Eighteen years after their first release, I was finally able to see former Disney stars turned Americana and indie synth pop darlings Aly & AJ. Best known musically for their 2000s hit "Potential Breakup Song" that had a major resurgence in a viral video in 2020, Aly & AJ, two sisters with about two decades of music industry experience, have put together a show that highlights their new and more mature sound while paying homage to their pop rock roots.
At 7:30 I pulled up to the venue, The Fillmore Philadelphia, named after the iconic San Francisco club that hosted musical acts like Aretha Franklin, Santana, Cream, and Janis Joplin. The Fillmore Philadelphia captures the spirit of that time with the walls hosting tons of albums in addition to a VW Bus surrounded by flowers for attendees to take photos. It's a warm and inviting venue that has two stages: the music club and a second smaller stage known as the Foundry upstairs.
The opener for Aly & AJ was Miya Folick, an indie pop artist with stunning vocals and range, and was a perfect example of why you should never skip out on the opening act. While I had not heard Folick's music before the concert, I was moved by the warm vibrato and crystal clear vocals that cut through the guitar and keys. My favorite song from her was "Get Out Of My House". The performance reminded me of songwriters like LP or bands like 90.3 the Core favorites The Beths. I can safely say that I am definitely looking forward to the release of her new album ROACH coming soon.
After the opener I got the chance to look at the rest of the year's lineup for the venue with awesome artists like The Flaming Lips, Lizzy Alpine, and Hippo Campus.
Then it was time for the main event. The lights on the stage went dark and the thrum of energy from the crowd was palpable. We were all waiting for it, and shouts of excitement filled my ears and finally, the lights come on and on stage were Aly and AJ Michalka along with the rest of their band. Stage set with light fixtures that looked like phonographs or flowers seemed to glow like the stained glass of a cathedral. Welcoming us all and thanking us for the time and dedication from new and old fans alike, they launched into their set list with the first track off of their new album With Love From.
One of the highlights of the night included one of my favorite tracks "Pretty Places" which I have played very often on the station. It was amazing to hear the song preformed live, and hear those around me singing along and loving it as much as I did. Speaking of singing along to songs, the big song of the night, the one that everyone in the crowd knew was coming, because if you know one song, it's this one: "Potential Break Up Song," was electric! It's a song you could tell that they had fun performing, jumping up and down and shredding on their guitars while inviting the audience to sing along. It was a bit of a mood shift, but it worked! It takes guts to go from one of the fastest paced songs in a set to a slow dance song, but the charisma, authenticity, and love that went into the performance made the set work so well.
They also played another old track but this time they gave it a little bit of a makeover. Originally a faster track and one that they always said they would never perform, "Like Woah" a song off of their 2007 album Insomniatic was given a sultry acoustic sound. Slowed down, the song has a totally new life to it and I honestly loved it. While they released "Like Woah (A&A Version)" in 2022, I would love to hear that they planned on releasing this version of the song because it simply hits different.
"Tear Up The Night" was also incredible, reminding me of something you might hear off a Fleetwood Mac album back in the day and another song where you could see everyone in the crowd dancing along. "After Hours", another single from their most recent album was also a crowd highlight. Before their last two songs, Aly shared the duo's experience going through the Sacramento Shooting back in 2022 where they were sheltered in their tour bus that was hit by the crossfire, expressing their staunch desire for gun safety and asking fans to always ask if there is an unlocked gun in the house to bring awareness to these issues. "Way of Nature Way of Grace" was performed after this, a beautiful slow song about loving someone and ending with their song "Rush" sung in the style of the slower track.
The concert was fantastic, and the duo made sure to make time to acknowledge the audience throughout their set. They spent time reading signs and asking questions that were acknowledged in turn with excited shouts. It was an incredible and welcoming show where you could feel the appreciation and love for the music and the artists. It was a shining beacon of an example of how artists can change and grow over the years while still keeping their heart and passion for what they do.
For more info on the duo and links to their music, check out their website alyandaj.com.
Open To Something and That Something Is You
With Love From
Love You This Way
Talking in My Sleep
Baby Lay Your Head Down
Don't Need Nothing
Potential Breakup Song
Church (Stripped Down)
Like Woah (Acoustic Makeover)
On The Ride
Tear The Night Up
Way of Nature Way of Grace
6 Months of Staring into The Sun