ANDREW W.K., CASUALTIES, THE USED
Graceland, 381-3094, $15 8 p.m. Tues., June 11
SOMETHING CLICKED in the middle of this year's NHL Eastern Conference play-offs—this was maybe three games before the Carolina Hurricanes won—and I figured out how Andrew W.K. works.
The evening's pregame video montage was set to the leadoff track from W.K.'s I Get Wet, an id-soaked ditty called "It's Time to Party," throughout which Mr. Wilkes-Krier informs us that the partying hour has, indeed, arrived. Skate-clad, stick-bearing men slammed each other into the boards: fists swinging, asses falling, eyes blackening, and blood flying. And intercut with those images were shots of the crowd: fun having, beer drinking, profanity shouting, and foul protesting.
You can see it, right? Player bodychecked into the camera/fan screams through contorted face/mad scramble for the puck/crowd jumps to its feet/player blindsided, hits protective Plexiglas face first/close-up on fan talking trash by the penalty box . . . all rapid-fire shots, each of about half a second's duration. And behind all this action runs the anthemic metal noize: "It's time to party!/Say to yourselves/It's not too late/It's time to party!/In! Your! Face!" (etc., etc., ad infinitum).
And then it hit me.
W.K.'s shtick is easy to dismiss ("Andrew W.K. Adopts Staunch Pro-Party Platform" read The Onion's priceless headline), and probably rightly so. But dig, nearly all his lyrics are composed in the imperative voice, i.e., "Party Hard," "Take It Off," and "Don't Stop Livin' in the Red." In other words, gang, these are exhortations; he's encouraging us to get involved, to party till we puke right along with him, to "do it," whatever it is—but to do it as a community. (An inarticulate, gonad-driven community, but a community nonetheless.)
As one with fans who consider themselves not spectators but a living, brawling piece of the action, we're being advised to contribute to the party ('scuse me: PARTAAAY!), under penalty of taking our collective dead ass home. You can call it knuckle-dragging noise for dim-witted boys, but after nigh a decade of mewling, self-obsessed mope-metal, isn't it nice to be asked to help out?
Which is not to invest W.K.'s oeuvre with any particularly lasting quality. The tired old so-bad-it's-good cop-out avoids the issue: As Kurt Vonnegut informed us, we eventually become what we pretend to be, which is why we must be extremely careful what we pretend to be.
Or, as David St. Hubbins observed, there's a fine line between clever and stupid.