Since getting passed over for media credentials, I decided I wasn’t going to bother with Aaron Carter’s show at the Intersection on June 7th. I don’t have extra money and I’d seen him before. My brain doesn’t need to hear “That’s How I Beat Shaq” for the thousandth time. I’ve heard it so much that I’m pretty sure I know how to play basketball, now. But when a friend offered me two free tickets, and I didn’t really have anything else going on, I couldn’t say no. I grabbed one of my favorite Stella’s servers, who happened to be a big fan when she was a kid, and we headed to Tin Can to wait out the line and get sufficiently lubricated for the evening to come. Because that was the only way I was going to get through it.
I know what you’re thinking. How can someone who throws herself into all things NKOTB be annoyed by the Aaron Carters of this world? I didn’t start out that way. Truly. I was excited to see him three years ago. I love nostalgia when it works. Then I had to reevaluate my life. A lot. Because his show is basically a sorority tour with a lackluster drummer, a begrudging keyboard and a laptop. And good for him for sustaining that and making a living doing what he seems to barely tolerate. I should be so lucky. Disclaimer over.
Since I was two giant vodka/waters and two shots deep, I decided to take notes during the show. I’m sure that looked strange, since furiously typing with your head down isn’t hidden very well in a crowd of less than 100. But I was confident I could multi-task. I’m a millennial, after all. But not nearly as millennial as the literal sorority girls who made up the rest of the audience. I’m not using “sorority” in a pejorative way (as far as you know). It’s just the nicest way I know how to describe them. And trust me, it’s an ongoing feminist struggle to give many of them the benefit of the doubt.
Speaking of women I couldn’t relate to, the opening act was so embarrassing I actually had a dream about it and woke up empathetically blushing. Word on the street (the back of the crowd) was that she was a last minute addition to fill a drop-out spot. I’m sure it was her big break so I don’t want to stomp on it or whatever, but damn. The whole thing smacked of Brittany Murphy in 8 Mile in all the most cringe-worthy ways. She pranced, she sort of sang, and the poor girl tried to hype up the few people near the stage who were doing their best to not look visibly bored. It was a whole thing. I can’t remember her name, but it doesn’t even matter because when I tried to Google it before the show, literally nothing came up. Stuff comes up when you Google MY name. So. I guess I should try to get paid or something.
My notes barely make sense (what with the vodka) so hang in there with me. I do know that Aaron did a “remix” of “I Want Candy” and then for some reason talked about Justin a lot. He never said Timberlake, but I have to assume that’s who he meant. Or Bieber? Certainly not Jeffre (the one nobody remembers is in 98 Degrees), because why? It was the most confusing round of name-dropping I’ve ever heard. He was throwing out knowing looks and nodding and I have no idea what was happening. Thankfully, someone cut the awkward by yelling “Ain’t nobody do it like Aaron can!” from the back of the crowd. That’s a line from “Aaron’s Party”, if you’re unfamiliar. This same person would go on to yell that same phrase about 13 more times throughout the show, and Aaron looked more and more like he wanted to just say “fuck it” and get a job at Best Buy every time. He hates us. All of us. He hates that we only care about Shaq and 12-year-old Aaron and that nobody takes his “Caribbean House” beats seriously. It’s painfully clear.
Before playing one of those fun “Caribbean House” mixes (a term he swears he invented) he asked the audience if we’ve ever heard of the Florida Keys. It was at this point I stopped trying to control my facial expressions and just let the eyebrows loose. Not long after, Aaron started making equally upsetting faces back at me. At least I think it was to me. I wasn’t wearing my glasses. It would have just been mean if it they were directed at anyone else. I was flabbergasted. But then mildly entertained for the five minutes he spent trying to get his sunglasses unstuck from his hair. He had some girl with M-stamped hands help him, but she just made it worse. I’m sure she’s thought about that every hour since then. Then he had a weird knot in his hair for the rest of the show and when he asked if it looked ok, I’m the only one who said no. It didn’t. He deserved to know.
“Ain’t nobody do it like Aaron can” girl was the star of my show. She had a manic desperation that I related to way too seriously. She was me in a past life. Thicker than all her friends and working hard to bridge the thigh gap. And obviously she was drunk. Not regular drunk, but newly 21 and confusing adjectives like “obnoxious” and “sexy”. It happens. This same girl pantomimed over the top sympathy as Aaron spoke about his dad’s recent death (genuinely sad) and played a recording of the last voicemail his father left him, as the intro to a confusingly upbeat song. She looked like she was about to start sobbing but when the beat dropped, she snapped, spun around and took an extremely chipper selfie with AC in the background while I stared, whiplash creeping.
Emily and I went outside several times for her smoke breaks and I don’t think I could have made it through the (maybe 35-minute) set without those breaks. I’ve never been so grateful for someone else’s habit. It was…confusing. At one point, without anyone asking him about it, Aaron started explaining why he couldn’t do a backflip on that stage. Again, nobody asked him to do a backflip. But, now that we’ve brought it up, he couldn’t because the ceiling was too low (no it wasn’t) but if we keep coming back to his shows, we will definitely see him do a “25-foot flip”. He guarantees it. I don’t know about you, but this is something I didn’t know I needed in my life, and I’ll be damned if I die without seeing Aaron Carter do a vertical, 25-foot jump. I guess that’s how he beat Shaq.