I knew months ago that Aaron Carter was coming to Grand rapids. I saw it on the weekly email of “upcoming shows” I receive from The Intersection, and thought, “he’s playing the front room? That’s sad and hilarious. I should totally go.” And then I promptly forgot about it until Monday, when a BH friend graced my Facebook wall (are we still saying “wall”?) with an Aaron Carter Instagram re-post, taken somewhere on the streets of GR.
There is something hard-wired in me that doesn’t allow for inaction when there are celebrities, even quasi-has-been-celebs, anywhere in a 20-mile radius. Naturally, a fervent comment-conversation followed her post, which basically consisted of us going back and forth about whether we truly wanted to put on real pants and go on a D-list goose chase. You get the idea. I never actually considered what I would say or do if we found him wandering the city. I just knew that something in me felt compelled to go try. But then I made spaghetti and pushed that feeling down with marinara and ground turkey. Not before making tentative plans to go to the show the following evening, however.
Rather than go in my business casual, I rushed home after work on Tuesday to shove some more spaghetti in my face and change into something a little more trendy, which of course means something decidedly more 90s. I met my BH friend in line and after about thirty seconds of standing outside we mutually decided to walk down the street to a warm bar and an area less populated with eager Aaron Carter fans, thus beginning our first ever “in real life hangout”. One drink down, and less line to stand in, we headed back to the venue to get our tickets and feast our eyes.
The show was just starting as we grabbed drink number two from the incredibly over-priced and under-stocked bar. We coolly made our way to the outskirts of the crowd to check out the opener. They call themselves “Liberty Deep Down” and their logo is a large V, which is also tattooed on the lead singer’s forearm. After much discussion, we decided that they must be a group of aspiring gynecologists who found life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness deep down in the vaginas of women everywhere. Well, four of them. One of them, I suspect, would prefer a different set of genitalia. At least that’s what his “Broadway Lion King” and “equal sign” tattoos told me. The music was not great. It was sickly sweet tween pop that hides behind guitars, visible tattoos and black skinny jeans. The lead singer’s voice had that chipmunk quality that usually comes only after being in an exceptionally loud venue for a couple of hours. But doesn’t everything right now? Maybe my old ears just can’t process what the kids are into. And the boys were cute. All of them. So attractive, in fact, that I find it hard to believe they formed organically. It had to be an audition process. Oddly enough there is no Wiki article on them so I can’t be sure. One of them looked exactly like Zayn from One Direction. And I may have tried to smell him as he brushed past me after their set. But I’ll never confirm that. They did a choreographed spin/jump thing which made me laugh out loud and then did a cover of Justin Bieber’s “As Long As You Love Me”. Unironically. The sea of hands stamped with “M” went crazy for the whole package.
BH friend and I are on the same page about most things, being of similarly obsessed ilk, so we agreed that we absolutely needed to get a picture with LDD. They could be the next 1D. You don’t know their lives. But also to get a close look at their pretty faces. After waiting too long for a young blonde in very little clothing to stop giggling near them, we marched up and I introduced myself as a local blogger. That got their attention. They immediately invited us to come to their “bus party” after the show but I had to turn them down, citing my oldness as an excuse and informing that if I don’t take my Zzzquil by 11pm, the night is shot. They laughed and tried to ply us with the promise of free pizza, which I actually found mildly insulting until I remembered they were likely teens, and teens love pizza. But again, we declined, asking them how old they were. Their reply? “Old enough”. Which we all know is the universal code for “too young”. I laughed out loud again, and said goodbye to the future gynecologists of America.
There was a performer between the Bieber-Boys and Aaron Carter, but he was nothing but a vague memory of poorly executed Justin Timberlake and John Legend covers. And he wasn’t cute. Which is probably what failed to get my attention.
Finally it was time. The M-stamped hands flew up and at least five girls who were born in the 90s, but still tried their hand at 90s fashion, swarmed the gate near Aaron’s only logical point of entry. I looked away for a second to throw away my empty beer cup and completely missed the entrance, so it was a surprise to see two female backup dancers on either side of the now grown up child star. I could only see the torsos of the performers, and only if they were near the edge of the postage-stamp sized stage. Along with the two dancers and Aaron, was a drummer (just a drummer) and a DJ. These black gentlemen, one of which is a regular on “Wild’n Out” (did I spell that right?) on MTV, basically sat behind Aaron and looked mildly angry. When they weren’t providing “hype”, that is.
