Boy bands, grunge and motorboating tomcats
Sugar-free drama: If you’ve banished any memory of Aaron Carter to the dusty corner of your brain previously reserved for the lyrics to “Big Willie Style” and the dance sequence to the Macarena, allow me to reopen old wounds. Once upon a mid-1990s wet dream, there were the Backstreet Boys, comprising four guys everyone forgot about and Nick Carter. The “BS Boys,” as no one ever referred to them, enjoyed an explosive rise to celebrity, inspiring Carter’s youngest sibling Aaron to saddle up for a ride of his own.
Opening up for big brother’s band in Berlin in 1997, 10-year-old Aaron signed a record deal and released his first single “Crush on You” at an age when most of his peers were still getting caught sticking Cheetos up their nose. In 2000, the younger Carter’s hit “I Want Candy,” among many others, received a traumatic amount of Nickelodeon play, as his second album Aaron’s Party (Come Get It) went triple platinum. Things became less fairy tale from there.
After eight years adrift, Aaron Carter, now 25, has already suffered the sundry traumas of loss, drug abuse, rehab and the psychological troubles that accompany celebrity. It’s that darkness though that’s giving Aaron’s Party 2.0 the weird edge his notably sugarcoated hits once lacked. Whatever your reasons for going—yesteryear fandom, curious speculation—the improbably named After Party Tour is bound to hold a little something for everyone. General admission for Carter’s show at Assembly (1000 K Street) on Tuesday, November 12, costs $15 at the door, or you can pay $50 more for a VIP ticket that during previous shows on this tour have meant carte blanche for inappropriate touching, photo ops and motorboating. The show starts at 9 p.m.; see www.assemblysac.com for more info.
A bit of grunge history: In Arizona in 1980, the Meat Puppets began performing a brand of music at the murky intersection of hardcore, punk, country and folk. The band’s unmistakable sound eventually attracted the attention of Kurt Cobain, who coordinated their significant debut to the world as guest musicians on Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged performance in 1993. During the set, Cobain and the Puppets covered three songs from the group’s second LP Meat Puppets II, including “Lake of Fire,” a song poised to become a cult anthem when Cobain died a few months later. Incarnations of the group have centered on the original guitarist and vocalist Curt Kirkwood for years, and currently includes two of the three original members, plus drummer Shandon Sahm and Curt’s son Elmo. The group, touring in support of its latest album Rat Farm, performs on Wednesday, November 13, at Harlow’s Restaurant & Nightclub (2708 J Street). Tickets are $15, and the show starts at 8 p.m. (www.harlows.com).
Soul satisfaction: The Brooklyn-based Lake Street Dive arrived at Harlow’s Restaurant & Nightclub on October 29.
The quartet, whose members met at the New England Conservatory in Boston, blend a jazz and soul-inspired sound with classic pop sensibilities. Its sophisticated throwback sound defies as many genre labels as it fits.
“These days, we just say ’soul,’” frontwoman Rachael Price told SN&R. “The aesthetic of soul encapsulates everything we’re trying to do.”
The band’s energetic set that night featured a crowd-favorite adagio arrangement of the Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back.”
Price explained the group’s choice to cover songs such as George Michael’s “Faith,” Daryl Hall & John Oates’ “Rich Girl” and Paul McCartney’s Wings ballad “Let Me Roll It.”
“Partly, it’s nostalgia, and because we play 90 percent original music, we like to put in a song that everyone is going to recognize instantly, but we also like to do it in a way that’s completely different,” said Price.
Price, the daughter of composer-producer Tom Price, dazzled the crowd with her brassy voice on the song “Bad Self Portraits,” the title track from the band’s forthcoming album, due out in February 2014.
Drummer Mike Calabrese and stand-up bassist Bridget Kearney rhythmically steered the songs through the 80-minute set, providing Beatles-tinged vocal harmonies on “Elijah” and “Stop Your Crying.”
Price introduced Kearney’s song “Wear a Wedding Band” with a warning to unnamed tomcats prowling Harlow’s without their connubial ornaments on display.
“Every show has one,” Price told the crowd.