I'm not a metalhead, and as I pushed my way through the bearded and pierced attendees of last Thursday's Andrew W.K. concert, I wondered how long I'd last before getting my ass kicked. But as opening acts High on Fire and Vaux trudged through their sets, the crowd appeared quite peaceful.
As the support put together W.K.'s stage, however, the audience sparked to life. Chants of "A.W.K." spread throughout the intimate venue as an enormous drum-kit was unveiled (eight cymbals!), and when the four guitarists came on stage, the crowd was at a fever pitch. The band tore through an instrumental version of "It's Time to Party" before the night's hero came bounding onto the stage. Playing only a few songs off his new album, Wolf, W.K. opted instead to dedicate most of the set to his mainstream hit, I Get Wet.
Anyone who has experienced the intense and child-like joy of a Flaming Lips show would fit right in at an Andrew W.K. concert. After every song, he threw water out onto the sweaty crowd and repeatedly called for everyone to jump, clap or dance. Even when asking for a pit, he called for everyone to "dance in a counterclockwise circle" rather than demanding violent mayhem.
As the night progressed, W.K. ruminated on various topics, ranging from how to have fun, how to remember deceased friends and family and how to honor the two-year anniversary of Sept. 11. He interspersed all this with heavy, loud songs such as "Ready to Die" and "Party 'Til You Puke." This is, perhaps, W.K.'s greatest appeal. For everyone in the audience who sang along to each song with the utmost sincerity and adoration, there were just as many fans amused by W.K.'s grand theatrics, which included carrying a fan (sporting an "I c NY" t-shirt) on his shoulders while performing "I Love NYC." Even the soaring guitars were offset by W.K.'s playful keyboard.
As fans stormed the stage during the final few minutes of the 75-minute set, W.K. could not have been happier. Despite not being visible amidst the throng, W.K. shouted, "This is what I live for!" The crowd lifted W.K. onto their shoulders as he ended the set with "Party Hard" and "I Get Wet."
Before leaving the stage, W.K. said, "Remember this night forever!" before diving into the crowd and ending the evening in grandiose style. Everyone left the building smiling.