Review: Aaron Carter

The Shelter, Detroit 2017.06.08

So, first off, this show got moved to the shelter, which for most bands isn’t great news. But something about Aaron Carter fits here so well. Maybe its an underground thing. But I’m sure glad it happened! I think people forget that smaller venues can give you something great- eye contact, good vibes, high fives.

There was a facebook poll from St. Andrews that asked for which local talent the crowd would want to see open for Aaron. Much like our government, and Quizzo’s recent IBQ opinions, the poll didn’t matter because they did their own thing anyhow. The opener was a hip looking lumberjack guy named Achromatik. He spits pretty fast and his first song had a point and he sometimes had some good things to say like “If you don’t stand for a solution then sit the fuck down.” But then I instantly turned into Lane Kim’s mom on Gilmore Girls because every other word out of his mouth after that was a swear and I kept thinking how Prince sold millions of albums without swearing once. I bet the stories Achromatik was trying to tell as he sang along to his own recordings would have been better propelled with actual words instead of “fuckin” everything like he forgot his own words. It was all too much. And if I got told one more time to “shut the fuck up” in “Detroit, Michigan” (just say Detroit, seriously) I was going to rampage. He seemed like a real humble guy who is thankful and loving (sing about THAT), I think his parents were there, which is way rad, but all together, Pete, make your words mean something. As it stands they seemingly mean nothing to us in the crowd. Don’t just swear at us and expect us to care. Nobody really did, we just wanted to show to keep going so that it could end. Stop telling us to STFU. And stop talking like a frat boy at a keg on stage. Know how to read your crowd- if they’re just standing there watching with slack jaws because they can’t understand the words coming out of your mouth or why you’re saying them, then change it up. Don’t ask people to raise their hand if they’re “tryin to get some” tonight, or any night- especially with your parents watching. That’s below you, plus it’s rude af, plus- no. Have respect for yourself and for us. Grow up and away from that. You’re not 19, I think. After two songs I was done. The techno parts were kind of good, interesting but it mostly just became a who’s who on stage because Achromatik kept asking his parade of friends to come on stage to rap with him. He was difficult to understand a lot of the time, even singing to his own tracks or just talking to us. It was all mushy. We needed subtitles. Make a PowerPoint with lyrics and photos of your guest stars so that we can follow along. Next slide, please.

Aaron Carter came out in a grand entrance. He set up with his long-time drummer Petey (dope hat, Petey), introducing him from off stage before starting to sing “Fool’s Gold” while walking on. He definitely has some of that old Aaron that I remember from all of our youths. He had his own musical tool kit on stage, as well; percussion, keys and synth with his laptop. He started out strong and smiling the whole time. This guy, he loves what he does. His song “Let me let you go” was dynamic, and I daresay Aaron’s falsetto is better than Justin Timberlake’s- much less nasal. Spot on. Not a sour note was hit in this song, and it really showed off how beautiful a singer he really is. “Dearly Departed” was next. He spoke about making his own beats and how this one was tropical infused. A fan jumped on stage during it, acted like he was just trying to get out of the crowd the easy way and the guard let him, but then turned around on stage and started dancing and shaking everything his mama gave him, and then AC actually shared the mic with him to finish out the chorus with laughter. It was zaney and fun, and showed that not only is Aaron a gracious host on stage, but that we all deserve a little fun. Well done, sir.

