Andrew W.K. embraces a simple, fun life
"This is why we are alive." The first words on Andrew Wilkes-Krier's (Andrew W.K.'s) sophomore release, "The Wolf," posess more power in this single string of words than in the entire pontifications of Dashboard Confessional's soppy soul. So simple a statement, yet so monumental, like the image of the girl in red that juxtaposes the black and white for less than a minute in Steven Spielberg's masterpiece, "Schindler's List."
This is music for life. Positive, pummeling, pure and powerful, exhilarating, exciting and enigmatic; listening to Andrew W.K. is like being swept into the eye of an emotional hurricane where the gray separates into violent, vapor walls and only the brilliant blue sky shines above.
On Wednesday, Sept. 10, Andrew W.K. came to D.C. and went above and beyond all expectations, theories or sentiment. There truly are no words to adequately describe the experience of a lifetime he provided to more than 1,200 fans. 7:00 p.m. With the sun setting above V Street about 150 people stood, sat and pranced outside of the boarded up blue and white warehouse, the daytime fa?ade of the 9:30 club. Your trusted Eagle music writer stood at the forefront of this line of miscreants, cheerleaders and indie-hipsters, in near hysterics as Andrew W.K.'s manager said the magic words that make journalistic life hellacious, "Yeah ... Andrew is a bit tied up right now. Do you think we could do the interview another time?"
Luckily, this music editor knew why Andrew was tied up.
"Is he still doing the radio interview at American University?"
"Yeah. That's why we're in a hurry," the manager replied.
"Do you think I could do the interview on the way over to the University?"
Most musicians would be too pretentious, pompous or even introverted to extend such an offer. An average person would never invite a stranger with a tape recorder into their cars, but Andrew W.K. is different. Beyond the powerful, intelligent pop compositions, that spew from his mind at a million miles an hour, Andrew W.K. is the real deal, and he has no qualms about what he does and why he does it. Even more so, he works hard at what he does. 7:30 p.m. With Andrew W.K. and his Island Records representative on AU's campus, the next phase of the night was underway, as sixty students waited in dire anticipation for their hero to walk into WVAU for the kick-off of the radio station's new year. After a few initial photos with fans and a few signed CDs and scribbled masterpieces of W.K., business got underway.
"Why did you decide to do the Kit-Kat commercial instead of say, Reese's Pieces?" one online listener wanted to know. Others offered praise for "The Wolf," which was released Sept. 9, while one listener called in just to compliment W.K. for being such an awesome person.
On the whole, Andrew W.K.'s appearance on the station not only gave validity to the two new general managers who arranged it, DJs Rosstar and Stevers, the stations two largest draws last semester, but also lifted the spirits of about 30 fans who could not attend the 9:30 club show that night. After playing three new tracks from "The Wolf" W.K. headed towards the 9:30 club, reporting tales of his youthful debauchery and general philosophies on life along the way. 8:00 p.m. "Growing up in Michigan was a fantastic time, and I couldn't ask for a better childhood growing up," said W.K. during the interview. "In fact it might have been too good a time which led me to seek out strife and complication."
From throwing slurry onto building walls to noise pranks at school, Andrew W.K. began seeing things differently after he was mugged at age 18 in New York City.
"It wasn't until [then] that I chose to no longer do those things, and decided that I wanted to try and be good ... I didn't really care about what people thought of me or who I was or even what I thought of me ... but it did matter what my mom thought of me. I did care about that, so that's initially what made me want to start trying to get my act together a little bit ... and eventually I decided that that was something that I wanted to be for myself." 10:30 p.m. As soon as the lights went dim in the audience and exploded above the stage at the 9:30 club, the party started. From fans dressed up as wolves, paying homage to Andrew W.K.'s latest release, to momentous celebrations and toasts to those who have recently passed on, the hour-long set was a near perfect personification of the spirit of rock.
Andrew W.K. played songs off 2001's "I Get Wet," including the hit singles "She is Beautiful" and "Party Hard," along with the title song. However, a good portion of the set was dedicated to playing tracks off "The Wolf," which has a Meatloaf meets AC/DC feel to it, best expressed on songs including "Tear it Up" and "Never Let Down." While all songs were executed with power and emotion, possibly the most compelling aspect of the show was the fan participation, which often led to the entire 9:30 club stage being run over with fans dancing and lifting Andrew W.K. onto their shoulders.
"I saw the second coming," junior Jason Geisinger said, explaining his experience. "The messiah came in the form of a man. A man with long black hair and an unkempt face. A man who said upon his people 'Tonight we live for now, we are here now so lets celebrate that ... PARTY HARD.' This man goes by the name Andrew W. K. Words do not even come close to describing the experience, but I do say thank you to all," said Geisinger.
Though the power of the performance was difficult for some to express, W.K. made it a cohesive thought:
"There are these feelings that you get as a person, that I get, I really imagine that everybody gets. And I think that everybody gets them in slightly different ways and at slightly different times ... but the feeling itself is pretty clear ...When you're overwhelmed just with excitement, or pleasure, or passion, or some kind of feeling or some kind of emotion where it's such a strong feeling, its such a strong emotion that it's not even an emotion in particular ... I think that feeling is kind of a key to the whole point of being alive in the first place, kind of a reminder of why we're here ... maybe that's the meaning of life ... to feel that feeling."
As a songwriter and performer, Andrew W.K. is able to go beyond the perceptions and preconceived notions of the often-pretentious music world and tap into something that's true and alive deep within us all.