artist of the day #33: Andrew WK

What’s white and white with sweat all over? Done guessing? It’s Andrew W.K. and he is here to PARTY! One of the more peculiar musical acts one could come across, I just saw him perform earlier this evening with a 4-piece string quartet. This completes him as being the musician I have seen with the most variety in who he shares a stage with, though it’s a close call with Beck. Aside from this string ensemble, I have seen Mr. W.K. play with a seven (or more) person rock band that had no less than 3 guitarists, and I have seen him take over a venue with nothing more than his Reebok powered jump kicks and a keyboard all by himself. He is a force to be reckoned with, but chances are you will never have to reckon with him because he might just be the nicest guy on the planet.

Being that I have more street cred talking about the visual realm of art, I want to discuss that aspect of Andrew’s work first. There is a certain aesthetic to his work that is not easily understood. He wears what is essentially a uniform, white shirt, white jeans, white running shoes. At the show, I overheard him talking to another fan and they were discussing his choice of footwear. He was saying that his goal is to wear the least empowering shoes he could find, to have the absence of style. Much of his album art seems to have a similar vibe to it. Much of it borders on being almost uncomfortably without style. I think perhaps he wants to make himself more approachable, for what his songs make lack in musical prowess, they make up for with his positive energy. He is perhaps best known for having “party” themed songs because that is what he wants life to be for everybody, he wants everybody to have a good time.

I know he is certainly not the first “rock” artist to perform with classically trained concert musicians, but he is the first I have come across that tried to do things their way as well. It was not just Andrew W.K. with the quartet playing Andrew W.K. songs, the five of them together conquered songs composed by Bach, Glass, Christine Southworth, and the father of the experimental, John Cage. They did throw a few of AWK’s songs in there, but it was a small chunk of the performance. I have no background or formal training in music, so I am not sure what else to say. And with an artist like Andrew, I find it even more difficult because I can’t even think of someone to compare him to. He is a unique performer to say the least. If you really have any questions about him, you could probably go see him and hang out afterwards and he would be happy to talk to you. I have seen him a number of times and he has hung out afterwards almost every time. This past show he drew some stuff in my sketchbook and signed my friends passport. If only Andrew W.K. was a country, it would be the party capital of the planet.