Andrew W.K. - live in Lancaster (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Andrew W.K.

live in Lancaster (2015)

live show

Andrew W.K. took the stage looking slightly worse for wear on December 13, 2015 at Lancaster, Pennsylvania’s Chameleon Club. The last date of the tour bore the rigors of all its predecessors. WK’s usually bright white clothes had been smudged into a grey-yellow combo through the previous dates of hard partying. His 80’s metal hair was frayed and a little matted. Even his voice was blown out from the previous weeks of volume 10 delivery. And truthfully none of that mattered.

As soon as he took the stage, WK announced that the show was not a “holiday show” but rather, a “Holiday Party.” He then blasted into his solo, backed by electronic backing and a keyboard on stage. He sped from song to song, howling and yelling, and generally, just erupting into flashing pulsations of energy.

Of course, he opened with the riotous “It’s time to party” and from there, he sped from song to song, taking not a moment’s break between notes. As the songs crashed into each other, the wave of one seemed to launch the other, and despite that each song BLASTED THROUGH THE SPEAKERS AT MAXIMUM VOLUME, there was an uncanny dynamic to the tunes.

What also became evident at the show is WK’s oft-ignored keyboard mastery. As he arched over those plastic ivories, he flew up and down them, snapped back and fourth, and just generally seemed like he was being electrocuted while he was playing them. Not only did he prove his perhaps maestro level of piano skill, but he conjured the sort of image that one imagines Wagner and Beethoven projected. WK wasn’t “playing” he was smashing the energy out through his hands and quickly as he could, paying equal respects to technique and raw power. What an effect!

Likewise, WK’s long-running dancer/hypeman Crenshaw Toffee. Toffee functions wonderfully next to WK. WK, between his all white clothes and Cheshire cat smile, seems to be this unworldly creature. Meanwhile, Toffee, between his khaki shorts, tank top, and decidedly non “rockstar” hair, seems to represent the everyman in WK’s manic world of non-stop partying. And yet, Toffee is not bewildered or scared by the WK lust-for-life mandate, but charged by it. On stage, he went scream for scream and party for party with WK, all while doing a non-stop, reved-up skank dance or leg twisting hoe-down jig. If anything, Toffee seems to be the avatar of the concept, “yes, you too, can do this.”

There’s a lyric by punk titan Jello Biafra that always stuck with me: “Don’t just question authority, question everything… and don’t forget to question me.” That is, Jello seems to be saying, that for a punk rocker, one’s most valuable tool is to combat trickery and fraud with one’s mind. Thinking for yourself might be the greatest virtue.

As I watched WK literally leap around stage, a wide smile welded into his face, and as I heard him call out in the name of partying and generally pay homage to the concept of positive mental attitude non-stop, I wondered if one person could really be dedicated to a message that much. Could someone really want to “party” at that intensity, all the time. Is WK’s concept of the “party” really a life empowering tool, or is it just something that sounds cool?

Well, let me tell you, as he flung around the stage, in the middle part of Pennsylvania, clothes run down, hair disheveled, throat blown out, he did not flag in energy, he did not lose that smile, he did not retreat or even pull back on the deliver of his message, and frankly, I believed him.