into the low teens as a fresh coat of snow covered the band’s trailer parked out front. But for guys from Buffalo who are accustomed to thawing out fans with their jams, it was business as usual.

The five-piece caught a groove early with “Kitty Chaser” before moving into “Realize Your Light,” a track from their recently released Color Wheel album. But the highlight from the first part of the set belonged to “Warren In The Window”, one of the band’s best vehicles for explorative jamming. After sitting in a nice pocket groove for about five minutes, guitarist Dave Loss took the reigns with a scorching solo as drummer Rob Houk kept up with him the entire time. It was game on from there.

While a few members of Turkuaz took in the show up in the venue’s balcony, it didn’t take long for one of them to find their way onto the stage. Michelangelo Carubba, a fellow Buffalo native who now resides in Denver, joined the band on drums for a cover of Green Day’s “Welcome To Paradise.” The ’90s hit was played true to form — loud and fast but featured a short and sweet jam during the interlude before the third verse.

Mike Gantzer & Members Of UM Cover Dookie & More
Captured by Zak Radick

The energy didn’t let up as the band then launched into some more deep jamming, notably the build up and segue into “Mice” from “Don’t Do It.” At times taking his hands off his bass to take on some keyboard duties, Evan McPhaden nodded his head in approval as his bandmates exchanged solos throughout the lengthy sequence.

A few songs later would see more guests show up to the stage, as two-thirds of BIG Something lent a hand for the Aqueous debut of Toto’s “Rosanna.” Loss and MacDaniels shared vocal harmonies as it became clear that the musicians were having just as much fun as the fans watching them were. And if this collaboration was any indication of things to come, the rest of the tour should see plenty more special moments and band crossover.

After a quick encore break, Aqueous would return to the stage to sandwich in a jam of Randy Newman’s “Small People” in between “Uncle Phil’s Parachute,” an instrumental tune of their own. Dueling guitars, jazzy keyboard grooves and some tight improvisation — this sequence showcased the best Aqueous has to offer and was a fine way to wrap up a strong night of music in the Mile High City. With bands like Big Something and Aqueous leading the charge in the new generation of jam, the future sure looks bright.

Setlists

BIG Something

Set: EWI 4000 > Sundown Nomad, Passenger > Smoke Signal > Tumbleweed, Truth Serum, Wildfire, Saturday Night Zombie > Frankenstein > Pinky’s Ride, UFO’s Are Real > Sweet Leaf

Aqueous

Set: Kitty Chaser (Explosions), Realize Your Light > Warren in the Window, Welcome to Paradise1, Numbers and Facts, Don’t Do It > Mice > Don’t Do It, Rosanna2 3

Encore: Uncle Phil’s Parachute > Short People4 > Uncle Phil’s Parachute

  • 1 ft Mikey Carrubba of Turkuaz
  • 2 , ft Nick MacDaniels, Jesse Hensley, Josh Kagel, Ben Vinogard, and Casey Cranford of BIG Something
  • 3 Toto cover, Aqueous debut
  • 4 Instrumental

Tour Dates for
Aqueous

  • Apr
    4
    2019
  • Apr
    5
    2019
  • Apr
    6
    2019
  • Apr
    12
    2019
    • Route 7
    • Masontown, WV 26542
    • United States
    May
    16
    2019
    • 4117 Mulberry Mountain Loop
    • Ozark, AR 72949
    • United States
    May
    31
    2019
    • Frontage Rd
    • Haugan, MT 59842
    • United States
    Jun
    7
    2019
    • 4199 Trough Rd
    • Bond, CO 80423
    • United States
    Jun
    27
    2019
  • Jul
    6
    2019
    • 1000 Montage Mountain Rd
    • Scranton, PA 18507
    • United States
    Jul
    18
    2019
    • 830 Jay Peak Road
    • Jay, VT 05859
    • United States
    Jul
    20
    2019
    • 1000 Montage Mountain Rd
    • Scranton, PA 18507
    • United States
    Jul
    25
    2019
    • 100 Sunrise Ranch Rd.
    • Loveland, CO 80538
    • United States
    Aug
    2
    2019

Tour Dates for
Big Something

  • Apr
    12
    2019
    • 265 Park Ave West NW
    • Atlanta, GA 30313
    • United States
    Apr
    20
    2019
    • 171 Reservoir Ave
    • Rochester, NY 14702
    • United States
    May
    12
    2019
    • Amphitheater Drive
    • Wilmington, NC 28401
    • United States
    May
    17
    2019
    • Amphitheater Drive
    • Wilmington, NC 28401
    • United States
    May
    18
    2019
    • 675 Hobson Rd.
    • Axton, VA 24054
    • United States
    May
    24
    2019
    • 1 Concho Road
    • Oak Hill, WV 25901
    • United States
    May
    30
    2019
    • 204 Fairground Rd
    • Quincy, CA 95971
    • United States
    Jul
    4
    2019
    • 500 East Colorado Ave
    • Telluride, CO 81435
    • United States
    Jul
    13
    2019
  • Jul
    14
    2019
  • Jul
    19
    2019
    • 1000 Montage Mountain Rd
    • Scranton, PA 18507
    • United States
    Jul
    25
    2019
    • 1439 Henderson Tanyard Road
    • Pittsboro, NC 27312
    • United States
    Aug
    8
    2019
  • Aug
    29
    2019
  • Aug
    30
    2019
  • Aug
    31
    2019
Advertisement