The iconic sister duo, Aly & AJ, returned to Austin, Texas
Aly & AJ at Mohawk in Austin, TX
The iconic sister duo, Aly & AJ, returned to Austin, Texas for the first time in over a decade for one big dance party in the rain. “We didn’t mean to go on a hiatus for ten years,” Aly chuckled, “It kinda just happened but we’re so excited to be back in one of our favorite cities! We’ve spent a whole lot of time here eating amazing food and thrifting some of our favorite clothing pieces!” Just last month, Aly & AJ released Sanctuary: their five-track record that touches stories of identity, self-reflection, and social consciousness.
“Shows are a sanctuary for our fans. We find a lot of peace and healing comes with talking to them while on tour,” explains Aly. “Hearing their stories about how they came to our music or how it impacted their life – it really touched us and we wanted to give something back.”
The duo consists of sisters Alyson (“Aly”) and Amanda (“AJ”) Michalka, who started their spotlight in the early 2000s with the Disney Channel and Hollywood Records. They released their album Into The Rush (2005), Acoustic Hearts of Winter (2006), and Insomniatic (2007) with Hollywood Records. The duo briefly performed as 78violet but then eventually returned as Aly & AJ back in 2017 to release Ten Years.
The night started off chaotic. Hundreds gathered at The Mohawk watching the sky nervously as large grey clouds kept gathering above us. Shortly after, it began to pour hard with some occasional lightning. “I didn’t wait over ten years to be rained out from seeing Aly & AJ” I said to a fellow photographer, who nodded in agreement. I waited it out as long as I could but also had to protect my camera gear from getting soaked and so I eventually ducked for cover. At one point of the night, it felt like a monsoon as rain was pouring sideways and every inch of my body felt cold and soaked. Some went to hide by the covered bar while most forfeited the idea of staying dry and stuck it out in the rain. Many made light of it and began to dance around in the rain while drinking. The mood was truly light-hearted and everyone was having a great time. As Aly & AJ took the stage, the clouds also began to clear up and the rain stopped. Relieved was an understatement as everyone cheered (while also soaked).
Into The Rush was my first CD ever purchased as a kid and I was forever bummed I never got the chance to catch them live. When Aly & AJ announced their comeback along with a tour, I couldn’t believe it and marked my calendar instantly. What a dream! The duo entered the stage with matching button-up tops and biker shorts but also with the biggest smile on their faces.
“I can’t believe you guys waited through that storm” AJ exclaimed, “We were so worried this show wouldn’t happen. Don’t worry, we’ll give you a show to make it worth it.”
Indeed, they did so. The setlist was a balance between the old and the new. The sisters performed a mix of their newest dreamy releases such as “Church” and “Take Me” along with pop-rock tracks from Into The Rush and Insomniatic. I fell in love with “Promises” after hearing how beautifully sultry and dreamy it was live and have been listening to it on repeat the past couple days post-concert. The duo even threw in an effortless cover of “Slow Burn” by Kacey Mugraves.
In addition, Aly & AJ teamed up with The Trevor Project by bringing donation bins and awareness booths to every tour date to shine a light on the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ young people. Mid-show, the duo spoke about The Trevor Project partnership and the opportunity to win meet and greets for those who signed up for the petition. Everyone whipped out their phones to participate. I love that the duo is using their voice and influence to activate their fans to make a difference in the world.
The night was filled with nostalgia as the crowd shouted out every single word to the throwbacks “Potential Breakup Song”, “Like Woah”, and “Chemicals React.” Suddenly, I felt like I was in elementary school again listening to my Walkman CD player. The energy was impeccable from the duo and the crowd and definitely infectious and memorable. “Chemicals React” was my favorite song performed as the energy was incomparable. I shouted each word out and danced as the sky began to sprinkle drops of rain down again. The moment was beautiful. There was never a dull moment during the show and will be one of my favorite shows to date. I’ll be counting down the days until I can see them again next. For now, I’ll have their latest EP Sanctuary on repeat.