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June 14, 2024

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A Night In The Life Of Andrew W.K.
Live at the Roseland (Portland, Oregon)

By: Chica Lishis

Often, as I languish in my boudoir, dreaming of new uses for old boyfriends, I amuse myself by counting my ever so abundant blessings. I'm beautiful, I'm rich beyond my wildest dreams, all God's creatures worship me, and I have absolutely no grasp on that pesky downer the kids these days are calling "reality". Such an inconvenient concept: Reality. According to a very undumb acquaintance of mine, it forces one to see facts and matters about oneself as they really are! The whole idea is so absurd that I bubble over with mirth at the very suggestion that people, like, people you may know(!), actually live their lives according to this concept, and don't choose to reinvent themselves and create their world to suit their own base wants and desires. Isn't that just the craziest!

Well, my new best friend, Andrew W.K. is not at all one of those unfortunate souls! He has created a party of Rockrollean proportions, and he's taking that shit on the road! With two free tiks snug in my back pocket, and a bud of weed tucked behind my ear, I descended upon the Roseland last week to witness the debauchery.

Upon arrival at the show, those happy-go-lucky security folks was frisking away at the line of attendees. Why, pray tell, do us ladies of the nightlife have to be frisked by femme-bot security? There was just the cutest curly-haired man-child feeling the boys up, but when I requested his services for the obligatory shakedown, I was denied access by my assigned missus with a curt shake of the head. Oh, she was nice looking and all, but she didn't have the chops to make the feel-'ya-up feel-'ya-down part of the evening a pleasurable experience. Honestly! If they are running their hands over my body, the least they can do is make an effort at titillation. At a minimum, lets consider some cylinder shaped accessories next time, shall we?

As my date, Hugh New! and I made our way up to the big kids drinking and debauchery gallery, the required age identification cards were produced. I swear to gawd, Hugh told me he was 25, but the checker-of-all-things age related questioned his photo ID, and when my darling date could not produce a second proof of legitimacy from his rather thin wallet (was he thinking I was going to be buying all the drinks?), he was banished to the kiddie floor to sip plain 'ole sodie pop and stand around staring stupidly at the stage. Of course, I was shocked, but in retrospect, his, uh-- stamina should have raised a question or two in my mind.

Nestled upstairs (well, I certainly wasn't going to hang out in "dry town") with a beer in one hand and a lit cigarette in another, I was breathless with anticipation (or possibly, the stair climbing), awaiting Andrew W.K., or as those of us in the "business" call him, AWK. I only had to wait a mere hour and a half, through two sets of fair-to-middlin' punk, until the AWK banner was unfurled and the man himself blew on to the stage.

Now, let me draw you a picture of the scene.

Okay-- that's not really working. How 'bout I describe it with words instead.

That infamous album cover of AWK, bleeding from the nasal region, is a 20-foot drapery behind the drum kit. The drummer is dwarfed by the image of his rocker boss into insignificance. Five men line the front of the stage; all appear to be tall in stature and long in hair. Whoops. No. I take that back. Two are very short in hair, but the other three have so goddamn much of it, you are left with the impression that everyone on stage is a bristled beast. AWK is dead center of the stage, hunched half-way over his microphone, hair thrown in front of his face so that it's longest wisps are brushing the floor, screaming "Are you ready to PARTY?" Well, you don't have to be a brain-genius to know that the polite response on your part is to rip off your shirt and howl "Fuck YEAH!" (Note to self: next time, wear bra). I think the set started with "It's Time To Party". Or maybe it was "Party Til You Puke". Wait a minute, I'm pretty sure it was "Party Hard". Ah hell, it was something 'bout partying. It was loud, it was repetitive, it was jangly and jumpin' and made 'ya think back to a simpler time of riverside keggers and tube tops and roach clips worn in your hair. And it just kept coming.

I'll tell 'ya this about Andrew W.K., he can't dance, he can't sing, he can't dress, but he can sure charm the pants off 'ya (Note to self: next time, wear panties). At the completion of each song, he beams down at the mass of bodies in front of him and claps and cheers with them! As if he too is rather surprised that he got all the words right, and is darn proud of himself for finishing in record time. Often he performs what appears to be an epileptic version of a movie clich? Indian rain dance. Throwing his hair in front of him, kicking his feet up can-can style, he takes giant leaps around the stage, while beating his hands together way above his head. All this goodwill beaming from his dried-blood-free face had fans clamoring up one another's bodies to get onto the stage. This instigated the pat over-the-top response from Security. You know the one, "I'm gonna kill you mother-fuckers for even thinking you was gonna be havin' a good time on MY WATCH!" But Andrew W.K. threw his arm around the first fan, and waved away the security guy, setting a precedent for those who followed. Boy howdy did they follow! At one point, there appeared to be more people on stage than in the audience. I lost sight of the band members amongst the crowd and couldn't distinguish who had control over the mikes although the lyrics kept coming through loud and clear. This situation gave birth to a strange game of strategy between the fans who had conquered the stage summit and Security. The few precious moments between one song's ending and another's beginning was the only chance the men in the blue shirts had to snag an uppity crowd member and hustle 'em off to the obscurity of the masses. But not before Andrew politely shook said crowd member's hand and thanked them for coming. If a fan was wily enough and could avoid capture until the next song started, he was safe to stay on stage until the final strains of that particular ditty, when the unusual game of tag with "The Man" resumed once again. All's fair in love and fame.

In this time of national crisis, when ordinary folks are filled with fear and suspicion (at least, that's what I've been told by scolding persons claiming to be Jews for Jesus on the streets of our downtown metropolis - frankly, my life's been flying by quite pleasantly), is it any wonder that when a shining image comes along of a long-haired party freak, it is embraced by our pop-culture as a savior of raunchy revels? Or was it just me, embracing Andrew W.K. in the back of his tour bus after the show? Aw hell, who's keeping track of such things? All I know is that AWK has created his own reality of The Party, and I was damn happy to join in.

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