SAN FRANCISCO — I feel like I lost a fight. My throat is sore from shouting song lyrics. I can’t hear a thing. I also can’t stop smiling.
I think, by Andrew W.K.’s definition, that means I successfully partied hard.
An Andrew W.K. show with his full band isn’t so much a concert as an experience. Including the man himself, seven people (three of them guitarists) packed the small stage at the Independent, and each seemed to be having a great time and putting on a show by himself. The lights and smoke machines were choreographed to be utterly chaotic, and at one point the guitar player to stage right invited fans in front to play on her behalf because things had just degenerated to random noises.
This all may seem like a criticism but it’s the exact opposite. The experience was amazing. It boiled the best parts of live music—the camaraderie, interaction, the escape—into a concentrated form. In a year as stressful as this one, with as many new things to worry about as each day seems to add, a night dedicated to pure unbridled fun is a much needed pressure release valve.
Of course it is still a concert, so from a musical perspective it was a great set. There aren’t exactly a lot of ballads in Andrew W.K.’s catalog to begin with, but his song selection stuck mostly to the fastest of the fast, and he leaned heavily on his first album, 2001’s I Get Wet, which meant even the most casual fans could join in the plentiful audience participation.
The highlight of the night was of course his biggest hit, “Party Hard,” which he saved for last. And which he led into with a countdown, from 93.
That’s right. Ninety-three.
“We count down,” he said, “to build it up.”
If people thought he was kidding, they didn’t let on. The crowd counted down with him all the way to zero. And it was worth the buildup. The riotous performance was something that needs to be experienced to be fully understood; the closest I can get to describing it is that it’s the aural equivalent of being in a kids’ bouncy castle while it gets hit by a truck.
Again: I mean that in a very good way.
The other hits—”She Is Beautiful,” “We Want Fun,” “It’s Time To Party,” etc.—were there too, with slightly lesser but still substantial fervor. And changing “I Love New York City” to “I Love San Francisco” was a nice save.
As of this writing there are still tickets to his second San Francisco show, so if you’re reading this on Thursday, Sept. 28, you should definitely go. You owe it to yourself to blow off some steam and experience a party the Andrew W.K. way.
Just don’t expect to hear anything on Friday.