Broad Ripple gets a touch of the beat

Sometimes nostalgia is the best medicine, and for attendees of The Vogue Theatre in Indianapolis, that really felt like the case this past Thursday evening when Aly & AJ brought A Touch of the Beat to the Broad Ripple part of the Hoosier State’s capital city.

Doors, which had originally been scheduled for 7pm, were pushed back to 8, and openers The Brummies didn’t go on stage until almost 9, instead of right at 8, so things got out to a bit of a late start. When the Alabama-based quartet did finally go on they experienced some technical difficulties, but they powered through a false start and a few similar setbacks to put on an otherwise enjoyable set. They kicked off their time on stage with three cuts from their most recent album, 2020’s Automatic World, including the beachy “After Midnight,” drawling mid-tempo stomper “Fever Dream,” and groovy summer rocker “Sunshine,” with the latter featuring an unexpected trumpet part that really added to the song’s charm. This stellar trumpeting actually made multiple appearances during The Brummies’ half-hour set, including near the end of “Drive Away,” the quartet’s 2018 collaboration with famed country singer Kacey Musgraves.

I really enjoyed the bobbing, surf-like nature of many of their tunes, especially on tracks like “Do It Tomorrow” and their catchy new single “Cosmic Space Girl,” the latter of which closed their set and released everywhere shortly after the show ended that night. I also appreciated how the Birmingham natives announced almost every one of the songs they played before doing so, making it relatively easy to go back and listen to each one after the fact. Some opening acts leave that part out, and although it’s not a huge deal, it certainly helps when I’m going back through the artist’s music later on. Their feel good vibe throughout, even in spite of a few minor hang-ups, set the mood for the evening and got the audience primed for the main attraction.

The feel good vibes only continued when headliners Aly & AJ finally set foot on the stage shortly after 10. They opened their hour-and-a-half-long set just as they open their latest album, for which the tour takes its name, with the joyful “open road anthem” “Pretty Places.” Obviously, as this tour is in support of a touch of the beat…, the immensely-skilled sisters and their equally-talented backing band played through the vast majority of the record, including nine of their set’s first ten songs. Between ten of the twelve tracks from the LP’s standard edition and three of its four bonus tracks as well, the pop rockers’ set focused heavily on their new music, which, I as a big fan of the record, could definitely appreciate. They even folded in an unreleased song called “Blue Dress,” which almost dabbled in country at certain points.

That said, the Torrance natives also dug back into their 18-year career for a few selections, including the debut single they wrote and released, “No One,” and the classic pop-punk banger “Chemicals React,” along with the title track from their 2007 effort Insomniatic and a cover of the 2012 Tegan and Sara song “Closer.” And yes, for those of you wondering, they capped off the night with a rousing rendition of the iconic “Potential Breakup Song” as their final encore. With so much of the sonic disposition of a touch of the beat… leaning heavily into the music of the ‘60s and ‘70s, even the new songs were a nostalgia trip of sorts – just a different kind of nostalgia. My wife, who attended the show with me, mentioned how the entire concert felt like an adolescent dream come true, and I’d imagine that many folks in the audience likely felt that same way. It’s as if the dreams of many there were finally being fulfilled, just in a 21-and-up music club many years later.

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