There were a lot of damn good shows happening last Saturday in Portland: Lightning Bolt, White Rainbow, Metal, The Shaky Hands, Robyn Hitchcock, Swan Island, Plants, Parks and Recreation, Clorox Girls. What the fuck is a boy to do? Last Saturday, poised on the fence between them all, I went with the oddball. I chose ridiculous. I chose Andrew WK.
Good lord: I had no idea. I figured I'd go to see the frat-metal, party evangelist as a cheap (not literally: tix were thirteen bucks) nostalgic spectacle. What I got was perhaps the best show I've seen this year. Andrew WK had no opening bands. He followed nearly four hours worth of dance-techno DJs, an odd thing at the time. No one got weary: people got drunk, started dancing, liquified themselves into prime party material.
That's when he went on. Or, sort of went on. There was little introduction, just a switch of DJs and him sitting hunched over his synth. There wasn't a microphone in sight (in retrospect, I think it was shoved in the crotch of his pants). The music was a far more aggro version of the techno we'd been listening to earlier, and now it was cut with clips of Andrew WK past, mixed with gnarly crunk and clips of some unidentifiable Dirty South filth. In the mix was some of the most adept key play I've seen live in a long long time. Dude's fingers looked like dragonfly wings. He went faster and faster, shaking his already sweat soaked shag back and forth more and more aggressively. Then he finally ran to the stage front, mic in hand, and launched into a manic set of slightly dance remixed tracks of the Andrew WK you may have known and loved, every other word seeming to be "party."
Sorry to say, I never got on the Andrew WK wagon, and have no idea what songs he was playing, but found myself screaming along to whatever the person next to me was screaming. It couldn't be helped: the dude's energy ran through us like a wonderful collective fever. Then, I found myself at the front of the crowd, getting yanked onto Rotture's stage along with anyone else Andrew could get his hands on. It was packed soon enough. Unless he was standing right next to you, the man himself dissappeared into his own party. It kept up like that until the...end? No, there was no end. The DJ changed, and the music moved to someone else's dance tunes (I believe the first was a Ramones dance mix). He stayed on stage with us and danced the party away, tossing out free t-shirts by the armfull. I'll still probably never buy an album, but be damn sure I'll be wearing my t-shirt until it falls off in tatters.
Photo: Andrew WK looking kinda mean. He's not.