Before seeing Andrew WK at SXSW I would have said that I was just a casual fan. My encounters with his music usually occurred during parties and in a drunken stupor it doesn’t get much better than “Party Hard.” I also had heard of Andrew’s on stage antics and was prepared for the crowds of people that would soon swarm the stage. This is something that the staff at Buffalo Billiards was not prepared for.
When I walked into the fun gaming hall that is Buffalo Billiards walking past the pool tables and shuffle boards to dart up the stairs to where this non stop party would take place, I noticed something odd, there were no guard rails set up. My mind quickly started to race as I wondered if they knew who was about to come on stage. I then blew it off thinking that the SXSW crowds are supposedly a lot tamer than your typical concert-going crowd. This is where Billiards and myself were wrong in underestimating the power house that is Andrew WK.
Before the show started I found a comfortable place to sit and enjoy the show just before the stage as the lights went dim. Then one at a time each member of Andrew’s new band appeared ripping out a rock melody as they head-banged in unison. Then over the PA the voice of Andrew WK emerged belting out phrases like ” Are you alive out there?” and “This isn’t a concert its a?” as the crowd quickly belted back “Party!” After a few of these crowd shout backs Andrew rushed the stage with “It’s Time To Party” the crowd erupted and Buffalo Billiards turned into a giant mosh pit, as fans quickly jumped on stage to sing along with their favorite songs. The staff at Billiards picked their jaws up off the floor and prepared for a crazy night as I searched for Angela to hold my possessions so I could join in on the fun.
One thing I did notice as I jumped around with a hundred of Andrew’s biggest fans was a sense of comradery rather than a group of people looking to do harm to their fellow concert goers because their life isn’t going the way they wanted it to. This is when Andrew took pause to tell the crowd that they should give it their all because they would remember this night for the rest of their lives. Stating that they were lucky to still be alive and quickly dedicated the next song to the people that had died as he belted out the lyrics to “Ready to Die.” This sent the crowd into a fury as the amount of crowd surfers started to increase becoming Andrew’s new best friends and back up singers. Andrew would ask each of them where they were from and then wrap his arms around their sweat-drenched bodies telling them how much he loved them.
This is where I started to see the positive speaker in Andrew come through and it was working as every face in the small bar was smiling and having the time of their lives at Andrew’s party. It was at this moment that I became more than a casual listener and a fan. Andrew had completely won me over with the love he had for his fans. Shortly after this Andrew reminded us all that this “was not a concert and it was” the crowd quickly answered back “A Party!” Andrew said “that’s right and when it’s time to party we will party hard” as he ripped into the final song of the night the crowd engulfed the stage and what I did see of Andrew was no more all I could do was hear him belt out the lyrics to “Party Hard” and laugh with excitement. This excitement was not shared by the staff a Billiards as they clambered to keep the pa system from falling into the what was left of the crowd in front of the stage. They obviously had no clue what they were in for and their naive behavior helped Andrew end the second show of his come back tour with one of the best performances I have ever seen.
There is just something about Andrew that makes you love him and I can’t imagine anyone attending an Andrew WK show and not coming out a total fan. As of now I have seen him twice the first time as I said was here and then at Rachael Ray’s SXSW Party three days later and his energy was still there and, to my surprise, turned a show at a Rachael Ray’s party into another bouncing mosh pit. If you have the chance to see Andrew this summer, jump on it and you won’t regret it.
I give the Buffalo Billiards Performance 5 ” This isn’t a concert it’s a Party” out of 5.
by Ryan Davis
photos by Angela Davis