'Round about 2002-3, Andrew WK made a noble attempt to rescue the word "party" from thick-necked mooks in much the same way gays rescued "queer" from bigots. And in many ways he pulled it off, spearheading an unironic embrace of good old-fashioned Chuck E. Cheese-meets-Harpo's Fun (capitalization emphasized). This DVD offers evidence of the open-armed, shout-along, big-hearted, volume-turned-up-to-11 sweatfest that was the evangelical core of WK's parties, er, concerts. It feels like the energy of a first-grader's birthday party colliding with an 11th-grader's house bash when his folks have split to visit Grandpa in Sarasota for the week. Of course, you should probably throw in hints of a religious tent revival and a fascist rally (both in a good way, natch) to make the comparison complete.
Who Knows? captures much of the spirit of the WK experience without having to feel the floor shake beneath you (but also without the benefit of being in a crowd at an erstwhile "metal" show where everyone's all smiles and women can dance safely on stage as the band and its leader are lost in a giddy bum's-rush crowd).
In this DVD's 16 jams covering four years of performance and archival footage, we're treated to grinning children rocking along onstage with WK and company; we witness that rare spectacle of death metal shredders actually having a fun and noncombative good time (WK's band is comprised of just such pit-hardened ax-wielders). In slow-mo, pitched-down voiceover, WK's philosophy and recollections of the road to success, and the crazy-crazy times that were 2002-3, are unspooled between live jam segments featuring cheez-factor maximum video FX. Thing is, even though the effects are set for "dumb," they work so naturally with the exuberance and good-time pathos of WK and co. and they're so expertly done that it's, well, damn near artful.
At the end of the day, you've got to either be a WK believer, a closet believer or know someone who's on the fence to truly get maximum kicks from this document, but if you're any of the preceding, lace up the high tops, break out the white tee and pants combo and admit that it's pretty much always time to party.
Chris Handyside writes about music for the Metro Times. E-Mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
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