Aaron Carter's Party Never Stopped @ LA's The Mint

By Jessica Klausing

Aaron Carter performs “Fool’s Gold” at The Mint. Photo by Jessica Klausing.

Aaron Carter performs “Fool’s Gold” at The Mint. Photo by Jessica Klausing.

Admit it, you so wanted to join Aaron’s Party.

Aaron Carter was the “flyest kid on the block” in the early 2000s with his teen party anthem, “Aaron’s Party (Come Get It).” He wooed teenage girls worldwide with “I Want Candy” and rapped about winning a basketball game against Shaquille O’ Neal in “That’s How I Beat Shaq.” Flash forward to 2019, Carter is back with new music and a more mature image. He proved at Los Angeles’ The Mint that Aaron’s Party never stopped!

Carter kicked off the set with “Fool’s Gold,” a hit from his most recent album release, LøVë. The track blends electronic dance music (EDM) styles with pop. This electronic opener had everyone singing the chorus, “Look at you falling/Do you even know what you’re falling for?/Cause I see you falling/You traded my heart for some fool’s gold.”

Aaron Carter photo by Jessica Klausing.

Aaron Carter photo by Jessica Klausing.

“Bad 2 Good” and “Dearly Departed” dazzled fans with more slick, exuberant synths. Everyone was on their feet dancing the night away. Carter seemed to be having the time of his life as well. The blond singer was all smiles as he stepped away from his keyboard to bust a few smooth dance moves. Just as things were starting to heat up, a few minor screeching speaker issues threatened to delay the fun.

“Bro, I promise I’ll buy you new speakers if they blow,” Carter assured the venue’s sound guy from onstage.

Thankfully, no speakers blew out and the night went on as scheduled. Carter continued to serenade more reflective heartbreak anthems off his LøVë album. On “Seattle TideZ,” Carter compares a troubled relationship to the Seattle weather with, “This love can’t keep me waiting/This love is far from faded/I see this jaded situation through these sheets of rain and you always keep me waiting.”

Aaron Carter prepares for the next song. Photo by Jessica Klausing.

Aaron Carter prepares for the next song. Photo by Jessica Klausing.

“Champion” was the most emotional song of the night. The song was written to honor Carter’s father, who passed away from a heart attack in 2017. His father’s last voice mail was played before the song.

Not wanting to end on a sad note, Carter promised a song to take us all back. Of course, the venue went ballistic with frantic chants for “Aaron’s Party!”

“No, not yet. But it’s coming! Don’t worry!” Carter assured the room.

“This is a song that was written 60 years ago and it goes a little something like this,” Carter said as he launched right into “I Want Candy,” his other hit from the 2000s. Needless to say, the fans were not disappointed with this particular song choice!

Aaron rocks out to “Aaron’s Party (Come Get It).” Photo by Jessica Klausing.

Aaron rocks out to “Aaron’s Party (Come Get It).” Photo by Jessica Klausing.

Nothing compared to the hype from “Aaron’s Party (Come Get it)” though. Fans literally screamed out the lyrics word for word, almost overpowering Carter’s vocals at times. Carter had a few tricks up his sleeve as he remixed his traditional pop track to incorporate a trap beat.

The night ended with Carter lending his honey sweet vocals on “Sooner or Later.” Fans hollered for an encore, which he was more than happy to oblige. He returned onstage for another remix of “Fool’s Gold” ending the night on a dance party high.

If you come to an Aaron Carter concert expecting to hear his old childhood hits, then you’ll be sourly disappointed. You may get a nostalgic throwback or two but Aaron has made it clear in interviews that he wants to move on with his music career. His new music is comprised of eclectic trap EDM remixes with honest lyrics reflecting past failed relationships and loss. Aaron Carter may have matured but his newer catchy tunes can still pack a dance floor!

SETLIST:
Fool’s Gold
Bad 2 Good
Dearly Departed
Almost There
Don’t Say Goodbye
Same Way
Seattle TideZ
Champion
Let Me Let You Go
I Want Candy (remix)
Hard to LøVë
What Did You Want to Say?
Aaron’s Party (Come Get It)
Sooner Or Later

ENCORE:
Fool’s Gold

CONCERT REVIEW: Umphrey's McGee Blows Minds @ LA's Wiltern

Written by Jessica Klausing

Umphrey's McGee photo by Paul Citone.

