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Party Rock. Party in the USA. Get the Party Started. Fight for Your Right to Party.
In America, we typically respond with enthusiasm for any song that commands us to have a good time. Throw the word “party” in there and well, we just about lose our minds. Maybe it’s the repeated use of that word that lit the fire for the raucous, fist-pumping, stage-diving insanity that took place at the Viper Room last night.
Before Andrew WK even got onstage for this private show, fans were keyed up and ready to celebrate. Chants of his initials and “Par-ty hard,” filled the room as the band clawed their way through the crowd to make it to stage. A siren sounded. “Hello. It’s time to party,” a recording informed us.
As the Party King grabbed the mic and launched into the first song, the entire crowd pitched to one side. No mosh “pit” here, just one big mosh room. Fans immediately leapt onstage to headbang, stage dive or just scream along. Andrew’s seven-piece grizzly pirate band (including his wife, Cherie Lily) played merrily through the madness–encouraged by and accustomed to it, surely. As for the man himself, a decade as party king has worn well on him; he was no more torn-up than a 20-year-old. Between songs, he noted “This is really intense, like Holy God.” Yet beyond that small acknowledgement, he led the riot through the rest of the set, unfazed.
Three songs in, our host with the most identified the pattern that already seemed clear: in honor of the ten-year anniversary of I Get Wet, they were playing the entire record in sequence. Small interludes between songs were filled with improvised piano, a la his 2007 “One Man Show,” tour; a peculiar gear-shift, but still great to see included in the overall package. After playing “I Love NYC,” he slung on his infamous Pizza Guitar–custom built by ESP and hand painted by Andrew to look like a slice of New York Style Supreme Deluxe, with all of his favorite toppings. He shredded unaccompanied, while the audience clapped and chanted joyfully. Despite the aggressive nature of the music and the moshing, the undertone of the whole show was always one of pure elation–the kind of happy typically reserved for dogs and toddlers.
“No one here exists without women. We love women…WOMEN MAKE HUMAN,” Andrew said, as intro for “She is Beautiful,” one of the two I Get Wet singles. Like the piano jams, his motivational speaker side seems a direct contradiction to the get wasted and wild message of many of his songs, but weirdly enough it totally works. The sweaty, foot-stomping audience was as much of a lovefest as a day at Burning Man, just expressed a bit differently. To perfectly emphasize this duality, “Party til You Puke,” was up next, along with the very rhetorical question from Andrew: “You remember old school fuckin’ thrash?”
Of course they do. The ground shook. Legs flew in the air as crowd surfers went ass-over-teakettle all over the room. The music became basically irrelevant. Just the spirit behind the energetic experience of this show mattered, where” WE WANT FUN” is not just a lyric or a chant. It’s a demand.