Friday nights in the summer – there’s really nothing else like them. And there’s something even more magical about the warm glow of a summer evening in Minneapolis after enduring what felt like a winter that will never end. With the warm temps and the sun shining, Minneapolis was full of life and good vibes on Friday night. Those good vibes got a little better thanks to sister indie-pop goddess Aly & AJ.
Of course, many might remember Aly & AJ (also known as Alyson and Amanda Michalka) from their Disney days but the sisters have come a long way from the days of Cow Bells and Potential Breakup Song. The duo were “brought back to life” (their words) with the 2017 release of Take Me. The revival single was followed up with the release of their ep, apatly titled, Ten Years which marked ten years since their last release Insomniac. And that is just one of many things that is so fun and special about these two – since they decided to make their long awaited return to music, they haven’t shyed away from their past, in fact, they’ve embraced it. The sisters have embraced their past and put a whole new spin on things. Their set at The Varsity featured plenty of hits from their earlier days including the agnsty, love song Chemical React (which 15 year old me was very excited about) and Rush, but their set mainly focused on their newer material. Their new sound is just that – Aly & AJ grown up. It’s big, it’s synthy, it’s dancy. It’s M83 meets Cydni Lauper meets Green Day meets Carly Rae Jepsen. It combines elements of pop, rock, dance, electronic and more. Their new sound is absolutely infectious. Whatever Aly & AJ are doing, we hope they keep doing more of it.
The sold-out crowd at The Varsity was absolutely enamored with the sisters, dancing and singing along to song after song. And what was so special about the sold-out crowd was the diversity of the crowd – all walks of life were represented in the crowd, and that can’t be said for every show. The diversity and colorfulness of the crowd reflect the many facets of Aly & AJ. There really is something for everyone. Whether it’s the nostalgia, the vibes of their new sound, whatever it is – there is place for everyone at an Aly & AJ show.
In addition to what was just a damn good live show, Aly & AJ continue to show their philanthropic and activism hearts on this tour. On this leg of the tour they brought along an amazing organization called The Trevor Project which works to prevent suicide among LGBTQ youths. There was opportunities to donate to The Trevor Project and a portion of their merch sales go to The Trevor Project. With Pride Month kicking off – there was really no better way to kick off the month than with Aly & AJ and The Trevor Project. While Pride Month is a time to celebrate, it’s also a reminder of how far the LGBTQ community has come – but how much further there still is to go.
The sold out Aly & AJ was one of those that you never wanted to end, but end it did. They closed out their set with their latest single Sanctuary and their hit Potential Breakup. There wasn’t a more perfect way to spend a steamy, summer Friday evening than with Aly & AJ. We hope to see them back in the Twin Cities very soon.
SET LIST: Church / Star Maps / Closure / I Know / Good Love / Chemicals React / The Distance / Don’t Go Changing / Promises / With You / Not Ready to Wake Up / Like Whoa / Take Me / Rush / Slow Burn (cover) / No One / Sanctuary / Potential BreakupAly & AJ were supported by Orange County trio Armors. The three-piece kicked off the evening with their pop-punk sound, reminiscent of the peak Warped Tour days, but with a modern, progressive twist. Armors was formed by Olen Kittelsen (lead vocals) and Sam Beresford (keyboards) in 2014 and they’ve been releasing music ever since. Their set featured Cataastrhphic, Genesis and Whose Gonna Love Me (When I’m Not Young). Though this was Armors first time in Minneapolis, we certainly hope it won’t be their last.