Umphrey's McGee photo by Paul Citone.

Umphrey’s McGee entranced the Los Angeles’ Wiltern theater for two, high energy-packed sets.

Amidst the hypnotic psychedelic light show and LED visuals, Umphrey’s McGee seamlessly weaves progressive rock, jazz, disco, funk, metal, and electronic genres into a cohesive dance mix. Each band member has a keen musical ear and an uncanny talent to communicate with each other on stage.

If you’re not familiar with these technically adept musicians then you might be a bit overwhelmed. At any given minute, the band may take a blues ballad and feverishly drive it into a tripped out psychedelic groove. Their classic hits are consistently being re-worked into a whole new sound.

The die-hard UM fans or “Umphreaks” will proudly express how each show is a completely different mind-blowing experience. Umphrey’s is known for their extended complex instrumental jams and abruptly switching songs mid way only to be re-visited later on in the set.  

Organ Freeman photo by Paul Citone.

Organ Freeman photo by Paul Citone.

The opener, Organ Freeman heated up the night with some organ centered instrumental jams. Rob Humphreys (drums), Trevor Steer (organ, key bass), and Erik Carlson (guitar) manage to intricate a funky aesthetic into their peppy soulful grooves. The trio had everyone up and swaying to the beat.

Umphrey’s came out next and launched right into the rock heavy hitter, “Dark Brush,” followed by the funkier “Bad Friday.” The first set comprised mostly of progressive rock melodies with Brendan Bayliss (guitar, vocals) and Jake Cinninger (guitar, vocals) alternating vocals between hard shredding electric riffs and bluesy stripped down rhythms.

Jefferson Waful (Umphrey's McGee Lighting Designer). Photo by Paul Citone.

Jefferson Waful (Umphrey's McGee Lighting Designer). Photo by Paul Citone.

After a twenty minute intermission, Umphrey’s returned with a more electronic trance fused second set, forcing everyone back up on their feet for “Wappy Sprayberry.” “The Floor” followed with Kris Myers (drums, vocals) and Andy Farag (percussion) flawlessly interweaving powerful percussions within the dreamy arrangements.

Without warning, Ryan Stasik (bass) rips us back in to the rock n’ roll endeavor “JaJunk.” Before closing out the set, Umphrey’s treated fans to a transcendental rendition of the Talking Heads’ “Once in a Lifetime.” The performance left many excited whispers exchanged throughout the venue.

From left to right: Ryan Stasik (bass), Brendan Bayliss (guitar, vocals), and Jake Cinninger (guitar, vocals). Photo by Paul Citone.

From left to right: Ryan Stasik (bass), Brendan Bayliss (guitar, vocals), and Jake Cinninger (guitar, vocals). Photo by Paul Citone.

Umphrey’s McGee continues to astound with their precise technically crafted musicianship, their vast variety in sound over their discography and their ability to create sophisticated and fun-loving tracks to just dance to and enjoy. If you’re looking for a band that challenges the multi genre scope, Umphrey’s McGee is well worth the listen!

SETLIST

Set I:

Dark Brush

Bad Friday

Bridgeless

Example 1

Rocker Part 2

Draconian

Bridgeless

 Set II:

Wappy Sprayberry

The Floor

Booth Love

JaJunk

Once in a Lifetime (Talking Heads cover)

Maybe Someday

ENCORE:

Haji

The Silent Type

CONCERT REVIEW: Backstreet Boys: Larger Than Life @The AXIS in Las Vegas

Written by Jessica Klausing

Backstreet Boys (from left: Kevin Richardson, Howie Dorough, AJ McLean (behind Howie), Nick Carter, and Brian Littrell photo by Jessica Klausing.

Backstreet Boys (from left: Kevin Richardson, Howie Dorough, AJ McLean (behind Howie), Nick Carter, and Brian Littrell photo by Jessica Klausing.

24 years later, Backstreet Boys have still got it goin’ on.

With over 130 million records sold worldwide, it’s only evident that the best selling boy band have a Las Vegas residency.  Over 4,000 fans packed into Planet Hollywood’s AXIS Theater on Saturday for a thrilling 90 minute trip down memory lane.

