Something old, something new, Titan Radio we love you <3
Written by Emma Dapkus
I can truthfully say in my 21 years of living I’m not sure I’ve ever been to a concert where I know less than 10% of the total lyrics that are sung at the performance.
I usually attend shows where I am familiar with the band to the point of being able to sing (scream, if we’re being honest) at least 75% of the lyrics, if not a percentage closer to near perfect, shrieking with girlish glee at my favorite songs and marveling that my most-beloved artists are living, breathing entities sharing the same airspace as me.
But the Aly and AJ concert with opener Armors, last Saturday, December 7, at the Glasshouse in Pomona, was an exciting exception to this usual circumstance.
And I think I liked it.
As soon as I found out I was going to the concert this past weekend, I immediately Spotified (a new verb I’m working on) Armors to get a sense of their music and try to learn at least part of a song or two. I immediately liked their sound and was struck first by their song “Honda Civic,” one of their most recent releases and an ode to the pains of dating in your 20’s. Its mixtape-like vibe combines a classic alternative rock guitar, with a fresh new techno sound. That seems to encompass the music that is Armors.
My co-host Gianna and I arrived at the venue with a few moments to spare and decided to grab a drink before heading into the main-stage area. As we were taking the first couple sips of our dirty Shirley’s, I couldn’t help but be captured by the music we started to hear. With the opener clearly starting, we rushed in to see a good-sized crowd watching two men: one on drums and the lead guitarist/vocalist center stage.
Although the Orange County-based band has gone through many variations over the past few years, the now two-man duo could not have rocked harder. Olen Kittelsen and Moses Trotter pack a powerful punch with their iconic alternative sound. I’ve been waiting for years to stumble upon another band whose music compares to the greats like Fall Out Boy and All Time Low, the alt-pop bands of days past.
And Armors is pretty darn close.
Olen Kittelsen’s voice cuts through the air–it’s clear, and its resonance sits within this perfect realm, his falsetto so controlled and at times reminiscent of pop God Brendon Urie’s. “Names” was a standout song from the evening and perfectly demonstrated his powerful voice– and the catchy tune was stuck in my head for DAYS after leaving the venue.
“DOA,” “Genesis,” and “Human Touch,” were other honorable mentions that rocked the crowd; all with great beats and the catchiest of lyrics. The two men could not have seemed more humble and happy to be there. Playing music just for the love of it. Kittelsen’s parents were even in attendance, looking very proud to see their sun making the music he loves.
I’m not kidding when I say my roommate Gianna and I have been listening to Armors for days. We are beyond obsessed.
After a brief interlude in action, the main event kicked off around 9pm and not a moment later– these former-Disney gals were ON TIME. And thank goodness for that because 9-year- old Emma could not have been more eager for their arrival.
I must admit I have not kept up with sister duo Aly and AJ Michalka as much as I now realize I should have over the past few years. After a long musical hiatus, ten years to be exact, the Michalka sisters made their return to the music scene with their aptly named album “Ten Years.” The pop-culture world was abuzz as the two debuted a more mature, indie sound straying away from the pop-rock Disney feel they dawned as teenage girls.
The ladies emerged stunningly dressed in a combo of white and leather for Aly and black lace and sparkles for AJ. The ladies clearly have their own personal styles, but they mesh well together. And so do their voices.
Both Aly and AJ have a clear raw talent and a natural gift for singing that has been honed over the years. It was so refreshing to see two child stars who have really seemed to find themselves over the past decade; and they chose, admirably, to do it out of the limelight. Their new sound is definitely more alternative in nature, freer, a little more alt-pop with a splash of synthesizer. And I dig it.
“Take Me” was a crowd favorite not just for its groovy beat but also for the empowering message. “Sanctuary,” one of the last songs the duo performed as an ode to their fans, was a standout for me. It’s the kind of song you wanna dance freely to while hugging basically everyone you know. It’s a song full of love and gratitude.
The sisters took a pause in the middle of their concert to discuss the Trevor Project, an organization fighting for LGBTQ rights and are working to end conversion therapy, something the girls are very passionate about. They encouraged fans to donate and sang “Good Love,” a song celebrating love in all ways, shapes, and forms. We love woke and inclusive Queens.
I was anxiously awaiting the throwback songs the entire evening and I was absolutely, 100% satisfied after receiving every song I hoped and prayed to hear performed, which included an updated version of Aly and AJ’s classic Christmas jam “Greatest Time of Year.” The crowd went crazy for “Like Whoa,” “Chemicals React,” and arguably the most important iconic anthem of my childhood “Potential Breakup Song.” To hear it live was transforming. It truly still remains an anthem over ten years later.
I would “rush” (no pun intended, at all, whatsoever) back to an Aly and AJ concert so fast you wouldn’t even believe it. Their new sound was catchy and cool and live they sound like an absolute dream.
Titan Radio truly gets all the thanks for getting me out of the house on a Saturday night to a new venue to hear songs I didn’t know and now absolutely love. Gianna and I are waiting patiently for the next time we can see Armors (February in San Diego, be on the lookout) and would jump at the chance to see Aly and AJ again. My eyes are peeled for their next tour.
The moral of the story is: don’t be afraid of concerts where you don’t know the sound or the lyrics or even the band yet. Because they could be a beautiful, wonderful, soul-changing time.
And who knows, they could even become your new favorite thing!