Last time Spinning Platters caught up with Andrew W.K., he was playing Ramones songs with Marky Ramone’s band and giving me his thoughts on marriage. Having finished that tour, he’s now back on the road with a solo keyboard tour called the Party Hard Holiday Tour. He brought his particular brand of party rock (better than other brands of party rock) to a new venue called Assembly in Sacramento, and I made the road trip.
A band called Lonely Avenue opened. Probably not named after the Ben Folds/Nick Hornby project, nor the Ray Charles song, this is a band of local teenagers who really, really love Blink-182. This was obvious even before their set closer of “Dammit.” These guys had a lot of energy, and the crowd seemed very supportive. I’m pretty sure one of their mothers was right behind me cheering on her son. It also could have been an aunt, a neighbor, or age-inappropriate fangirl. Who knows?
Next up was the curiously named Maxxx. As they were setting up their gear, I was disappointed to see them all wearing ironic ’80s metal clothes with wigs and headbands and a keytar, and I was really ready to hate them and their ironic winking. Then they started to play. Wow. Maxxx is a legitimately excellent hard rock band, and the cheesiness of their dress is absolutely a tribute to that era of music. They take the ridiculousness of that era and play it seriously. The guitar solos are awesome, the harmonies on point, and the lyrics are downright goofy.
These are guys that know that “Hell Bent For Leather” or “Metal Up Your Ass” can’t possibly taken seriously. They play “Heavy Levels of Heavy Metal” and “Rock ‘N Roll Railroad” with furious glee. The CD they had on their merch table was not some throwaway EP, but rather a 24-song “collection” called Too Much Pleasure: 25 Years of Maxxx. It even features all of their album covers throughout the years, note-perfect parodies of some classic album covers.
They were a perfect setup for a man who people refused to take seriously in the beginning, but now have come to respect, so-called “professional partier,” Andrew W.K. But first, we’d wait. Microphones were setup and then removed. Some big (literally, big) AWK fans came up to the front and center, asking us if we were ready to party. “Do you need any fake blood?” they asked me, after preparing their noses and shirts with enough blood to do a reasonable facsimile of the I Get Wet album cover. This was not a large crowd, but oh was it spirited.
Andrew W.K. came on, accompanied by a backup singer that a few of us nicknamed “Prancing Joe” but Andrew referred to by several different names throughout the night. He sang and did funky little dances and riled up the crowd as Mr. WK spent most of his time playing his keyboard and growling into his microphone. At other times, we were seeing the electroclash AWK as he sang along with a background track, which allowed him to do his trademark move: hug a fan, allow him or her to sing a line, and then watch them dive into the audience.
This was a very short set, and included usual highlights “Ready to Die,” “We Want Fun,” and “Party Hard.” The non-musical amusement of the night was watching the small security team change from “Oh hell no you are not getting on this stage” to “Maybe you’re going to get on this stage” to “Clearly you’re getting on this stage but we’re keeping you away from this riser.” Impromptu meetings, led by a man in plaid, were being held on stage to discuss a strategy.
Eventually, the chaos was reigned in, and Andrew W.K. introduced what would be his last song, “I Get Wet.” This caused your intrepid blogger to jump on stage with his water bottle and spray it all over the stage in his ongoing quest to be literal. More hugs and high fives were passed around, and the show was over. Screaming for one more song had no effect. The show was over. The same man in plaid, who had led the security meetings, came to the front of the stage to tell us that the show was over, the club was closed, and basically to GTFO. The Man in Plaid didn’t come to party (and shouldn’t bother knocking at my door). It felt like our parents had come home to find a raucous party and weren’t too happy about it. It was a an extremely sudden and dulling ending to a crazy night.
There’s no time I won’t see Andrew W.K., and the whole crowd clearly feels the same way. It’s always time to party. Man in Plaid, open your mouth …