Last Night Andrew WK Saved My Life

There was something about Andrew WK’s sincerity last night at the show in Brooklyn that made even the most jaded, ironic CMJ-badgified hipster drop the pretense for a moment, pump his fist in the air and jump up and down like a maniac. And there’s something about Andrew WK that makes people want to throw themselves at him for big, manly, sweaty hugs — and damn that guy can hug. Between gravity-defying scissor kicks and heartfelt motivational speeches, he hugged everybody who jumped up on stage — the 15-year-old punk kids from the ‘burbs with studded leather jackets and foot-tall pink mohawks, the cute mini-Joan-Jett rocker grrl, the kid who looked about 8, the overtestosteroned jocky looking dudes. To Andrew, everybody there was there to be hugged. No one in music hugs better, with the exception of maybe Damo Suzuki. (hugging Damo, as I did at a show once, is a bit like hugging Cousin It — though I must say that’s a nice-smelling shampoo he’s using.)

And my god I haven’t seen that many people throw themselves on stage at a performer since I saw Morrissey play sometime in the mid-90s. And there’s something well, kinda Morrissey about Mr. WK. Dig the electric way he connects with his followers, the stately eloquence and pathos of the lyrics (what could be more beautiful and sad than ‘We want fun and we wanna get wasted’?) and the sort of outsider mentality (‘no one understands me except Moz/Andrew WK’), all essential elements to this unbeatable formula. Oh go on, believe! But when Morrissey, flighty bastard he was, sullenly pranced off stage in a huff midway thru ‘Shoplifters of the World Unite’ because too many people were throwing themselves on stage to hug him, Andrew WK protected the nutty fans who jumped on stage and steered them away from the angry security guard with his knowing embrace, like a big benevolent bear.

After Joan Jett played her scorching set (it was an Andrew WK/Joan Jett double bill — be still my beating heart), and I’d left, gone to a party or two and then given up to go home, I got a call from my friend Chris. “Hey I’m at a bar downtown with Andrew’s guitarist — want to stop by?” Nah, I said, I was too exhausted. “I was in Andrew’s tourbus for an hour after the show,” he said through the cell-phone-crackle. “I think Andrew’s still over there at the venue signing each and every autograph. We couldn’t get him to go out and drink a beer. He’s too serious about his band, man.” I laughed. Andrew WK, so devoted to his fans that he didn’t even have the time to party hard. The hardest-working man in show-biz. Or at least, the most sweaty.