Armors and Aly & AJ @ White Oak Music Hall in Houston, TX
Review & photography by Vanessa Umanzor
Aly & AJ out in support of their latest EP, Sanctuary, stopped in Houston, TX on June 8th. Turning the White Oak Music Hall into a welcoming sanctuary of its own for long-time fans to commemorate their childhoods and new found identities as adults.
The Sanctuary Tour theme is about something broader than their previous music. It’s about encouraging listeners to be the most colorful and unapologetic human beings they can be.
Fifteen years since the duo erupted onto the scene, sisters Alyson and Amanda Michalka, have been left to fly under the radar too easily. Despite both having worked tirelessly for over a decade to prove just how talented they are. More recognized for their time with Disney, they remain best known for pop anthems like “Potential Breakup Song” and “Chemicals React.”
Saturday’s show, for a near-sellout crowd, opened up with Armors. A band from Southern California that I’ve meant to check out for a while. They turned out to be well worth the wait — they sounded remarkable. Especially loved the moment they came out matching in yellow. Their highlights came fast during their 30-minute set. “Name,” “Who’s Gonna Love Me (When I’m Not Young),” and “DOA” to name a few. There were more than a few attendees who were familiar with their hits, so there was plenty of eager responses than my own.
The heart of the show came about some honest and raw versions of “Don’t Go Changing,” “Promises,” and “Rush.” About halfway through their show, they also stopped to inform the crowd they had partnered up with the Trevor Project to raise awareness for LGBTQ+ identifying individuals. They encouraged the crowd to follow a link where they could sign a petition to end conversion therapy. Furthermore, that once upon signing the petition they would be entered in a contest to hang out with the Aly and AJ after the show. Signers could also increase their chances of winning by making a donation.
They headed full steam into a brilliant finale: with a sweet cover of the Kacey Musgraves “Slow Burn,“ then a knockout version of their most signature tune, “Potential Breakup Song.” Aly & AJ are visibly comfortable in their skin and the performance power that comes with that. Confidence, hope, and empathy suit them well. On a night jam-packed with fantastic music, nostalgia, I saw the Aly & AJ I remember from my childhood. This is the Aly & AJ, we all deserve.