I'm not one for working out - my scrawny frame is proof enough of that - but for those seldom occasions when I do find myself struggling to do some kind of physical activity, there is no album that gets my adrenaline pumping faster than Andrew W.K.'s 2001 debut, I Get Wet. I can't explain why. The music, which lies somewhere between metal and pop, somehow encapsulates an abundance of energy in each of the twelve tacks.
Needless to say, when I heard that Andrew W.K. would be bringing his band out for their first headlining tour in seven years to perform the album in its entirety in celebration of its (belated) tenth anniversary, I was quite excited. As energetic as the songs are on album, there are few things that capture lightning in a bottle that way that an Andrew W.K. live show does. On March 28, I was among the sold out audience at Paradise in Boston, MA to experience it.
Aleister X is a friend of Andrew W.K.'s who is signed to his label, Skyscraper Music Maker, so he was a logical choice to open the tour. Nothing else about the pairing, however, makes much sense. The rap/electronic/rock amalgamation would have fit better at a Gathering of the Juggalos than at a rock show. As Aleister bounced around on stage and his guitarist was drowned out by the blaring electronics, most of the audience just looked on in confusion as they performed for nearly 25 minutes. Aleister didn't seem to let that stop him from having a good time, though.
Next up was an equally eccentric but slightly more accessible pair, Massachusetts' own Math the Band. With their nonstop vigor, they were the perfect support for Andrew. The self-proclaimed "electro-punk spazz duo" is made up of founder Kevin Steinhauser, who spent the majority of the set climbing in and out of his guitar strap, and Justine Mainville, who handled the synth while playing a tom/cymbal drum combination and still had time for (intentionally?) bad dance moves. The two shared vocal duties, and while neither one is has a particularly good voice, together they are infectious. As the audience proved, it was hard not to bob along to their caffeine-fueled beats.
There was an hour wait before Andrew W.K. took the stage. After various chants, the audience began to grow restless; an understandable reaction, considering that the wait was longer than the other two acts' performances combined. But finally, it was time to party.
Andrew W.K. came on the stage, clad in his signature white T-shirt and white jeans. He was accompanied by his full backing band - four (!) guitarists, a bassist, a drummer and his wife/cheerleader, Cherie Lily. The stage was already crowded with eight people, and that's before audience members began to make their way up there. The set kicked off, as expected, with "It's Time To Party" before transitioning into the band's breakout hit, "Party Hard."
I don't know if he was partying a little too hard before the show or what, but it seemed to take Andrew a few songs to really get into the set. Once he did, however, he never let up. The performance of the 35-minute album was stretched into an hour, with Andrew performing interludes on the keyboard between many songs. He also riffed on a pizza-shaped guitar for entirely too long. And speaking of guitars, the band's four axemen were usually all playing the same riff. It made the guitars sound colossal, but the vocals were often lost in the mix.
Minor complaints aside, the performance was a blast. After the band completed I Get Wet, a man came on stage and proposed to his girlfriend, who accepted. They may have been drunk, but any girl who will accepts a proposal at an Andrew W.K. show is certainly marriage material. The band then returned for an encore featuring material from their other albums, including "Victory Strikes," "Long Live the Party," "Never Let You Down" and "You Will Remember Tonight." Andrew also performed a piano (by way of keyboard) cover of Chip Taylor's "Angel of the Morning." Additionally, the group played a new song, appropriately titled "Head Bang," which ends with a massive breakdown.
Just when you thought they were done, the band returned to the stage to perform "We Want Fun." Knowing this was the last song, members of the audience took advantage of the security's leniency and made their way onto the stage. They continued to pile on throughout the track's 4-minute duration until there was literally no more room and people began to stagedive off. It was a great way to end a night of partying. Here's to ten more years of getting wet and partying hard with Andrew W.K.!