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Andrew W.K. is the perfect SXSW 2018 ambassador

Bryan Rolli

Andrew W.K. needed to go back.

How far back? Alllll the way back, to the dawn of time — actually, just back to the dawn of partying, to prove to the party gods that he and everybody else in Container Bar on Friday afternoon were fit to throw a South by Southwest rager that could be heard from Valhalla. Or at least from Trinity Street.

In many ways, Andrew W.K. is the perfect ambassador for SXSW. The long-haired, muscle-bound singer has refused to change his sound one iota since releasing his debut album “I Get Wet” — the glam-punk tour de force featuring punch-drunk power pop anthems such as “Ready to Die” and “Party Hard” — 17 years ago. He preaches, in elementary terms, the necessities of living life to the fullest and partying, hard, at any cost, all to the tune of gonzo drums and steel-slab guitar riffs. Basically, he’s the aural equivalent of the man who pushed through the mosh pit carrying a two-pound tub of whey protein and holding a protein bar between his clenched teeth.

Why this man deemed a Friday afternoon at a packed Rainey Street bar to be his ideal anabolic window is beyond me. Then again, Andrew W.K.’s set posed far more questions than it answered, including but not limited to:

  • Why does Andrew W.K. look like Glenn Danzig but sing like Don Dokken?
  • Why does Andrew W.K. have three guitarists who all play identical power chords?
  • Why did Andrew W.K. decide to count down from 93 before playing his final song, “Party Hard”?
  • Does Andrew W.K. buy intentionally dusty-looking white jeans and t-shirts, or did he just sweat through his clothes and not change them all week?
  • Is the second verse of “She Is Beautiful” — “You’re giving me moves that hit from all sides / And when you’re hitting like that you melt my eyes” — the most romantic couplet of all time?

The answers to these great mysteries still eluded me as I exited Container Bar after Andrew W.K.’s set, and I don’t suspect I’ll crack the code on them anytime soon. But I believed the singer wholeheartedly when he told the audience, “This is our fifth party at this year’s festival, and you’ve already outdone all of the other parties combined.”


As he left the stage, Andrew W.K. told his fans, “Thank you, stay strong, and never stop partying.” On behalf of everybody at Container Bar on Friday afternoon, I’d like to respond: “You’re very welcome, we most certainly will, and we most certainly won’t.”