Aaron Carter eclipsed by opener Nikki’s Wives

Aaron Carter performs in the Maintenance Shop on Feb. 1. Carter is known for for hit pop singles including, “I Want Candy,” and “Aaron’s Party.” He recently signed with Sony records and will be releasing an EP.

Thomas Shreve

Rarely does the Maintenance Shop get the pleasure of welcoming such a well known name as Aaron Carter, which is why it’s such a shock that his opener, Nikki’s Wives made a larger impression on me.

While relatively unknown, Nikki’s Wives proved almost immediately that they deserve to be just as well known as Carter. 

A slim woman in high heels, dressed in all black took the stage, almost as if she was claiming it. Behind her, two young men dressed in all white took their places confidently behind the drums and guitar. Immediately they unleashed their most popular track, “Lonely Being Cool.”

The music and performers moved as one, almost as if they were extensions of each other. The lead singer, Nikki Whitehead, instantly seduced the crowd with her alluring voice and performance.

Nikki’s Wives are performers, they know their way around a stage and can easily control a show. Guitarist Dylan Lauzon constantly jumped and skidded across the stage only to throw his guitar behind his back and rush back to the keyboard to add a more electronic groove.

The chemistry between the band members was incredibly enjoyable to watch. They were all having a blast together and they made it clear, whether it was Nikki and drummer Nate Baylor having a drum off or Dylan and Nikki performing back to back, center stage.

The band was extremely unique and certainly one of a kind. They had their own distinct brand that seemed like it would belong in a larger venue. Their inventive style extended to the music as much as it did to their stage presence.

“We all have eclectic music tastes,” Whitehead said as she spoke to their diverse sound.

Their music spans many genres, including punk-rock, indie, alternative and pop. She described herself and band members as “whimsical,” both in personality and sound.

Currently, Nikki’s Wives are finishing out their tour with Aaron Carter before going to open for Lil Wayne and create new music.

Once Nikki’s Wives left the stage, Aaron Carter had a lot to live up to. However, whereas Nikki and her bandmates were dripping with unique character, Carter was lacking.

His initial entrance saw him run up on stage and mess around on his laptop for almost a full minute, with his back to the stage. When his first song, “Almost There,” finally played, he danced awkwardly in place while looking as if he had just woken up.

Carter’s performance wasn’t necessarily bad, but it did not stand out nearly as much as his opener did. When he finally got more comfortable with the stage, the audience was treated to the same few choreographed dance moves every song.

Between songs, he would unnecessarily praise his own artistic ability, constantly applauding his skill with creating his own beats. While his beats were impressive, he came off as arrogant.

Some of his unpleasantness can be chalked up to technical annoyances. The microphone constantly cut out, which can only be annoying to performers. In one instance Carter angrily mouthed, “What the f–k?” to the sound box.

While Aaron Carter is most obviously recognizable for childhood fame, his performance was dominantly his newer, more modern music. His new music all comes from his soon to be released album, LØVË, which he produced, as well as created all the beats. While many of his beats could be described as thrilling and upbeat, they could just as easily be described as generic.

After only a couple of songs it became impossible to tell each song apart. Nearly every chorus of every song had a deep bass drop coupled with Aaron reaching at high notes. It got old quite fast.

Near the end of the show Aaron decided to go old school by performing “Aaron’s Party (Come and Get It).” The crowd ate up the instantly recognizable song, even though it is now 17 years old. It was also fun to watch Aaron change his demeanor for a song — he seemed like he was having a lot of fun — almost as if he was a kid again.

For his final song he did something unexpected. He brought back his 2000 hit, “I Want Candy.” However, he updated the song, mixing it with the EDM genre to create a more modern version. I was incredibly intrigued at the idea. The new version turned out to be terrifically inventive.

I was so impressed that he was able to bridge his old music and new music so well. It made me wonder why more artists aren’t doing similar things with their old hits. It worked effectively and was easily the highlight of the show.

Aaron Carter will be continuing his LØVË tour across the midwest through February with the help of Nikki’s Wives.