The nostalgia began with a 10 minute Backstreet Boys music video montage. Remixed video snippets chronicled through their 24 years and still going strong career. Every video from the classic, “We’ve Got it Goin’ On” to the most recent “Show ‘Em What You’re Made Of” flashed upon five large TV monitors. Fans squealed with glee—for the first five minutes. The montage did feel like it would go on forever. Many fans started to voice out their frustration quickly. Finally the curtain was drawn for our boys!

Brian Littrell and AJ McLean perform. Photo by Jessica Klausing.

Brian Littrell and AJ McLean perform. Photo by Jessica Klausing.

At 09:20PM, Kevin Richardson, AJ McLean, Howie Dorough, Brian Littrell, and Nick Carter, dressed in their Millennium album-esque white suits, floated down onto the stage from large boxes inside the AXIS and belted right into “Larger Than Life.”

It was like 1999 never ended.

The boys, who might I add, are still as dreamy as ever, flawlessly hit their vocal ranges without missing a dance step. Each Backstreet still lives up to their classic boy band persona: AJ the Bad Boy with his sunglasses on, Brian the Jokester with his silly faces, Nick the Heartthrob with his flirtatious winks, Howie D the Sweetie, who was all smiles, and Kevin the Leader, who effortlessly led the group from one ballad to another.

“Vegas can’t rid of Backstreet. Backstreet is here to stay!” bellows AJ into a mic.

The Backstreet residency opened in March and was originally scheduled for a 26 date run. Due to popular demand, the dates extended to November, January, and February. Fans swiped these tickets so fast that it set the record as the fastest selling residency in history.

Kevin Richardson during "As Long As you Love Me." Photo by Jessica Klausing.

Kevin Richardson during "As Long As you Love Me." Photo by Jessica Klausing.

“How many of you used to have naughty thoughts about the Backstreet Boys?” asks Nick to a crowd of screaming fangirls. “Well, tonight we are all yours!”

Backstreet crooned out all of the iconic hits such as “Quit Playing Games (With My Heart), “I Want it That Way,” “I’ll Never Break Your Heart,” and “As Long as You Love Me,” complete with the signature folding chair dance routine.

The boys retreated to the second stage for the slower ballads such as “Drowning” and “Incomplete.” Nick broke out into *NSYNC’s “Bye Bye Bye” as a gag before exiting the stage. His particular song choice received many ‘boos’ throughout the venue. I guess the infamous Backstreet Boys VS *NSYNC fan wars still lives on.

Howie Dorough and Kevin Richardson at The AXIS. Photo by Jessica Klausing.

Howie Dorough and Kevin Richardson at The AXIS. Photo by Jessica Klausing.

The “Boys Will Be Boys” video interlude was a throwback treat. As the song played out, many candid photos and home videos of Backstreet’s early days flashed upon the large stage monitor. It was fun yet bittersweet at the same time. Our boys are well into their 40’s with wives and children now. We fans have grown up quite a bit too. The times have changed.

The second half of the set featured more Black and Blue album hits such as “Get Another Boyfriend,” “More Than That,” and “Shape of My Heart.”

“The Call” turned up the heat with its Fifty Shades of Grey type vibe in the beginning. The backup dancers strutted onstage in shiny leather with whips. Only in Vegas!

Brian took a moment to wish all of the veterans a Happy Veterans Day. “We would not be safe without you. Thank you for your service!”

Backstreet Boys closed out the show with the fan favorite, “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back).” Pink and purple confetti busted through the ceiling as the boys took a well deserved bow.

“Backstreet Boys: Larger Than Life” is a must for any Backstreet fan. The 20 song set features all of the greatest hits plus a few surprises. You’ll experience super stardom fit for a mega arena in an intimate setting. Backstreet’s back and this time, up close and personal.

SETLIST:

Larger Than Life

The One

Get Down (You’re the One for Me)

Drowning

Incomplete

Quit Playing Games (With My Heart)

Boys Will Be Boys (Video Interlude)

Show Me the Meaning of Being Lonely

I’ll Never Break Your Heart

Anywhere for You/Darlin’/Undone medley

As Long as You Love Me

The Call

We’ve Got it Goin’ On

Get Another Boyfriend

More Than That

All I Have to Give

It’s Gotta Be You/Straight Through My Heart medley

Shape Of My Heart

I Want It That Way

ENCORE:

Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)