‘With Love From’ is a phrase of endearment one would use to sign off an affectionate letter made out to someone significant, someone who has made an imprint on the heart of the writer. It’s not reserved for just anyone, but for those that are near and dear to one’s deeply fundamental thoughts, memories, and emotions. Creating an environment where these three words can be shared with the masses is rare; but sometimes those people end up being so much more than just anybody.
On Sunday, April 16th, The Fillmore Philly was filled with love between people one would typically identify as strangers. What connected these people was a bond built by the comfort of two people who had been in their lives for close to two decades, by the pair that felt more like family or longtime friends.
Sister pop duo, Aly & AJ, rolled through town on their ‘With Love From Tour,’ an apt name that doubled as an ode to their latest full-length release and an indication of the night’s tender tone.
The two kicked off the night by using the graceful and twinkly opening track of With Love From, “Open to Something and That Something is You.” Like an inviting pair of open arms, they showed just how kindly open they were to everyone who came to show them support.
As soon as the first song concluded, the sisters began reading signs being propped up above the crowd. “We were you for Halloween” and “We’ve been to every Aly & AJ concert since 2008,” they read. They then began to describe their purpose for the ‘With Love From’ tour.
“We hope to bring you back to your childhood tonight,” Aly said before pausing for a brief moment to recognize the growth they had experienced. The last time they visited Philadelphia, they played The Fillmore’s 450 capacity upstairs room. On the ‘With Love From’ tour, they stared out into the main, 2,500 capacity room at a sea of blossomed individuals who had transitioned into new, more experienced versions of their younger selves that first fell in love with Aly & AJ’s fresh music career. “Hopefully we serve both versions of you tonight,” Aly warmly declared. As seasoned musicians with a long history of creating continued significance in people’s lives, they felt qualified to bridge the gap between everyone’s inner nostalgic youth and later gained mature life perspectives; and they proved to everyone they could be trusted to do so.
Before delving into songs of the past, they announced they would be shining a light on their new album by playing it in full. A treat of a song to hear live was their personal favorite track off the record, “Baby Lay Your Head Down.” Like the thoughts of a daydream, Aly & AJ’s airy and angelic voices floated above the heads in the crowd. In the middle of the song, the two sisters faced each other and radiated warmth in the form of smiles. As they gently tossed vocal duties back and forth and looked to each other for support, the love shared between them was effortless and evident.
As they reached the middle of the set, an iconic “La La La La La” and a roar of cheers highlighted the moment every person in the crowd was looking forward to that night. The room erupted into the sass-filled warning track that was “Potential Breakup Song.” You would’ve thought everyone was experiencing the confusion and frustration of first relationship quandary syndrome; not one person skipped a beat on screaming “Except for the fact it was my birthday, MY F*CKING BIRTHDAY” and “I WANT MY SH*T BACK” (admittedly, some of the enthusiasm could have come from finally being old enough to use the real lyrics). In a fit of stage-light-flashing and hair-whipping-rage, the sisters encouraged everyone to unleash the 16-year-old anger from their bodies and into the void. We were left to feel free, weightless, and ready for the rejuvenated acoustic rendition of another early fan favorite.
“We gave her a little makeover. She’s cute now,” Aly & AJ joked as they went into a stripped back version of “Like Whoa.” It was beautiful to watch the coming of age of this mid 2000’s Disney pop song, a transformation that proves the duo’s appreciation, yet transcension of this space in their past.
Aly & AJ’s first album, Into the Rush, was released in 2005 and marked a major milestone in their youthful careers. They expressed their gratitude in their early projects for creating some of their most notable core memories and gratitude in the crowd for making it some of theirs too. If this coming together had taught us anything, it was to appreciate where we came from and recognize how far we had come since. “We’re moving up and you’re moving up with us,” the sisters thankfully claimed. And just like that, the two recognized us as equals to them; we were all just a bunch of people on equal footing sharing the experience of growing and creating lives to be proud of and thankful for in the process.
A special moment that perfectly summed up the sentiment of the night came toward the latter half of Aly & AJ’s set as they rolled into “On the Ride” from that first record that started it all. The two glowed as they overwhelmed the room with optimism. The reassuring, grateful-to-be-alive lyrics made it impossible not to crack a smile while singing along to lines like “Life has moments hard to describe” and “Always know we’re going to be fine, feeling great and feeling alive.” As the girls sang “I will be with you. We’ll do this together,” AJ pointed at her sister with purpose. In that moment, their bond and the togetherness of the entire night was beautifully amplified.
Life truly does have moments hard to describe. Even after writing a lengthy review of the show, I can’t begin to find the words to do the magic felt that night justice. Seeing a piece of your childhood revived in front of your very eyes is nostalgically fulfilling, but having that piece of your childhood rejoice in being in this experience of growth together after 18 whole years is fulfilling on an extraordinary level. Aly & AJ, thank you for serving both versions of me; and for reminding her how powerful a little leaning on the ones you love can be.
With Love From,
Show Date: 04.16.23 | Philadelphia, PA @ The Fillmore | Aly & AJ Create Comforting Magic