Words by: Kevin Kaufmann
Images by: Dale Foster
Aqueous :: 11.16.17 :: Lincoln Hall :: Chicago, IL
View Dale’s photo gallery below Kevin’s review.
Aqueous delivered a tight single set at Lincoln Hall in Chicago as part of their 2017 Fall Tour. The show lasted just a tick or two short of two hours but the energy never relented through the spot-on encore rendition of Pink Floyd’s “Shine On You Crazy Diamond.” When Mike Gantzer thanked the crowd for a great night, the feeling was mutual.
The Buffalo quartet got things going with a riveting “Dave’s Song.” The dual guitar work from Gantzer and Dave Loss offered a deep richness as one would lead and the other kept a strong rhythm throughout the extensive jam. When the situation called for it, Loss switched over to keyboards, later coming back strong on guitar. The one person interplay between instruments was a sight to behold the entire night.
One of the highlights of seeing any jam band is watching them segue from one song to the next. Aqueous pulled off a seamless transition from “Dave’s Song” to “Weight Of The World.” The second number slowed things down to a syncopated style, kept steady by bassist Evan McPhaden and drummer Rob Houk. As the groove settled in, McPhaden added more atmospheric sounds from an additional, albeit smaller, keyboard setup of his own to complement Loss’ work.
The meat of the show was the two song suite of “20/20” > “Timmy’s Blades” > “20/20.” The energy of the entire night was never low, but the rocker of “20/20” pushed the room to another level. Instead of using the segue to slow things down, the band launched into “Timmy’s Blades” to keep things cruising at top speeds. All members of the quartet were playing quite well, but Rouk was exceptional during this portion of the night. Not only was his playing tight but his energy was infectious. Perhaps the greatest benefit of a small venue is being able to see all the musicians clearly and gaining a stronger intimacy with the band.
The ska-infused “Warren In The Window” closed things out. And just like that, six songs in total and the set was over. “Warren” included a special guest, guitarist Justin Reckamp from Mungion. It took Reckamp a little while to find the stage, but eventually he sat in on Loss’ side. At first it appeared there would be a three guitar attack in the middle of the “Warren” jam, but Loss peeled off to focus exclusively on keyboards and Reckamp slipped right into the groove. Having a special guest, Gantzer quickly turned over lead guitar duties to Reckamp who kicked the song into another gear.
After an impressive solo from Reckamp, he and the band brought the song back to its foundations and he made a more graceful exit than his delayed entrance. Aqueous brought “Warren In The Window” to a powerful end and exited the stage for a quick breather. “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” was a well-selected choice for the encore. There was a surge of adrenaline from the recognition of the Floyd classic, but the “Shine” ambience took over and brought the night to a satisfying close.
Chicago-based The North 41 was the opening act for the night. The septet powered through a 45-minute set full of soul and funky sounds, including a funked up version of “Enter Sandman” by Metallica.
Setlist (via Aqueousband.com)
Set: Dave’s Song > Weight Of The Word, 20/20 > Timmy’s Blades > 20/20, Warren In The Window 
Encore: Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Parts IV)
 with Justin Reckamp (Mungion) on guitar