Andrew WK’s Joke Won’t Last
You’re nuts. Have you seen the video for “Party Hard?” It’s insane. Are you driving a Camaro? Do you have your white leather high-tops and acid-washed jeans? Better have a fresh can of Skoal on you too as I’m sure it’ll be a long night. — Phil Wise, via e-mail, 4/2/02
I didn’t drive my Camaro to the show. And I couldn’t find the large-tongued Reeboks under my bed. But acid-washed? Come on. You know I only wear three-legged jeans. Besides, Converse All Stars and unfortunately-washed jeans are Andrew WK’s shtick. And who wants to look like a long-haired kook with a Glenn Danzig complex?
Tuesday night’s Andrew WK “performance” at Chicago’s Metro played out like a car accident: Despite the onstage carnage, you just couldn’t tear your eyes away. There was a perverse pleasure in watching WK’s pre-teen (and curiously overweight) all-ages audience snicker and point at the lousy longhair on stage, hooting and clapping with exaggerated praise after each screed of synthesized party metal was mercifully ended. Performing in front of a comically enormous A W K tapestry, and flanked by no less than three doom metal guitarists, Andrew Wilkes-Krier’s crystal gravy talent couldn’t have been more obvious. But he must have felt the need to drive that point home. At the end of his set, WK attempted a triumphant leap from the drum riser. But no one told him that only real rock stars are allowed to do that, and he slipped, collapsing into a heap of glacier-wash and stained white T. At that point, Andrew WK received his only genuine applause of the night.
You can’t pick up the conch and simply declare yourself Keeper of the Party Rock Platter. If you could, David Lee Roth would be a millionaire solo artist. Everyone likes to drink beer, get laid, and listen to a bitchin’ party record. And normally, we don’t ask for any substance from that music, other than its inclination to jam. But don’t punch me in the face and tell me I love it. Andrew WK is trading his ballsweat riffs and party hard lyrics on a platform of insipid passion. Between songs, lank hair hanging across his face, WK waxes about the sanctity of his performance, and the release felt when real rock and roll happens. But there are two things wrong with that speech. First, there’s nothing sacred about WK’s bit. It’s by-the-numbers hair metal indebted to Anthrax, with too much reliance on keyboard loops. And second, if Wilkes-Krier really wanted us to party ’til we puke, he’d just shut up and rock it. The great thing about a party band like Motley Crue was their abhorrence of pretense. They didn’t wrap up the riff to “Girls, Girls, Girls” in anything other than a pile of their groupies’ torn undergarments. The walking sight gag that is Andrew WK hasn’t learned this lesson.
Andrew WK has deployed upon the public a postmodern shell game, in which his trailer park garb, metal sensibilities and ostensibly vacuous lyrics are supposed to be perceived as a critique of Rock itself. And that’s annoying. Party music doesn’t deserve to be sullied by such a villain. Would you ever want Kid Rock to tell you that “Cowboy” was about much more than garnering west coast pussy for his Detroit playas?