Live Review: American Aquarium in Winston-Salem, 10-12-2018

American Aquarium proved that ‘Things Change’ with a near hometown show over the weekend…

American Aquarium lead singer B.J. Barham stepped to the stage backed by his new ensemble for the first time in a while at The Ramkat in Winston-Salem. Having formerly played the venue, then known as Ziggy’s, there have been numerous changes to the event space leaving Barham to comment that, “it was nice having a venue ran by music lovers.”

On the heels of a cancelled show to open the NC State Fair in Raleigh, American Aquarium played a free show at The Pour House on Thursday night. The site of numerous AA shows and album release parties, in addition to being where Barham and his wife wed, it was packed with 300-plus patrons eager to see the band perform.

Despite a disappointing cancellation, the excitement from a show where he now calls home (Raleigh) was carried west to Winston-Salem, just a few miles from Barham’s hometown of Reidsville. At one point in the evening, Barham was sharing the backstory of Crooked and Straight, saying no one knew him when he was a kid – to which one audience member yelled, “I did”.

Barham debuted a Fender electric guitar for the first time at The Pour House and brought the new ride with him to Winston-Salem. Pulling it out for the second song of the evening, Tough Folks, Barham proved that while “things change,” his band, what he plays, the venue – critical constants remain.

Whether in 2012 or 2018, American Aquarium is going to provide a wonderfully entertaining show. Experiencing a roller coaster of emotions from the deeply passionate, hard life lessons, bitter breakups, to a more promising time, the songs represent a sliver of the transformation Barham has taken as an individual over the past decade.

Dedication, determination and an appreciation for his fans – Barham stayed late after his set to shake hands and express his gratitude for those willing to spend their Friday night with him – in addition to seeing a few familiar faces.

One group of patrons even broke into their own rendition of PBR Promenade immediately after American Aquarium left the stage without the song making into their set. Not just the chorus, these guys knew it from start to finish.

Continuing to thrive behind their latest album, Things Change, the first with a new lineup, American Aquarium displayed their ability to connect with an audience and prove their shows are not to be missed – then, now, or ever.

FULL SETLIST 10/12/2018

The World Is On Fire
Tough Folks
Casualties
St. Mary’s
Losing Side of Twenty-Five
Wolves
One Day At A Time
Jacksonville
Crooked + Straight
Betting Man
Lonely Ain’t Easy
Louisiana Beauty Queen
Hurricane
I Hope He Breaks Your Heart
Unfortunate Kind (solo)
Katherine Belle
Rockingham

American Aquarium: Two home dates this week

***UPDATE: Due to the NC State Fair being closed on Thursday, October 11, American Aquarium will play at The Pour House in Raleigh (free admission)***

American Aquarium is set to play the NC State Fair in Raleigh, where lead singer B.J. Barham calls home, and The Ramkat in Winston-Salem on Thursday and Friday – respectively. Barham has always been a proponent of the long leaf pine and his North Carolina roots. Originally flanked by a few North Carolinians in the band, the group has recently undergone a significant lineup shift but continues to press forward, gaining new fans and influencing others with their music on a consistent basis.

Gaining notoriety around North Carolina behind a tireless touring schedule featuring hole in the wall bars and restaurants from Blowing Rock to Statesville, the capital city of Raleigh and even a few homecoming shows pre-Thanksgiving in Reidsville, the band never failed to entertain. No matter the audience size or familiarity, Barham was going to connect with his fans and it’s this persistence that expanded their base, leading to tours across America and internationally with sell outs in tow.

From humble beginnings the band now regularly receives invitations to festivals, including The Music Fest, Medicine Stone and an appearance at Mile 0 Fest next year, in addition to traveling across the pond for another upcoming European tour later this month. Despite their rigorous schedule American Aquarium has also cranked out numerous albums which transcend time and appeal to the current state of Barham and his feelings.

Burn, Flicker, Die was originally intended to be the final album from the group but instead propelled them to even greater heights. Well received by both fans and critics, the album did just the opposite and allowed Barham and his band to continue touring and making a living but it came at a cost. A few years later the entire lineup would announce a shift in focus after their third “Roadtrip to Raleigh” with year four completed under Barham and an entirely new lineup behind him.

