I’m behind on concert reviews so I might as well start with the most recent. On Saturday night I hit up the Black Cat to see Andrew W.K. for the first time since 2002 or thereabouts (I have vague memories of seeing half of AWK’s set at Warped Tour in Colorado when I was on summer break from college, but I forget which year). I haven’t picked up any of his albums since I Get Wet (which I still love) but when I saw his show pop up on my Songkick app I grabbed tickets since I’ve always wanted to see him do a proper set after the Warped Tour experience.
Fast forward to a week before the show when I realized that the concert in question isn’t a normal Andrew W.K. show. Oh, no. It’s the official concert of Awesome Con, a DC-area comic con in its second year. Perhaps this should have been more obvious when my tickets said “Awesome Con-cert featuring Andrew W.K.” but 1) I didn’t know what Awesome Con was and 2) If anyone was going to give their concert a weird name like that, it would clearly be Andrew W.K. So this was clearly going to be more interesting than originally anticipated.
I nabbed my normal spot at BC and looked out for people in costumes. Sadly I only saw a Spiderman and Superman. More costumes would pop up throughout the evening (mark this as the first time that I’ve seen 1) someone in a horse mask stage dive and 2) a guy in a chicken suit crowd surf). Baltimore’s Rare Candy opened with “video game inspired tunes” per the BC website. It was pretty awesome. No singing. Just metal-ish renditions of video game songs, most of which I didn’t recognize other than the storming the castle music from Super Mario World and a few songs from Zelda games. Also, their drummer was dressed like the yellow Pokemon.
The MCs for the night were the guys who run Super Art Fight (something I was previously unaware of but am now very intrigued by). Up next was “nerd-core” act Adam Warrock. Turns out nerd-core is rapping about, well…nerdy things. One of the first songs was intro’d with something I never thought I’d hear at a concert: “How many people here like playing Pokemon?” Early tunes in the set included “Magneto Was Right” and “Kingslayer,” which at least were nerdy references that I understood. I’m still perplexed by all the Pokemon stuff from the evening – seriously, this is still a thing? I had no idea. After the fourth nerdy rap I couldn’t take it anymore. I sat down off to the side of the stage and caught up on some reading on my iPhone. I wish I had that hour of my life back.
Once that bizarre experience was over the crowd got amp’d up for Andrew W.K. This involved a lot of chanting of “Party! Party! Party!” Sadly it wasn’t a full band show, but luckily Andrew W.K. with just a keyboard and a backing track is still more amusing to watch than most live acts. He had a buddy on stage helping with vocals (and generally dancing around enthusiastically). It took all of two songs before the BC was a full on shitshow. Seriously, I go to a lot of concerts here. Specifically, I go to a lot of punk concerts here. I have never seen so much insanity. Beers thrown everywhere. Crowd surfing and stage diving galore. People jumping onto stage, giving AWK a high five, and running off stage. It was amazing to watch and just…happy. It was one of the happiest sets I’ve ever seen. Energy through the roof. He saved “Party Hard*” for his second to last song, in which people went even more insane. Then said, “Let’s do a countdown for the last song” and started with 95. And I’ll be damned if the whole crowd didn’t enthusiastically countdown to 1 from 95.
Despite the persistent chanting of “Party! Party! Party!” AWK did not return for an encore.
Nerd rapper aside, the evening was entertaining enough that I might have to go people watch at the actually comic con next year.
*If I ever make the jump from air guitar competition fan to air guitar competition participant, this will be the song I perform to.
At the beginning of the month I drove down to Richmond to catch Weezer at the National with a cadre of fellow Weezer Cruisers from the DC area and Pennsylvania. Thanks to the generosity of another Weezer Cruiser and Rivers, we all got VIP passes to hang out with Rivers after the show, which was amazing. But we’ll get to that.
The Last Internationale opened. I’d never heard of them before but they were good. It’s Brad Wilk’s new band (drummer of Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave). His drumming in this setup seemed more simplistic compared to Rage but it was still very powerful. The female on lead vocals and bass had a great voice. The lyrics and titles of the songs were as political as you would expect with someone from Rage in the band, i.e. “Workers of the World Unite!” and such.
Weezer kicked things off with “My Name Is Jonas” (one of their go to opening songs along with “Hash Pipe” and “Memories” – both of which they’d play later in the set). I got to Richmond early enough that we were right up in the front. Other than the theater shows on both of the cruises, this was the smallest venue I’d ever seen Weezer play in, which was a cool experience. I love the National as a venue. If it wasn’t two hours away I’d go more often.
The boys were on point, delivering a hits-heavy set with some special treats thrown in like Scott singing “Dope Nose” and Pat singing “Photograph” and a cover of “Song 2” (which I’d heard bootlegs of but never seen live) while Rivers took over for him on the drums. Weezer has been picking a different song each night to have the audience film. This show’s song was “Surf Wax America” which you can check out here. They are using an app that mashes up everyone’s video into one video, which is neat. My phone was almost dead otherwise I would have joined in.
Weezer busted out their new song “Back to the Shack,” which I enjoy more each time I hear it. About halfway through the set we noticed Rivers’ son rocking out on the side of the stage with his ukulele. I’m not a big kids person, but it was adorable. He was just jamming on stage with his dad, making the devil horns hand symbol to the crowd and trying to get further and further onto the stage with his mother occasionally pulling him back closer to the side. He can’t be more than three years old and he already has great stage presence.
They ended a two-song encore with a great rendition of “Buddy Holly” before everyone in the band joining Pat on the drums for a percussion jam session to round out the show.
After the show, we headed upstairs to meet with Rivers. I’ve met him several times now and this was the most relaxed he’s been. We chatted for a good 40 minutes about the new album, his kids, how we became Weezer fans, the cruise, and lots of other stuff. It was an awesome experience, other than the drive home to DC at 12:30am. Thank God for 24-hr Wawas to late night road trips.