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Andrew W.K. Brings The Party To First Avenue

Almost 15 years after coming to Minneapolis to record their first album, Andrew W.K. and his band return to party on a Monday night at First Avenue

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How many times can I fit the word ‘party’ into this article? I have a feeling it’s going to be more than you, or even myself, is going to be comfortable with. What other treatment can I give the undoubted King of Partying, though? This is what Andrew wants, and what Andrew is going to get.

On a brisk September night in downtown Minneapolis, I get out of my car and walk up to the magnificent structure that is known simply as First Ave. While this is certainly not my first time attending a show here, it is, however, the first time I am attending a show here as a member of the ‘press’ and will be allowed to shoot pictures in front of the stage. I’m not quite sure what to expect, but I know for a fact that there is no one else in the world I would rather be covering for my first time other than undeniable King of Partying, Andrew W.K.

Mark Mallman @ First Avenue
Mark Mallman @ First Avenue – Photo Credit: Justin Bailey

After getting checked in and receiving the proper credentials, I make my way into the main room and I’m immediately taken aback. I arrived roughly 15 minutes before show time, and the room was barren. My absolute best guess would have been somewhere in the neighborhood of 100 people inside the 1,500-capacity venue. Certainly, this wasn’t the kind of reception we were going to give the unequivocal King of Partying, was it?

I must not have received the memo that everyone else got that read “The opener is going to be absolute garbage, feel free to show up at 9:00 when the undisputed King of Partying Andrew W.K. goes on.” This was unfortunate, because, although I did have the opportunity to pass three levels on Candy Crush during opener Mark Mallman’s set, it is something that I certainly wish I wouldn’t have seen at all. I would love to say more about how poor his performance was, but that would be a waste of everyone’s time.

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Photo Credit: Justin Bailey

After throwing back a few beers (this show was sponsored in part by Surly Brewing so I decided to ease the pain the opener caused me with a few Coffee Benders) I took my place at the front of the stage and awaited uncontestable King of Partying Andrew W.K.’s performance. As soon as the lights dimmed and the screen in front of the stage raised up, I quickly realized that unbeknownst to me, the crowd had grown by almost a thousand people and they were ready to rage.

As the band filed out onto the stage, with the absolute King of Partying following closely behind them, the band immediately launched into their high-energy, fine-tuned set with the crowd hanging off their every word. Having been a fan of Andrew’s music for the better part of a decade, hearing his calculated mixture of both old and new songs made this a show to remember.

Photo Credit: Justin Bailey
Photo Credit: Justin Bailey

After playing for a little over an hour, the band exits the stage and the crowd breaks out into the proverbial “one more song” chant. A few minutes pass and the band comes back out onto the stage, and everyone in the crowd expects to hear the song that launched the unquestionable King of Partying’s career, Party Hard. Knowing that this is in fact what everyone is expecting to hear, they go on to play four more songs capped off by a five minute long piano solo from Andrew.

Finally, the time comes for the end all be all party anthem. Andrew addresses the crowd, and asks if we are in fact ready to party, to which the crowd loudly exclaims “YES!” and he follows by counting down until the big moment. This isn’t a typical “start at 10” countdown though, Andrew W.K. literally starts at one hundred and counts the entire way down to one.

Photo Credit: Justin Bailey
Photo Credit: Justin Bailey

By the time Andrew got to twenty I had never seen a crowd more ready to hear a single song in my entire life. By ten, the crowd was going absolutely nuts. At five, I thought the man sitting next to me was going to have a heart attack. Four. Three. Two. One. The crowd falls silent. Then, we hear “When it’s time to party we will party hard.” and chaos falls upon First Avenue.

This was the most energetic three minutes I have ever been a part of in my life. I think I honestly blacked out for half of the song. It was incredible. Words truly can’t describe what I witnessed at First Avenue on Monday night. And then, almost as quickly as I’m going to wrap up this article, the song was over, and everyone left the stage, and it was time to leave.

Photo Credit: Justin Bailey
Photo Credit: Justin Bailey

Simply put, the next time Andrew W.K. is in town, you need to be in attendance. It is truly an experience that you need to witness in person. 10 out of 10 would recommend, and for those keeping track, I said ‘party’ eleven times.

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Written by Justin Bailey

Managing Editor & Social Media Admin for Music In Minnesota. Graduated Valedictorian of my class from IPR - College of Creative Arts with an A.A.S. in Music & Entertainment Business. ICON Award Winner. Based in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

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