Andrew W.K. at the Independent, by Daniel Kielman
Andrew W.K. (Photo: by Daniel Kielman)

After a sold-out show Wednesday night, connoisseur of partying and always-nice-guy Andrew W.K. played to another enthusiastic crowd last Thursday night at the Independent.

It was the first time in over five years that he has toured with a full band, and it was a welcome return to that style of playing. I got to see him on tour a few years back where he did a solo show that was rife with energy and musical talent, but felt somewhat lacking compared to what a full band brings. The show was a vindication of sorts. While Andrew W.K. spends most of his time at the keyboard showing his piano chops (and seriously, the guy can play) whether he’s with a full band or solo, something about the support of the cast of characters on bass, drums, multiple guitars, and keys feels stronger.

Shame Waves opened and brought their own party to the show, acknowledging that they knew everyone was there to get excited for the headliner. By no means was their show not worth watching, but it’s hard to imagine who would be exactly right to get the party started for the party king himself.

When W.K. took the stage with his trademark white outfit and husky growl, the crowd was ready for him. He knows what people want, which is mostly the anthems from his debut, I Get Wet. The album has grown with fans over time, evidenced late in the show when W.K. asked the audience how many people were at their first Andrew W.K. show. A good majority of the crowd responded, showing that people are still discovering his music after all these years.

W.K. is smart enough to give the same enthusiastic energy to every song, regardless of whether it’s one of his hits or not. His band supports that energy, smiling and excited with each note. While the show definitely ebbed and flowed, the hits certainly got the crowd going, and it’s still a remarkable performance to watch. You can’t help but admire the talent of the entire band and passion for their music. It’s a nice change of pace from seeing bands staring at their pedals for half the show (that’s no knock to the Independent — their sound quality was on point as always, with every guitar solo and keyboard flourish clear and crisp).

But the party may be starting to wear a little repetitive. Andrew has been doing this for a long time now, and long-time fans can expect certain things to happen at every show — from the solo on a pizza-shaped guitar to the constant pleas for partying to the changing of the city name when he gets to “I Love NYC” (this night it was “I Love San Francisco”). Sincere as these efforts always are, it certainly makes it hard to distinguish a show from this tour from any future shows. The band has a new album coming out next year after a pretty extensive hiatus, and perhaps it has the power to bring some new hits to the set list that could add some variety to the show.

Andrew W.K. is a bona-fide performer after all these years, and he continues to be consistent. He’s worth seeing even if you’ve never heard a single song before. By the end of the night, there’s hardly any doubt one won’t be converted, wanting to go back to his debut again and again driving late at night. He strikes at a nerve that has never been needed more, and is well worth exploring and wonderful to see live. The only hope is that there is more to come in the future. One doesn’t want to sound greedy asking more from a man who already gives everything he can, but if there’s more where that came from, then I can’t wait to see what he has in store next time.