Andrew W.K. recently took his party crew to Kansas City, MO’s The Record Bar for the second year in a row, letting fans experience the high energy, heavy rockin’ ball of fun that he’s always been. The show was part of his fall headlining tour, which is spanning much of the country (and even included Riot Fest back in early September). It’s a firm reminder that everyone’s favorite party rocker is back and better than ever — and, at this mid-sized KC venue, his passion and positivity truly took over the room.
Drop a Grand
Before Andrew took the stage, a mysterious opening act called Drop a Grand took the stage. I was curious what this performance would be like, considering the group was opening for someone as rambunctious as Andrew W.K. What were were graced with was a set dominated personality and, well…weirdness. One of the members came out wearing a human face mask, and he began speaking in a low, raspy voice clearly altered by some sort of voice changing device. Things only got stranger from there, as the rest of the band came out wearing their own costumes, which included masks, wigs, and suits (the vocalist/guitarist somehow managed to stand out from the pack with his powder blue jacket).
The sound wasn’t near as unique as the act’s appearance (as if that would be possible). But it ended up being a good thing, as the audience was treated to a good half-hour of punk rock smothered in hardcore and ska influence. It wasn’t anything super gripping in its own right — perhaps the reason the members all dress up to instantly pull in the crowd. The singer ripped through songs with filthy vocals, and the band followed with crunchy guitars and backing horns. They were a sight to be seen (and heard, to an extent), even though fans were quick to look forward to the headliner.
The backdrop for Andrew W.K.’s set was quite the throwback: a large image of his face, dripping wet with blood rolling down his nose onto his neck. It was a tribute to what got him where he is, a long-cherished musician whose return to music stardom is partly, if not all, due to the album cover this image is printed on: I Get Wet. Anyone who’s ever given a listen to the record immediately recognized the backdrop, and the man behind the music came out, decked in his classic white jeans, white t-shirt, and biceps so big he could crush you.
Everything from there was vintage Andrew — and as someone who hadn’t seen him live before, even I could tell this was the case. He kicked things off with two new songs, “The Power of Partying” and “Music Is Worth Living For”, giving attendees a taste of his recent material (the reasoning for the tour, after all). After that, he started going deeper into his catalogue. The setlist was basically split into two parts: songs from his newest album, You’re Not Alone, and songs from I Get Wet. He gave attendees the best of both worlds, though the fact that he hasn’t strayed too far from his original sound means it was basically one big, beautiful, party-filled world.
Andrew W.K. played “Ready to Die” and “She Is Beautiful” back-to-back, with his enthusiastic keyboard playing in full swing (simply watch his recent performance on Conan to know what I’m talking about). It was entertaining to watch the musician bang on the keys, his massive arms making you wonder how he’s not destroying the instrument with every downward pounding. The backing band mirrored his spirited groove, a collection of heavy metal instrumentalists who chimed in behind Andrew with punchy playing — and a bit of headbanging.
During the encore, things got even more interesting. Andrew played “It’s Time to Party”, the first song — and a shorter cut — from I Get Wet, followed by a song from his third album, Close Calls with Brick Walls, to add in a little more variety. I was getting antsy to finally hear “Party Hard”, but it’s not clear if the rest of the crowd felt that way. They were enjoying every second of the musician’s set, as it gave them the chance to sing along, move around, and watch the spectacle that is Andrew W.K. up close and personal. If my antsiness wasn’t already high, Andrew teased the crowd before his final song, telling them how it’s tradition to count down before the song starts — not from 5, not from 10, but from 93.
Fans got louder and louder as the countdown progressed, and as the band blasted into “Party Hard” at long last, nearly everyone in the front half of the venue went nuts. The crowd began moving more than anytime else during the set, and some even attempted (most failing) to crowd surf. Small mosh pits opened up as the entire group came together in a chugging array of stadium rock goodness. It was a joyous experience, fulfilling to die-hard Andrew W.K. fans, as well as anyone who was late to the party — and with how much of a party his set was, Andrew truly lived up to his brand.
Featured Image Credit: Getty Images