Here’s a little bit of old school for ya: Aaron Carter was at Toad’s on Wednesday night as part of his “The After Party” tour. Though 10 years too late, Carter’s performance still attracted a big crowd of hormonal teenage girls (and about 10 brave boys).
While the tour name at first appears to be a refreshingly self-aware choice for a ’90s has-been, Carter, 25, performed with such energy and enthusiasm that it seems the aging child star really does want to keep his party going.
Much of the show paid homage to Carter’s boy-band roots, as he and two male backup dancers performed choreographed dance routines that were reminiscent of the Backstreet Boys, ‘N Sync and Aaron Carter heyday. Carter, a veteran of ABC’s popular reality show “Dancing With the Stars,” was an undeniably good dancer, and sometimes almost an acrobat, swinging from the pipes on the ceiling of Toad’s. High school girls throughout the audience swooned as Carter did a backflip onstage and gyrated towards his screaming admirers in the front row — one particularly enthusiastic fan even held up a sign that said “Kiss Me I’m Finally Legal.”
For the average Carter fan (meaning someone whose entire knowledge of his musical oeuvre consists of “That’s How I Beat Shaq,” “I Want Candy” and “Aaron’s Party”), most of his set was unfamiliar, newer music. At one point in the show, Carter asked the audience if they wanted to hear new songs, and despite a strong undercurrent of “No!” he bravely charged ahead anyway. His new tracks, “That’s Life” and “City Lights,” were both generic and forgettable pop songs. Carter knew the emotional heart of the show was in his classics, however, saving “I Want Candy” for the final song of his set and making the audience wait for the encore for a lively rendition of “Aaron’s Party.” Because Carter has a strikingly high voice for a man of his age, hearing a 25-year-old sing about getting grounded by his parents was overall less creepy than was expected.
Now that Carter is all grown up, he isn’t quite as cute as he used to be. He is short and still rocking the ’90s spiked hair, and he wore track pants and a skeezy tank top onstage. Unfortunately, it seems Carter may have peaked at 12.
Carter seems unaware of this. What really stole the show was his, shall we say, appreciation for the ladies. The crowd was almost entirely female, and Carter spent a good deal of his time onstage winking, showing off his abs, blowing kisses and, in some cases, actually kissing the fawning girls in the audience. After multiple reminders that he is “totally single,” Carter called out, “I swear I’m looking for a wife on this tour and I’m going to find her. Would anyone like to marry me?” This announcement was met with a cheer from the crowd and a girl holding up another sign that said, “The Real After Party is in My Bedroom.” Later in the show, Carter picked a girl from the audience and took her backstage, cryptically telling the audience that he needed a “breather.” You connect the dots.
Though Carter’s desperate attempts to be a Casanova deserved pity, his commitment to his show demanded begrudging respect. Instead of giving a lazy performance and relying on the popularity of his old songs to win over the audience, Carter attacked each song and dance routine with such vigor that the sheen of sweat on his face was visible from the back of the club. And it is that energy that has made Aaron’s Party keep bumping for over a decade. Come get it.