“Back to good” was musically great. A real crowd pleaser when he jumped on percussion alongside the track and started going to absolute town with the beats. Petey was getting real dramatic with his position on drums, and the song itself reminded me of R. Kelly back when R. Kelly was good and soulful and not weird. After that Aaron brought down the lights for a moment to talk about losing his dad a few weeks previous. Now, this hit me right in the feels. I knew Bob had passed maybe the next day, and I was sad for the Carter Clan. Losing my mom, I know how it feels to be shocked in that way. So already I was ready to sob. But then he spoke about how proud he was of his dad and how they were close, and how when he passed he wrote the song “Champion” because it was all he could do to cope. It was masterful. It opened with his dad’s last voicemail to him (which seriously, that’s amazing and difficult. He also worked in the voices of his sisters, Angel and BJ, saying ‘I love you, dad’, which also killed me. I didn’t think I could make it through the song because I was choked up after the voicemail, but rest ye, I made it! Aaron did, too! We did it together! It’s a work of genius, especially for anyone that’s lost a parent or sibling. Aaron can still reach those difficult high notes, and his love for creation was the showstopper here. Your dad hears you, Aaron. He loves you. It may forever be the hardest song for you to perform, but I’m glad you said you’ll never stop. You’re helping others cope with this one. I can’t wait for it to be recorded. You live on, Bob and Leslie. (and my mom, Debbie)

His song “Do You Remember” was very Carter-esque, if you’ll allow it. Very much reminiscent of Nick’s first solo album Now or Never back in 2002. Their voices are similar as it is- poppy but heartfelt. Harmonic. Beautiful. He also threw in a medley that I think stunned a lot of people. The drunk mom in front of me loved it something fierce. She ruled! (Hi, Canadians! Hope you got your bus safely!) It started out with a chunk of Bruno Mars’ ‘24K Magic’, which Aaron started off by saying he hopes he can hit the notes. He did. Good homage. It then turned into ‘That’s What I Like’ so smoothly that I had to run through my Bruno Mars rolodex to make sure it wasn’t just a different part of the same song. From there he had girls swooning when he sang Depeche Mode’s ‘Lucky’. Now, not only can I not stand Depeche Mode, but that specific song, when played on the radio, gives me an almost violent rage for no reason other than pure unadulterated hatred. But this version, with actual singing and about 150 thousand “up all night to get luckys” cut out was much easier to hear. There was your typical body grooving hip action so that even the youngsters who didn’t know the band or song still had something to scream about. He still had a few oldies but goodies waiting for us in the form of “How I Beat Shaq” and “Aaron’s party”. Oh man, when I say the entire room, probably even the bartenders, lost their collective shit when these songs were going, I mean that. Shit. Was. Jamming. We all forgot who we were now and were transported back to 2001 having a great time. I loved that even though these songs were obviously cheesy and written for a little boy, he loved every unabashed minute of it just as much as we did. He then went into his rendition of “I Want Candy” that was more fun than anything Lizzie McGuire had to offer. It had excellent snare drum and was a splendid mix of old and new the way he added his own twists to it. “Sooner or Later”, off of his self-released EP “Love” is actually really great. This song reminds me of fall. It’s a good end of summer jam, something that sticks with you like the end of summer love, the end of comfort and sunlight, the hope that it will return sooner than later. It’s that important post-glory step before winter, before things get dark, when people feel emotionally the most vulnerable. That’s what this song is.

He really shows his emotions, which I think it great for a performer who also happens to be a human being. “If I didn’t have you fans nobody would have brought me back. Nobody would have listened. Good thing I threw a damn good party when I was 12!!” He gives credit where it’s due, which I think is rare these days. His final messages were to love your family and keep things close. You don’t know what can change. Then he stage dove and the crowd converged. Suddenly I was at least 2 feet from where I was just standing and the security guy looked so pissed. Or that’s just his security guard face. All in all, I had a blast. Not a blast reliving my teenage years either, but a blast as a 33 year old going to a concert by herself because nobody else took it seriously (fuck em). People mocked me and the show in general all week but honestly it was a really great show. Despite him playing a few old tunes, Aaron Carter is definitely not the same punk kid as before. He’s 29 and sexual, loving and seriously down to earth. He looked like he was having genuine fun with us, not like it’s just his job to be there. He was engaging and silly, honest and it was really, really worth coming to. I hope with the release of his new album from Sony Records that he visits Detroit again and we can meet for more than a moment. Something to look forward to.