A lot has changed for Aaron Carter since beginning his performance career as a pop music-focused 7-year-old in 1994. He found platinum success with a trio of Disney-approved albums. He became a reality television star (“House of Carters”), dancing star (“Dancing With The Stars”) and Broadway star (“The Fantasticks”). And, in between, he became old enough to legally drive a car.
But, after his Friday night tour stop at The Forum inside Amherst’s Maple Entertainment Complex, one thing remains unchanged amid these deviations: Carter is still the same caliber showman who approached the millennium as a frosted-tipped tween sensation.
If a career-rejuvenation at the age of 25 can actually be referred to as a comeback, then the Tampa, Fla., native’s 2013 “After Party Tour” could be billed as just that. Carter hasn’t recorded a studio album since 2002’s “Another Earthquake.” He hasn’t toured since 2005 and, intermixed with his diversified entertainment detours, he’s countered drug-related appearances in gossip magazines with rehab, recovery and scattered performances. Now on the back end of an over-150-show tour that started in February, the pop star behind 2000’s Pixy Stick-infused “Aaron’s Party (Come Get It)” can still summon the same charisma and command that once controlled his Nickelodeon legions.
Carter – backed by his four-piece touring band – greeted the Forum’s screaming female-laden crowd with his popular cover version of The Strangeloves’ “I Want Candy.” Dressed and dancing in a backwards cap, pajama pants and an oversized sweatshirt, he showed no signs of forgetting performance moves essential to any burgeoning (or former) teen idol.
Stare longingly at the ladies through expressive vocals? Check.
Point to your heart when the lyrics demand? Yes.
Shed a layer of clothing between tunes to incite female hysteria? Got it.
And, blot performance sweat with removed layer of clothing before tossing this item to your adoring horde’s outstretched arms? Of course.
Over his hourlong Amherst set, Carter continuously reached into his heartthrob toolkit while touring through his catalog of hook-heavy, pubescent pop anthems that reference anything from Sony PlayStation to retired NBA center Shaquille O’Neal.
And, between these aged references, he paid tribute to some current radio hits, medley-style. Carter led Forum’s suburban base through his own “To All The Girls” before cooing a credible mash-up cover of Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” and Daft Punk-Pharell Williams collaboration “Get Lucky.”
He followed this trick by dishing crowd favorite “Not Too Young, Not Too Old”; donning a Lakers jersey for his fantastical smash “That’s How I Beat Shaq”; and delivering tween-aged rebellion on “Aaron’s Party (Come Get It).”
Before ending his performance with a new single – the acoustic guitar-flavored “Where Do We Begin” – he expressed a heartfelt thanks to the crowd for sticking with him through what has been a roller coaster ride of a career and early life. A few ups and downs; some twists and turns. Now back on solid ground, Aaron Carter is happy to be back – and performing like he never left.
Opening the night for Carter was a trio of acts. Justin Levinson manned his Privia keyboard, Martin guitar and harnessed kazoo in the vein of Ben Folds and Kweller.
Alex Babini followed Levinson with his own brand of sugary acoustic stylings.
Finally, West Seneca son J3 delivered his Buffalo-bred batch of hip-pop to a large contingent of local fans.