Aaron was shorter than I thought he’d be. He is skinny. Very skinny. Almost alarmingly so, with cheekbones that protrude in a way that makes me assume he subsists on a steady diet of cigarettes and cocaine. How retro. He definitely had amphetamine-eyes, appearing almost manic as he began his first song. Obviously, I have no idea if AC is on drugs. Maybe he isn’t. Maybe he’s filled with adrenaline every time he sees a room full of half dressed minors. Who wouldn’t be? I just know that his energy level was straight up bananas. He literally jumped up and down wildly throughout his set. I got winded just as an onlooker and it must have shown on my overly-expressive face because at least two fans felt compelled to tell me that I looked bored. I wasn’t bored. I was just taking it all in, and texting myself notes all night. Because I’m a cool old woman, not a regular old woman.
Aaron puts on a pretty good show, and I imagine it’d be even better if your vantage point allowed you to actually see it. He spent ample time dry humping his dancers and sending what I assume were intended as “sultry” vibes out to the audience, and the crowd ate it up. He takes his crowd-instructions very seriously. This I learned. When he tells you to “put your hands up” you had better thrust with all your might. BH friend and I were busy concentrating on nicknaming all of the youths around us and didn’t pump our fists when asked. Aaron’s laser-like stare cut across the expanse of teens and into our souls as he yelled into the microphone for everyone to put their hands up, again. He held the stare. We laughed and nervously put our VIP-braceleted arms into the charged air. My only complaint as someone who had not spent the past ten years drooling over AC and humming the tune to “That’s How I Beat Shaq”, is that he spent approximately fifteen minutes between each song catching thrown cell phones and taking selfie videos with them. Very exciting for the phones’ owners, I’m sure. Not terribly fun for onlookers in the back.
Finally, the time had come for Aaron to wrap it up and head offstage. I did manage to catch his exit, and noticed that the two dancers were wearing acid-washed denim onesies. Just. It was bad. But it was time. Time for the reason for the excursion. The Meet & Greet. Yes, I have been explaining in detail up until now, that I am not a huge Aaron Carter fan, but I do collect awkward Meet & Greet photos so I’ll pay for a VIP pass if it’s not outlandishly priced. This was not. BH friend and I got in what we thought was the line about eight times, only to be told that it or we were moving again. We chatted with others in line, like you do, and met a pair of sisters who swore we didn’t look a day over 23 years old. Those sisters are my new best friends. I couldn’t think of a great “awkward photo” scenario, so I polled the line a bit. The ladies who line, wanted to see me pick AC up like a toddler, and balance him on my hip. Awkward? Yes. And also a longshot. But I had had a few beers and crowd support builds up my bravado, so when it was at last time for me to meet the man, I asked him. I said hello, cordially, and informed him of my growing collection. I asked, “would you be willing to let me hold you on my hip like a toddler?” And he stared flatly at my forehead and said, “No.” The silence was almost too much for me, as his photographer looked on expectantly and an anxious line of curfew-laden ladies waited behind. I started to nod and he said, “…because I’m a 26-year old man.” Right, right, right…you certainly are. But, you’re also Aaron Carter, so…I think we can agree to disagree on this one. He told me he had an alternate suggestion and before I could protest, he had stuck an overused Sharpie marker in my ear. This felt oddly intimate. He literally penetrated me. And then he stuck one in his own and we were photographed. The awkward was not forced in that one. He sort of shook my hand and leaned in for a “normal” photo and I took off. It was all I could take.
Does Aaron Carter hate my guts? Probably not. He likely forgot all about me the moment I was out of his line of vision. But for at least a full minute, he did. He was insulted and unamused. Which is frankly a new reaction for me. Most people find me delightful. Even when my sole purpose is to write humorous recaps of their lives.
Liberty Deep Down didn’t hate my guts, but I assume it was because they can’t afford to lose potential fans as yet. They randomly followed me on twitter the other day, so give them time. They may read this, after all.