Anyway you cut it, Aaron Carter, younger brother of Backstreet Boy Nick Carter, was pretty much a novelty act — even in his prime at the ripe-old age of 13. Hitting it big in 2000 with “Aaron’s Party (Come Get It),” a pre-teen pop anthem about throwing a house party while his parents weren’t home, Carter became a tabloid teen celebrity and reaped all the benefits including famous girlfriends and guest roles in TV and movies.

Sadly, he suffered a laundry list of the all too predictable pitfalls of young celebrity: arrests, rehab, bankruptcy, IRS trouble and stints on reality TV, including House of Carters about his troubled family. Worst of all, his music career completely fizzled out as the young girls who idolized him did the unthinkable; they grew up.

Fast-forward to 2015 and things seem to be looking up for the now-27-year-old pop singer. He’s matured (supposedly), paid his back taxes, kicked the substance issues, performed in an off-Broadway production of The Fantasticks, and put his music career into comeback mode — he’s performing live and preparing to release new music this year.

Last Friday, Carter’s comeback brought him to Discovery Ventura and no one seemed to know what to expect. The crowd, however, was exactly what you’d expect: Young women who were barely teenagers in Carter’s heyday, now in their late-’20s on a girls’ night out and ready to re-live the good old days of the 6th grade.

The surprise was how few people were there. Clearly, Carter’s not as big as he once was, but it was still a shock to see only about 100 girls and exactly two guys (seven if you include the good but shell-shocked-looking opening act) that crammed the front of the stage.

The hope that Carter’s sound had perhaps matured or would include some backing musicians, or, hell, even a DJ, was short-lived when the stage was cleared of all equipment. Next, a hip-hop track played and Carter emerged rocking a wireless mic and dropping a few rhymes, one of which paired “crazy” with “Jay-Z.”

Granted, it was one line in one intro, but that lack of creativity and growth pretty much set the course for the night. Carter sang or rapped to a back-up  track, danced awkwardly, and occasionally leaned down to a girl in the audience to sing directly to her. The small crowd was enthusiastic, but a far cry from the packed arenas of the past, and once they got the denim-shorts-wearing, backwards-ball-cap-sporting Carter in the background of their selfies, they seemed content to just head-bop along. Carter’s voice wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t great and, frankly, it was often hard to distinguish the parts he was singing from the parts on the recorded track.

In an absolute bizarre end to the show, Carter “performed” two recent Top 40 hits. The night had literally devolved into a full-on karaoke session with a former tween star singing someone else’s hits. It was, in all honesty, kind of sad.

Carter, however, was all smiles throughout. He was even kind enough to make his relationship status clear, pulling up his shirt to reveal the word “single” on the top of his boxer shorts while he pointed to three scantily-clad babes in the crowd who had been grinding against each other throughout the night.

One imagines he approached them later at the paid meet-and-greet for some philosophical conversation. If that was the case, it may no longer have been Aaron’s party but at least there was still an after-party, and if the show was any indication, there was karaoke there.