Aqueous Emerge With Sold Out Weekend At Lockport, NY Drive-In
Aqueous, the Buffalo, NY based jam quartet, emerged from quarantine over Father’s Day weekend, playing their first ‘audience attended’ live shows since the Covid-19 pandemic abruptly changed the concert landscape as we know it. Adapting to “the new norm” while complying with government mandated safety protocols, Aqueous is the latest band to attempt a socially distant concert experience, choosing the Transit Drive-In in Lockport, NY as a home base for the three day run of outdoor shows.
With essentially every summer festival postponed and entire tours cancelled, it has been months since fans have been able to get their fix of live music. For me specifically, it had been 113 days. Long days. Dark days. Sure, many bands have started streaming sets online and holding virtual festivals, but make no mistake, there is no substitute for live music. So naturally, when it was announced Aqueous was organizing their first Drive-In event, a road trip west was a no brainer.
With safety in mind and a strict adherence to social distancing protocols, tickets for the unique three day event were limited, and as such, sold out almost instantly. Lucky enough to score some for Saturday, we packed our bags, filled up our cars and coolers, grabbed our beach chairs and umbrellas and trucked on up to Buffalo for what would be an unforgettable afternoon of musical magic.
(Photo: Zak Radick)
With Transit Drive-In gates opening at 1pm and an early 2pm start time, fans didn’t have much time to dilly dally. While the front two rows were reserved for VIP, everything else was first come, first serve. Located in Lockport, just a short drive from Buffalo, there was almost a home-coming feel. Seemingly everyone knew everyone, and while it was hard to catch up while maintaining Covid-19 guidelines, it was obvious that this was a celebration. Not just of music and for a band we all love, but a celebration of friends who have been missing each other, who for three months have all been dealing with isolation in very different ways.
Taking the stage at exactly 2pm, Aqueous (Mike Gantzer, Rob Houk, Dave Loss, Evan McFaden) was ready to rock and so were we! Opening the show on this 90 degree day was the appropriately titled “Staring into the Sun.” From there came the optimistic “Good Days,” a new song the band has been showcasing throughout quarantine. After a brief pause to keep hydrated, the music picked back up with the ultra cool, keyboard loop of “Split the Difference,” which seamlessly segued into one of the bands oldest songs, Underlyer. Closing out the first set, Aqueous took the opportunity to debut a new original called “Bring Me Down,” not to be confused with fellow “Buffalonians” and mentors moe. who have a tune called “Bring You Down.” After an alleged noise complaint caused minor issues on day one, the sound on day two was as solid as you could hope for.
(Photo: Zak Radick)
After a very brief 15 minute intermission, the boys casually returned to the stage, calm and collected and giving the audience very little clue that something special was about to go down. Instantly carving out a new chapter in AQ history, diehard fans (Acquaintances) will long remember Day 2 at the Transit Drive-In for it’s tease filled single song second set. Starting off with the familiar chords of “Half In Half Out,” a few minutes in and this baby started growing legs. You could just feel it and see the band was too. Now weaving in and out of the main composition, the band painted a seamless masterpiece, casually slipping in tease after tease which included their own 20/20, “Below the Funk” (Rick James), “Sample in a Jar” (Phish), “YYZ” (Rush), “Echoes” (Pink Floyd), and “Californication” (Red Hot Chili Peppers). Some fans swear there was even a “Fluffhead” nod.
After a jam like that, what could the guys possibly do for an encore? How about busting out a song they haven’t played live in over 9 years. A little Hendrix, anyone? As the opening riff of “Freedom” rang out, the jubilation of those in attendance could be heard over the music. The song had not been played in 858 shows and during this strange time in society, it was a perfect choice for a show closer. The whole afternoon had been something special and exactly what my soul needed. If you were there, you just knew you were lucky to be in the right place, at the right time, with the right people and that no matter what else was happening outside the Drive-In, there was magic happening inside. Live music from incredible musicians, surrounded by great friends, making memories that will last a lifetime.
(Photo: Zak Radick)
Fulfilling a promise to be home for Father’s Day, I was only able to attend Day 2 of Aqueous at the Drive-In, but with enough sunlight left in the day and enough gas left in the tank, I decided to take an impromptu ride over to Niagara Falls to reflect. And as I stood there in awe, contemplating life, feeling small and collecting my thoughts, a rainbow emerged in the mist. Freedom. Maybe this is what it feels like?
Set 1: Below the Funk¹ > They’re Calling For Ya> Numbers and Facts, Little Something to Me, Strange Times ² > Burn it Down ² > Below the Funk
Set 2: Mind Games, Say it Again ³ > Complex Pt. 2, Realize Your Light
Encore: What’s The Connection? ⁴
1 Rick James cover�2 Unfinished
3 G’z and Hustlaz (Snoop Dogg) tease
4 Birds of a Feather (Phish) tease
Set 1: Staring into the Sun ¹, Good Days, Split the Difference ² ³ > Underlyer, Bring Me Down ⁴
Set 2: Half In Half Out ⁵ ⁶ ⁷ ⁸ ⁹ ¹⁰ ¹¹ *
Encore: Freedom ¹¹
1 w/ ending�2 Wedge tease (Phish)�3 So Fresh So Clean (Outkast) tease�4 Original – Debut�5 20/20 tease�6 Below the Funk (Rick James) tease �7 Sample in a Jar (Phish) tease�8 YYZ (Rush) tease�9 Echoes (Pink Floyd) tease�10 Californication (Red Hot Chili Peppers) tease�11 Jimi Hendrix Cover
�* One song set
Set 1: Dig It Good, Josie¹>Second Sight²> Good Enough, The Median
Set 2: Can You Get Me There?, Willy is 40>Loop Jam*>Kitty Chaser
Encore: Freebird³, Complex Pt. I> Second Sight⁴
1 Steely Dan
3 Lynyrd Skynyrd, Partially played as a joke, mostly acapella from Rob
*Band set loops on their instruments and proceeded to drive through the audience on golf carts thanking fans