andrew-wk1Andrew W.K. is a mash-up between a professional wrestler and a rock star. All of his motions are big, barking out orders to party beneath his stringy hair in that booming, macho basso sotto that brings to mind Hulk Hogan and Jesse “The Body” Ventura. His concerts, as evidenced by his Portland appearance last week, are testosterone fests where the bro, the misunderstood, the punk, the skater and the metal head can all come together in happy unison and hurl themselves silly from the lip of the stage all the while chanting about partying.

On the so-called Party Messiah tour, which kicked off in our muggy, but usually fair city, Andrew W.K. has embarked on a solo sojourn, or more or less a karaoke version of himself. Armed with a back-up singer and keyboard, the musician was free of instrumental restraints and could concentrate on what he likes best: shouting out epithets and inciting a massive party, a party that brisked by at about 45 minutes of “live music.”

More compelling than the performance (and yes, it was super high energy and fun) was the crowd itself. Andrew W.K.’s fans are proud and there were numerous examples of “that guy,” thick-necked dudes in I Get Wet shirts or other W.K. paraphernalia. There were also girls with painted-on bloody noses, hulking guys in metal shirts and even one dude dressed up like Macho Man Randy Savage. At one point or another during the evening, examples of each of these people crowd-surfed past me and jumped off the stage.

Somehow, this “party” remained good-natured, a testament to Andrew W.K.’s ability to make uplifting, yet aggressive music. The one overzealous security grappled with a few fans, tossing them out on their asses, but besides him, the crowd partied hard with gleeful abandon. During “Ready to Die,” fan after fan climbed up and jumped off the stage and by the time “Party Hard” rolled around, it seemed like half the club was on the stage, surrounding W.K. as he tried to pound out a few notes on his keyboard.

Most of the short set was drawn from I Get Wet and Andrew W.K. isn’t really the type of artist to evolve. His shtick arrived more than a decade ago, fully formed and ready to party. The Hawthorne was thankfully nowhere near capacity since it gets stinking hot in there and the smaller crowd gave us room to dance and move around. However, the nine song setlist felt remarkably brief. After finishing with “I Get Wet,” Andrew W.K. left the stage and didn’t return for an encore, despite minutes of entreaties from the crowd. So that’s the type of party he must like: one that blows up quick and then quickly vanishes over before 11pm. What? Did you think he likes the type that lingers until dawn where we sip wine and discuss “The Wire?”

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