Ten years after its release, I Get Wet remains one of the most ridiculously fun records of all time. So it’s no wonder that its creator, Andrew W.K., sold out Philadelphia’s Theatre of the Living Arts March 30 when he promised to perform the record in its entirety. Granted, fans had to get through some less than stellar openers, but once W.K. and his band took to the stage, there was abundant partying.
The openers were odd pairings for W.K.’s brand of party-centric hard rock. Aleister X’s whole shtick revolved around playing ironically terrible rap-rock. At least, I think it was supposed to be a joke. I think this what dogs hear when music plays, because the levels were so terrible for Aleister X that everything kind of blurred together into an unappealing slop. I’ve never seen a crowd so indifferent to a performer before. They didn’t boo, didn’t offer up polite applause. Everyone in the room seemed to collectively agree to never talk about the last 25 minutes ever again.
Math the Band fared much better with the audience. Combining Nintendocore with a pop-punk urgency, the duo of Kevin Steinhauser and Justine Mainville got some enthusiasm out of the attendees. Like a sloppier Bomb the Music Industry!, Math ripped through a high energy 30-minute set. Admittedly, this band wasn’t my thing--too sloppy, too screechy and the levels didn’t balance out until about five songs in--but the crowd response was still sizable all the same.
Still, fan response was tame compared to what happened when W.K. came out and ripped through “It’s Time to Party.” Flanked by four guitarists simply because why the fuck not, the man who may or may not be Andrew W.K. proceeded to rock his way through all 12 of I Get Wet’s tracks with the utmost enthusiasm. Seriously, this guy does not stop rocking. I Get Wet’s subject matter is admittedly repetitive (partying, ladies, getting wet), but the hooks and energy that made the record so great were very much present this night.
Also readily available: Charm. Lots of charm. Whether he was discussing food (“Do you guys like… cheesesteaks?”) or getting all new age-y (“Tonight, we are reborn as the best possible versions of ourselves!”), W.K. was all about shooting the shit with fans in between songs. Those lucky few who made it over the barricade and on to the stage were pretty much guaranteed some mic time with their idol. By the time the band launched into “I Get Wet,” the whole stage was covered with bodies. So many people got up at this point that they opted to just stick around for set closer “Don’t Stop Living in the Red.”
Eventually, the stage cleared out so the band could get to a lengthy encore. Admittedly, the room started to clear out once I Get Wet had been covered, but the more devoted followers were treated to choice cuts from The Wolf and Close Calls With Brick Walls, as well as a new song about headbanging, after which W.K. bid the joyful crowd good night. I understand that some people think of anniversary shows to be too pandering, but got-damn. Get Wet is pretty dang amazing live.