October 31, 2014

11 is a Crowd: Aaron Carter at the Haunt

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Aaron Carter had no opening act, so after a 40-minute wait and audible complaints from the audience — all girls under 25, except for one middle-aged man — the concert began with one of his new songs, which was catchy yet forgettable. He followed it with a similar song that very few people seemed to recognize, but then jumped into the “throwbacks.” Although the experience of watching a former child star dance with scantily-clad women and take a shot onstage can be rather odd, Aaron Carter made sure to incorporate his well-known older songs as well as his new work so as not to alienate those who know him for “I Want Candy” and that excellent episode of Lizzie McGuire.

He handed the mike to audience members during “I Want Candy,” and the small crowd was very enthusiastic, with everyone singing along. Hearing him perform “Aaron’s Party,” a rap that came out when he was 12 years old, felt odd since he most likely is no longer worrying about kids spilling juice on his mom’s new couch cushion, but he was tongue-in-cheek without hindering his performance. These songs certainly took the young female audience back to their middle school years without the painful awkwardness, and it was a nauseating and nostalgic experience.

The dancers left the stage when he performed his older songs, which seemed like a smart move, as “I Want Candy” would have been pretty disturbing if it were performed sensually. The fairly even balance between old and new songs was wise, as it allowed us all to reminisce and sing the songs we knew him for, but also showed that his style has evolved over time and that he is still doing new work. Carter seems like he is neither stuck in the past nor trying too hard to shed his old image, but the difference between his new work and his old made the concert feel a bit disjointed and the transitions were sudden.

Carter is certainly a showman and his vocals were fairly solid, but some factors made this concert much less enjoyable than it could have been. Starting 40 minutes late may have been acceptable had the concert lasted more than, according to a girl I spoke to who had timed it, 34 minutes. It was rather absurd that paying audience members spent more time waiting for the concert to begin than Carter spent performing. Regardless of what made him late, the brevity of the performance was not well received, particularly by the super fans who felt they deserved a bit more.

Although Carter could certainly have given more time to the audience, he was very interactive and maintained a high level of energy even though the crowd was tiny. His D.J., who was very friendly and was something of a highlight of the show despite his small role, jokingly thanked the “11 people in Ithaca” who came to the concert. One girl corrected him, yelling that there were, in fact, 18 audience members. Having a showing smaller than that of the average Cornell a cappella arch sing cannot be very encouraging, but Carter showed absolutely no signs of disappointment. He made eye contact with everyone (myself included, which I want to tell 12-year-old me about) and pointed at and sang to each of us. Carter took advantage of the small size of the audience to make his performance a bit more personal for everyone there, and that seemed to be appreciated all around. However, the low attendance may have led him to shorten his set list and to rush through without talking much between songs, which were the only truly disappointing things about the concert.