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Aaron Carter at Fever

Ann Marie Jakubowski | Monday, September 23, 2013

I hear “Aaron Carter” and the name resurrects memories of my eight-year-old self hooked into a Walkman, listening to the then-13-year-old pop star with the bleached blond hair, bopping around stage, swearing he was “tellin’ me the facts” in his chart-topping hit “That’s How I Beat Shaq.”
The album “Aaron’s Party (Come Get It)” had a couple more gems, including that unforgettably profound refrain “I want candy” in the song with the same title. Back then, I assumed it referred only to the junk-food aisle at the supermarket and not anything romantic, but I found it moving nonetheless.
Carter is slotted to perform at South Bend’s Club Fever at 6 p.m. tonight as part of his comeback tour after eight years off. In a phone interview Friday, he promised fans would hear “all the good old songs,” including his personal favorite hit “Aaron’s Party.” Which, coincidentally, still has a place in my iTunes library.
“Of course I’ll play the old stuff, oh yeah, absolutely,” Carter said. “Yeah, that’s a given. I can’t not do that. The show will be a little bit of cover music, a little bit of old music and a bit of new stuff as well.”
The eight years that have passed since he first smack-talked NBA legends changed his performing style (and the pitch of his voice), but Carter said he’s back on tour with one main goal – reconnecting with his fans after the hiatus.
“That’s what brings me all over right now on my tours,” he said. “You know, I haven’t been on tour in, like, eight years, so I’m just trying to get back into it and see everybody.”
He wouldn’t say he’s spent the past eight years off the radar, though. He and his brothers starred in the 2006 E! Network reality show “House of Carters” and in 2009, he took fifth place in “Dancing with the Stars.” From Oct. 2011 until Feb. 2013, he starred in the off-Broadway play “The Fantasticks” in New York City.
“I did ‘The Fantasticks’ for, like, over 400 performances,” Carter said. “I was the lead and it was a love story. It was awesome; it was fun doing it. It was definitely challenging, but it strengthened my vocals and helped me as a performer overall.”
Performing in a theater is “a much different world” than the pop concert venue, he said.
“In Broadway plays, people go in and they sit down and they clap for you, you know? It’s not, like, screaming and throwing stuff on stage,” he said. “It was definitely something to adapt to, but I didn’t really want to become completely acclimated to it because I like performing for screaming girls too.”
Carter said he “hopped right on tour” after his run with “The Fantasticks” ended so his fans could have the chance to see him as he is now instead of maintaining that image of him performing as a child star.
“I don’t want my fans to expect me to be 12 anymore, because that’s not the case, you know?” he said. “I’m not 12, I’m not 15 anymore. I’m going to be 26 at the end of the year.
“Fortunately, I’ve always been able to transition with my fans because a lot of them grew up with me too. I started performing when I was six, and then I did two albums in my teenage years and now it’s time to make a transition in my adulthood.”
Carter at his peak was a child star at the level of Lindsay Lohan and Hilary Duff (both of whom he dated, coincidentally), the predecessor of today’s Justin Biebers and Miley Cyruses. He listed songs by Daft Punk, Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” and Bruno Mars’ “Treasure” as some of his favorite current music and said he “couldn’t wait” to perform in South Bend tonight.
Ironically, although some might say I’m “too old” to be an AC fan, I’m still too young to be allowed into Club Fever for the concert. I’ll have to live vicariously through the minions that will undoubtedly pack thetclub, so if nothing else, just go because you know your eight-year-old self would have.
Doors open tonight at Club Fever in South Bend at 6 p.m. Tickets can be purchased online at ticketmaster.com or at the door tomorrow for $15.
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The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.