The band released another album, Wolves and their next, which was released earlier this year is arguably the best yet. Things Change encompasses the influences surrounding Barham and his band, in addition to the personal aspects of his own life. Since Wolves, Barham has gotten sober, married and welcomed his first child, a daughter, into the world.

Barham is learning to manage both touring and being a father, while also maintaining a strong commitment to his music. The show dates may not come as frequently, but American Aquarium has been and will continue to be on the road plenty, as their impact on the current music scene has been made and people from around the country are continually taking notice.

American Aquarium is destined for great things behind Barham and their latest break will only leave fans wanting more. “Things Change” in every aspect of life, but the ability to adapt and forge a way has been a staple of Barham and his music. Telling personal tales that anyone can relate to and striking a chord among his followers, although changes are in store, the foundation remains.

Catch American Aquarium at one of two upcoming North Carolina dates this week behind a new album, lineup and reinvigorated lead singer.

Upcoming NC Dates:
Thursday, Oct. 11 – The Pour House – Raleigh (free show)
Friday, Oct. 12 – The Ramkat – Winston-Salem – Get tickets HERE

American Aquarium: Rebooted and Ready to Rock

North Carolina’s own American Aquarium is the feature band of our first Music Monday…

American Aquarium was an easy choice for our first Music Monday feature being that the lead singer now calls our state capital home and has always been a proponent of the long leaf pine and his North Carolina roots. Originally flanked by a few North Carolinians in the band, the group has recently undergone a significant lineup shift but continues to press forward, gaining new fans and influencing others with their music on a consistent basis.

Having followed this group for over ten years we have been witness to both highs and lows along their musical journey but one constant remains – an unwavering commitment to the fans. After seeing B.J. Barham open with his band for another act and having their songs stuck in your head the following day, as opposed to the act you originally were there to see, it became quickly apparent that American Aquarium was worthy of following.

They initially gained notoriety around the Carolinas with a tireless touring schedule playing hole in the wall bars and restaurants from Blowing Rock to Statesville, the capital city of Raleigh and even homecoming shows pre-Thanksgiving in Reidsville. No matter the audience size or familiarity, Barham was going to connect with his fans and it is this persistence that expanded their fan base and led to national tours with sell outs in tow.

From humble beginnings the band now regularly visits Texas, has repeatedly played festivals like Steamboat and Medicine Stone, in addition to traveling across the pond for European tours over the past few years. Despite a rigorous tour schedule American Aquarium has also cranked out numerous albums which transcend the timeline and appeal to the current state of Barham and his feelings.

Burn. Flicker. Die. was originally intended to be the final album from the group but instead propelled them to even greater heights. Well received by both fans and critics, the album did just the opposite and allowed Barham and his band to continue touring and making a living but it came at a cost. A few years later the entire lineup would announce a shift in focus after their third “Roadtrip to Raleigh” with year four completed under Barham and an entirely new lineup behind him.

The band released another album, “Wolves” and the next is set to be released later this year and may be the best yet. “Things Change” encompasses the influences surrounding Barham and his band in addition to the personal aspects in his own life. Since Wolves, Barham has gotten sober, married and is soon expecting his first child, a daughter.

While no future tour dates are available on their website, a first in over a decade, to doubt that Barham will not be able to manage both touring and being a father is to underestimate the commitment he has to the music and his craft.

Taking a much needed and well deserved break for the first time that anyone can remember, expect Barham and his revamped band to come back stronger and better than ever. The impact on this genre of music has been made and people from around the country are taking notice.

American Aquarium is destined for great things behind Barham and their latest break will only leave fans wanting more. “Things Change” in every aspect of life, but the ability to adapt and forge a way has been a staple of Barham and his music. Telling personal tales that anyone can relate to and striking a chord among his followers, although changes are in store the foundation remains.

American Aquarium isn’t going anywhere and we can’t wait until they return full force behind a new album, lineup and reinvigorated lead singer.