When it’s time to we will always party hard.
That was party rocker Andrew W.K.’s thesis statement 10 years ago on his debut album “I Get Wet,” and it was strong enough that a decade later he is still revered as a party god, doling out daily party tips to the next generation of partiers on Twitter. W.K. was at Saint Andrew’s Hall in Detroit Saturdy as part of “I Get Wet’s” 10-year-anniversary tour, and the reaction from the crowd was as strong as ever; it’s clear “I Get Wet” has been passed down from college class to college class as a kind of manifest on how to have a good time. It’s the Dead Sea Scrolls of party rock.
Nowadays party rock is alive and well, with artists like LMFAO and Ke$ha making a living on the who-cares-lets-party set. There’s a generation of kids coming out of college now who are broke and have no job prospects, but they’re young and they still want to have a good time. Enter the party rock mentality, which W.K. put into action 10 years ago. So now is not only an appropriate time to celebrate “I Get Wet,” it’s a good excuse for W.K. to remind everyone he was partying til he was puking when Ke$ha was watching “The O.C.” in her bedroom (and, to be fair, probably also partying until she was puking).
W.K. has always been about bombast, a birthday party within a Super Bowl within a New Year’s Eve bash. Saturday at Saint Andrew’s, he packed the stage with a wall of guitarists; his wife, Cherie Lily, who was dressed in full aerobics instructor regalia; his drummer; and himself, dressed in his trademark white-on-white, headbanging and flailing his limbs like a psychotic third base coach. The stage itself was a party, the embodiment of W.K.’s music, so the crowd had no choice but to follow suit.
W.K. kicked the show off with “I Get Wet’s” opener, “It’s Time to Party,” and he proceeded to roll through “I Get Wet” in its entirety, in sequence. The songs on “I Get Wet” are all built from the same party chords and seemingly the same party lyrics, but the songs work, eliciting a non-stop vibe of pure fun and celebration. And the crowd erupted at each subsequent song, like each was another verse from W.K.’s party bible. Fans flooded the stage for nearly every song, and W.K. wrapped his long arms around the crowd members — dudes and ladies, but mostly dudes — and let them sing along with him. It was a party, everyone was invited, and there were no rules.
Midway through the show, the Ann Arbor native altered “I Love NYC” to “I love the Motor City,” and he thanked Michigan for turning him into the party animal he’s become. But in a sense, the party transcends even W.K. himself, and he almost doesn’t even have to be there for it to continue. It’s almost surprising there aren’t multiple W.K.’s making their way around the country at any given time, throwing “I Get Wet” parties all over the U.S., like a party rock version of the Blue Man Group. At this point, W.K.’s party transcends even himself. (At several points the crowd started chanting, “U! S! A!” which, why not?)
Alas, the party had to eventually come to an end, and the show started to dry up after “I Get Wet” hit its close. W.K. and his band played for another 35 minutes, performing songs from “I Get Wet’s” follow-up, “The Wolf,” along with at least one new song, but the show never recaptured the same energy as it had during “I Get Wet.” W.K.’s post-”I Get Wet” career has been baffling — his oddball 2006 album “Close Calls With Brick Walls” wasn’t released in the U.S. until 2010 — and he never captured lightning in a bottle the same way he did with his debut. But “I Get Wet” continues to endure, and if Saturday proved anything, it’s that the album has earned its place in party rock history. Don’t be surprised if we’re still celebrating its existence for years to come.