One of my favorite bands is returning to Cleveland this week. It’ll be my 21st show, and I hope to add a few more later in this tour (Columbus and Pittsburgh, if I can swing ’em). They’re a truly exceptional group of musicians, and I’ve been following them since 2012. I wrote my second feature on the band yesterday. My first feature was published by the Relix staff in 2014.
I mention this only to harp briefly on a recurring interest of mine: watching young bands develop and evolve both in the studio and onstage. When I came of age as a music listener, my favorite bands — 311, Phish, Deftones, Tool — had already ascended to the highest heights. They kept climbing and growing, sure, but the grassroots chapter of their stories had been written. I’d missed it! And I could never experience, say, a 1994 Phish show in upstate New York. It’s almost heartbreaking to think about that.
But I’ve been from very nearly the beginning of Aqueous’ grand narrative. I can point to the exact areas of development that I’ve seen from 2012 to 2017, and I write about that in this week’s feature. It’s an absolute thrill!
Their new album will come out next year, and guitarist Mike Gantzer told me that 80 to 90 percent of the material has never been heard outside of the band. (The last album, 2014’s Cycles, comprised songs that had already been road-tested, which is a standard move for jam bands.) The band’s latest single, “Weight of the Word,” hints at a nice change in musical direction from their younger days. It bodes well for next year’s growth.
I wrote in the print edition of Scene this week that Aqueous fans would one day look back at 2017 — and the fall tour in particular — as an early high-water mark, a sign of just how completely these guys meant business as manifest destiny awaited.