A couple of days back I get an email from Winnebago Deal saying that they are supporting Andrew WK at the Kings College London Student Union on Monday 14th September. I decide to go, but can’t be arsed to get a ticket – I’ll get one on the door.
7pm and I turn up. Practically no-one there, but the doorman says that the doors don’t open until 8pm . I ask if there’s tickets on the door, and he says yes. Tariq pipes up and – despite not knowing me from Adam – shoves a free ticket into my hand. I am happy.
With time to kill I walk west, cross the river over Waterloo Bridge, head east along the south bank, and return to KCLSU via Blackfriars Bridge. I join the queue at 7.45 in front of a couple of lovely, if slightly posh, kids.
Walk in and get a pint of over-priced Red Stripe.
Some utter wank-shite gets on stage with a plant pot on his head and combines distortion, feedback and cheap drum and bass breaks, with shitey vocals. There is a chance that half the audience have lived such pathetic and sheltered lives that they have never heard experimental music. If so they might have learnt something. My gut feeling is, however, that he was an utter cockbucket with no talent and the imagination of my right bollock. A straw poll indicated I was not in the minority.
The reason I came. Winnebago Deal. Awesome, as to be expected. Seriously, are you a fuck knuckle or are you a massive WD fan? The question is simple, the answer is simpler.
[By the way, if you’re reading this Ben and Ben, the twat who pissed on the drivers side door of your van is a greasy little bearded shit called Josh. He nearly got thrown out during your set for picking a fight with a guy who – entirely justifiably – thought a pint on Josh’s head was a reasonable response to Josh careering into some girl standing miles from the stage trying to watch the band. Josh, I ain’t got a problem with moshing, but it really doesn’t have to take up an area 15 ft by 15 ft in a fairly small venue and still endanger the people who are stood back from the pit. You are a cock.]
Andrew WK. Kinda know the name, but I can honestly say that this guy meant nothing to me before tonight. I understand he used to have a band and can play piano.
Anyway, speaking to a few people beforehand the consensus seemed to be that he is a God. Tariq and his mate Far were about to leave (they feared that he would be a let-down in comparison to the awesomeness of the last time they saw him) but a couple of drinks persuaded them to stay. Some Irish guy told me his mate had flown from Ireland especially. Some other guy told me he’d seen Andrew WK do a solo set and had been entirely non-plussed for a couple of songs before it all came together and he was blown away.
I live in East London and am entirely used to East European men aged 18-32 driving unnecessarily large BMWs playing utter crap at loud volumes at 7am on a Sunday morning. Think Basshunter. Think knobcheese.
Think Dave Grohl.
Think happy hardcore tempos. Think party music in excelsis.
Similes are tricky. There are two options –
(1) The backing track is a turd. A sprinkle of surprisingly listenable piano noodling is the sunshine which hardens the turd. Andrew WK is the polish which rubs the turd so good and proper that the turd becomes a diamond having a party.
(2) The backing track is a turd which is being used as the basis of a very unappetising sounding cake. A sprinkle of surprisingly listenable piano noodling is the yeast. Andrew WK is the magic oven which turns the shit – via the yeast – into the best carrot cake ever eaten.
OK, both similes are toss. But the point is that I would not consider listening to Andrew WK at home in a million years. Yet live he takes a cheesy backing track, adds some unnecessarily showy piano, and combines it with a stage act and vocal performance that grabs the audience by the scruff of the neck and says “have fucking fun or fuck right off, but don’t fuck right off.”
I genuinely was speechless for two or three songs before realising that there was no point fighting it, it was all about feeling it. The guy puts on a show like next to no-one I have ever seen. And the show isn’t about him, it’s about the crowd, who he encourages onstage for long periods of utterly bonkers, bouncer-baiting carnage.
Don’t bother with his records. I’m sure they’re crap.
But for fuck sake, see the guy live, and if you don’t leave the venue invigorated and happy then do yourself a favour and seek psychiatric help.
I leave the venue. I get a tube a meet yet another guy who thought Andrew WK is a genius. I switch tubes and end up with an orange essex girl, her slightly pudgy Alan Carr-a-like mate, Tim Minchin’s Doppleganger and a rather small guy with little feet in rather feminine shoes. I do poppers for the first time in 10 years and plot the cocktails I’ll drink when writing this.
I’ve written this quickly, with practically no research. The one thing I have seen however is that “in 2005, Andrew announced that he would begin performing as a self-help, new age motivational speaker.” That makes sense.