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Sister pop duo Aly & AJ among highlights of Alameda County Fair's second week

Pair to perform classic hits, new sounds at Saturday concert

Alameda County Fair-goers looking for an infusion of '80s-inspired synth-pop are in luck because the sister pop duo Aly & AJ are coming to the fairgrounds on Saturday, promising to bring "wall-to-wall music" with them.

The sisters -- Alyson "Aly" and Amanda "AJ" Michalka -- may be most recognizable from their Disney Channel acting days or early 2000s music hits like "Potential Breakup Song," "Like Whoa" and "Chemicals React," and while they plan to perform their familiar songs in Pleasanton, the duo will also mix in recent hits off of their newest EP "Sanctuary."

"We've really enjoyed the tour so far, and we've been able to play a lot more of our new music. It's a great mix of old and new music ... and we bring a lot of high energy and costume changes to shows" Aly told the Weekly during a phone interview Monday ahead of the group's tour stop in Vancouver. "We've been really looking forward to playing at the fair."

Their fourth album, Aly & AJ describe "Sanctuary" as a five-song introspective look at identity and social consciousness, saying the subject matter of each song has moved past previous focuses on break-ups and turned inward to focus more on the self.

"We're really proud of ("Sanctuary"); it's been really great to play our newer music during live shows," AJ added. "I feel like it really sets up the live show ... We've created a collection of music that really elevates us and the importance of self-reflection."

Aside from their musical careers, Tri-Valley residents may also recognize the sisters from their acting careers, both of whom made early appearances in Disney Channel original movies. Aly has played roles on the CW shows "Hellcats" and "iZombie," and AJ on the ABC sitcoms "The Goldbergs" and "Schooled."

During their tour, Aly & AJ have been taking the time to advocate for a cause near and dear to them, partnering with nonprofit The Trevor Project to help provide crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to young people in the LGBTQ community, and ending the practice of conversion therapy.

To support the project, at each show the group provides booths to help raise awareness of LGBTQ issues, crisis intervention and suicide prevention resources, opportunities for potential allies to donate to LGBTQ causes, registers voters and encourages fans to sign a petition to end conversion therapy.

Aly added that a big motivation behind choosing to support The Trevor Project -- which was first brought to their attention by their best friend, activist and YouTube personality Raymond Braun -- was in part because of their growing fan base in the LGBTQ community. To support these fans and create an inclusive space, as well as in celebration of Pride Month, fans are encouraged to bring rainbow flags to the show.

Aly & AJ are on the tail end of their North American tour; after Pleasanton they only have four cities left on their schedule before taking a trip across the Atlantic for a five-show tour in western Europe.

Aly & AJ will be performing at the Alameda County Fair Amphitheater, 8 p.m. this Saturday; general admission is free with a fair ticket; reserved seating costs $15 to $25 and can be purchased online at the fair's official ticket site: www.etix.com/ticket/v/10432/alameda-county-fair-tickets.

Aly & AJ's performance is but one highlight of special events and shows coming to the Alameda County Fair for its second week from Wednesday to Sunday. Upcoming special events at the fair this week include:

* Wednesday, concert with Sammy Kershaw, Aaron Tippin and Collin Raye.

* Thursday, Bruno Mars tribute band Earth to Mars.

* Friday, Canadian rock band Loverboy takes the stage.

* Saturday, prior to Aly & AJ taking the stage, the fair will feature its popular Cocktail Fest, Hat Contest, Super Cross Nationals competition and LGBTQ "Out at the Fair" celebration.

* Sunday, Super Cross Nationals continue, Asian Pacific Celebration begins and LA rock band Lifehouse.

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