Aqueous Makes Powerful Alabama Debut On Halloween Night November 01, 2017 16:44

Photos by Craig Baird: Home Team Photography

Words by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen

While there was plenty of hype surrounding Tuesday night's Halloween show with Aqueous and Soul Mechanic at Zydeco, I'm not sure that anyone was quite prepared for what was in store. Being Aqueous' first-ever show in Alabama, many people (myself included) were finally getting a chance to see these guys in person. I can't think of a much better way to be formally introduced to a band of this caliber than an intimate, raging Halloween show. This was a special occasion, to say the least, and both bands certainly planned accordingly with quite a few surprises in store.

Soul Mechanic kicked off the festivities in powerful fashion, to no one's surprise. Ever since catching these guys at CukoRakko Music & Arts Festival earlier this year, I just can't get enough. The Chattanooga-based five-piece takes the concept of experimental funk to another level, and the energy and stage presence they bring is beyond palpable. There aren't too many young bands touring with a world-class viola player, and that's certainly one element that makes Soul Mechanic so unique. The chemistry between Jessica Nunn (viola), William English (guitar), Parrish Gabriel (bass) and Marcus White (keyboards) couldn't be much tighter, and the sky is the limit for these guys. The highlight of the set came in the set closer, when Tommy Bowen (trumpet) and Desmond Sykes (saxophone) of Tragic City joined the band for a killer take on Lettuce's "Breakout." See below for video footage of "America."

Having watched the rapid progression of Aqueous amongst the 'jam ranks' in recent years, I had pretty high expectations for the upcoming set. While this would be my first live AQ experience, I've certainly spent hours watching and listening to the band's well documented online content. As expected with a Halloween set, these guys came out swinging with Metallica's "For Whom The Bell Tolls," the first of six debut covers for the night. This led perfectly into "Origami," which officially turned Zydeco into an all out dance party. A nice transition into "Somebody's Watching Me (Jam)" ultimately led back into "Origami." 

Next up was the band's most recent single, "Weight Of The Word," which you can't miss if you're a regular SiriusXM JamOn listener. "Willy Is 40," the title track from the band's 2012 release, was executed with precision before busting out No Doubt's "Spiderwebs," another debut cover. "Kitty Chaser" was at the top of my wish list for the night, and it was an absolute monster. Guitarist Mike Gantzer then invited Travis Gray of Wild Adriatic on stage to take lead vocals on AC/DC's "Highway To Hell." This smokin' set would ultimately wrap up with "Don't Do It," a tune known for it's extensive jamming, which was absolutely held true on this night.

While the band didn't technically exit the stage, the "encore" was far from average. The entire stretch of four songs fell within "Complex Pt. 1," with debut covers of Cranberries' "Zombie" and Van Halen's "Running With The Devil" sandwiched in between. The seamless transitions here, and throughout the entire evening, were truly next level. It's always a treat when you find a band that is so balanced with talent and precision. Drummer Rob Houk held such a powerful, tight beat throughout the show. Evan McPhaden (bass) didn't miss a beat all night, all while bouncing around on stage in a fantastic 'Tigger' costume.

I was definitely most familiar with Gantzer's well-documented guitar work coming into the show, but Dave Loss (guitar/keys) blew my mind as well. Watching those two trade off scorching solos from across the stage was such a treat. All in all, Aqueous couldn't have had a dialed up a hotter Halloween show, and it's safe to say this will be the first of many Alabama appearances to come. See below for video footage of both Soul Mechanic and Aqueous, complete setlists, and a photo gallery courtesy of Home Team Photography.

Watch Soul Merchanic perform "America" here:;

Watch footage of Aqueous performing "Highway To Hell" with Travis Gray here:

Setlist: Soul Mechanic - Zydeco - Birmingham, AL - 10.31.17

Set: 6 Milli, Frontier, Jack N Coke, 'Merica, Breakout*

*Lettuce cover featuring Tragic CIty horns

Setlist: Aqueous - Zydeco - Birmingham, AL - 10.31.17

Set: For Whom The Bell Tolls*> Origami> 'Somebody's Watching Me' Jam*^> Origami, Weight Of the Word> Willy is 40> Spiderwebs**> Kitty Chaser, Highway to Hell+*, Don't Do It

Encore: Complex Pt. I> Zombie*^^> Complex Pt. I> Running with the Devil*> Complex Pt. I

*First Time Played, Metallica (intro only)

*^First Time Played, Rockwell

**First Time Played, No Doubt

+*First Time Played, AC/DC, featuring Travis Gray from Wild Adriatic on vocals

*^^ First Time Played, Cranberries Jam, included choruses

*First Time Played, Van Halen

Post show crowd shot with Aqueous

Mike Gantzer & Evan McPhaden of Aqueous

Aqueous

Dave Loss of Aqueous

Mike Gantzer, Evan McPhaden, & Rob Houk of Aqueous

Aqueous

Aqueous

Aqueous

Mike Gantzer of Aqueous

Dave Loss of Aqueous

Aqueous

Aqueous feat. Travis Gray of Wild Adriatic

Travis Gray of Wild Adriatic

Soul Mechanic w/ Tragic City horns

William English, Parrish Gabriel, & Marcus White of Soul Mechanic

Jessica Nunn of Soul Mechanic