The last time Aaron Carter performed in La Crosse, he was at the height of his popularity, a 14-year-old pop phenom whose career was propelled by the marketing muscle of Radio Disney. The La Crosse Center was filled back in March 2002 with mostly young girls swooning for “Baby Backstreet,” the younger brother of Nick Carter of the Backstreet Boys.
While one of the opening acts, Dream Street, canceled at the last minute, Carter did not disappoint at that La Crosse Center show. He put on an energetic, dance-filled show with an elaborate set and light show, singing all the hits he’d become adored for, including “I Want Candy,” “Oh Aaron,” “Aaron’s Party (Come Get It)” and “That’s How I Beat Shaq.”
It’s going to be an entirely different vibe when he comes to the Cavalier Theater Feb. 2 as part of a monthlong, 25-date tour to promote his new five-song EP, “LØVË,” which is to be released Feb. 10. For one thing, the crowd will skew considerably older, as nobody younger than 21 will be admitted. And the present won’t be nearly as glitzy.
Judging by the two songs from the EP released in advance, “Fool’s Gold” and “Sooner or Later,” the Cavalier crowd might be tempted to tear out some chairs for more dance space. Carter has been rekindling his dormant music career over the past couple years, turning from the funk- and hip-hop-infused pop songs of his youth to a more sultry, atmospheric electronic dance groove.
In a recent phone interview before the tour, Carter seemed excited to get on the road again and perform live with new music to share.
“I’m building and getting the best I can be before I come back out again,” Carter said. “Ultimately, I’ve been trying to get myself back in the music and touring game, which I really missed.”
For the new music on “LØVË,” Carter worked with Melanie Fontana and Jon Asher (Chainsmokers) and German producer Michael “Lindgren” Shulz (Krewella and Zedd). He’s looking forward to the release of the full-length album version of “LØVË,” to be released later this year, complete with a new EDM-flavored version of “I Want Candy.”
“LØVË” will be Carter’s fifth album, and the first since “Another Earthquake,” which came out the year he last performed in La Crosse. While he has kept a low-profile during the past 14 years in terms of recording and touring, he’s kept at performing in a variety of ways. He’s done some musical theater, most notably a starring run in an off-Broadway production of “The Fantasticks” and a stint in “Seussical the Musical.”
The avid dirt-biking enthusiast also has done some reality TV while his recording career was on hiatus, including “House of Carters,” a 2006 show that reunited all five of the Carter siblings in the same house. And in 2009, he made it to the eighth round as a contestant on “Dancing With the Stars.”
Carter said he understands that in this day and age there are a lot of artists who focus more on putting out songs one at a time but admitted he’s a little bit old school. “I’m an album artist,” he said.
As the title of his EP and album suggests, there’s a theme to his new music. “The whole EP and the whole project is based on love, and it’s not always good,” he said. “The EP isn’t about good love. It’s about bad love.”