Andrew W.K.: Great. The Ramones: Great. Andrew W.K. singing Ramones songs with Marky Ramone on the drums: Epic.
When I found out that Andrew W.K. was going to be the vocalist for Marky Ramone’s Blitzkrieg, a band that performs over 30 Ramones songs in one night, I had no choice but to go. The icing on the cake? The show was in New York City! Just like Andrew, I love New York City! Iconic musicians, legendary songs, one of the greatest music cities in the world. This was no doubt a rock n’ roll experience that I knew would blow me away.
I arrived at Grand Central and after a much needed trip to Trash & Vaudeville, as well as a cup of local coffee, I was on my way to Santos Party House. It’s a concert hall and dance club co-owned by none other than Mr. Andrew W.K. himself! Playing in New York City at his very own club for this special gig must have been a dream come true for him!
When I interviewed Andrew W.K. recently, he described the music of The Ramones as: “amazing melodies, fantastic riffs and drum beats, and just really joyful, beautiful, beautiful music.” He said that the music of The Ramones makes him feel “like you’re standing on top of a mountain with your arms raised in the air, that you’re going down a roller coaster on the last day of school with the girl of your dreams, or boy, or person of your dreams, whatever it may be and just that there’s unlimited possibility and excitement and you see the world for what it truly is, which is a miraculous adventure that we get to be on.” In regards to having this opportunity, he said “getting to be around that and inside of that music is one of the greatest privileges I’ve had. I mean, I can’t believe it. I feel very humbled and extraordinarily grateful.”.
Once I made my way into the venue, I immediately fell in love with the atmosphere of the concert hall. It was a perfect sized stage where you would be able to see every facial expression made on stage, but still enough room for the band members to rock out freely. I’ve put some thought into it lately and I consider Andrew W.K. to be “The Freddie Mercury of Small Venues And Clubs”. Here’s what I mean by that: Freddie Mercury is, without a doubt, the greatest frontman of all time. His strengths involved the fact that he could perform on giant stages in huge venues to hundreds upon thousands of people, and when he did, he would have every person in that venue watching his every move, singing along to every song, and repeating his famous vocal warmups (Ayyyyyyyy Oh!). Andrew W.K.’s greatest strength comes from playing in small venues and clubs because of how he capitalizes on the environment. He’s going to make sure that every person in attendance is dancing and headbanging. He’ll shake hands with people in the front row. And best of all, he is totally cool with fans jumping up on stage and singing along with him. Unfortunately, I did not get to go to any concerts in the 70’s or 80’s, but seeing Andrew W.K., especially at this venue and with this band, made me feel like I stepped into a time machine.
I found a comfortable spot right in the middle of the standing area. What made me really happy before the concert even started was how over the speakers, classic 1960’s doo wop and rock and roll music was playing, ranging from Blue Moon to Wooly Bully. The highlight was the guy nearby me wearing a Hawaiian shirt (Huge props to him for wearing one, by the way, I haven’t seen one in ages), who was singing and dancing to every song playing. He reminded me of Jeff Spicoli.
Once the tunes stopped and the lights dimmed, I was getting more and more amped. Before the guys even got on stage, the 90 second adrenaline rush, also known as “It’s Time To Party” played over the speakers, with myself and others singing along. The guitarist and bassist then hit the stage. (I know one of their names is Mark Neuman, but I am not sure who the other one is. I would like to know because the four band members went together like pasta and Marky Ramone’s sauce) Marky then walked on stage to a loud ovation from rockers, both young and old. With a drummer, bassist, and guitarist, the singer, Andrew W.K. made his way to the stage. From the first note of the first song, along with the first “1-2-3-4!”, I felt the positive vibes of such an authentic concert experience. Everything just clicked quicker than a computer mouse. The first song of the night, “Rockaway Beach”, got the crowd going, and Andrew was right. The Ramones truly DO have amazing melodies. Even when they played Ramones songs that I was unfamiliar with, all I had to do was hear the chorus one time and I was singing along right on cue! I am so glad that I was introduced to some wonderful Ramones songs that I had never heard before. Songs like “I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend”, “I Don’t Wanna Walk Around With You”, and “She’s The One” left me excited and wanting more. I was thrilled when they played “Sheena Is A Punk Rocker”, my favorite Ramones song early on in the night. During this song was when I felt the crowd getting rowdier and rowdier. This ranges from the fans jumping up on stage to sing and dance to those who dove off the stage and were lifted around by the fans.
There were a couple of things that I was extremely pleased with throughout the night. First of all, Marky Ramone is a fantastic drummer. He was virtually flawless and had such an amazing technique that reminded me of Buddy Rich. He seems like such a cool, calm, and collected guy, who had a big smile on his face and acknowledged the crowd when they chanted “Marky! Marky!” Also, there is a point to be made about Andrew W.K. as the frontman for this very band. You might be wondering to yourself if he was a Joey Ramone or if he was a Joey Tribbiani. From what I saw tonight, I am, without a doubt, going with the first option. There were times throughout the night that I forgot that Andrew W.K. was on stage and when I looked into his eyes, I felt like I was staring into the spirit of Joey Ramone. There was no keyboard and there were no songs off of “I Get Wet”, but Andrew W.K. was there with his infinite charisma and immortal stage presence. If Joey Ramone was watching Andrew W.K. perform, I bet he would shake his hand and most likely buy him a shot after the show.
The night rolled on with many more Ramones hits such as “Beat On The Brat”, “I Wanna Be Sedated”, “Pet Sematary”, “Rock ‘N’ Roll High School”, “The KKK Took My Baby Away”, and quite a few others as well. The band thanked the crowd for coming and abruptly left the stage. We knew that that wasn’t it. Aside from the standard clapping in regards to requesting an encore, fans in the crowd began to chant “Hey! Ho! Let’s Go!”, the historic chorus to “Blitzkrieg Bop”. The guys came on stage for a few more songs, but they left again! There was more clapping. There was more chanting. Once back on stage, the biggest surprise of the night, in my opinion, came. Right before the final song of the evening, the band tuned up for “What A Wonderful World”, the Louis Armstrong original, then covered by Joey Ramone on his 2002 posthumous release, Don’t Worry About Me. It was such a delight for them to play this song. I honestly feel that along with Johnny Cash’s “Hurt”, this is the greatest cover song of all time, as well as one of my all time favorite songs. Once that song was over, the “Hey”s and the “Ho”s and the “Let’s Go!”s finally paid off. Marky Ramone’s Blitzkrieg played “Blitzkrieg Bop” to a packed, sold out, house.
I thought that the party would be over once they left the stage for the final time, but no way, you are quite wrong, my friend. I was getting ready to turn around and walk outside when all of a sudden, “When it’s time to party, we will party hard” echoed over the speakers and Andrew W.K.’s signature song, “Party Hard” began to play. This gave everyone in attendance a second wind as people were singing along, dancing, and moshing. I am so thrilled to not just have had the Andrew W.K. experience, not just the New York City experience, but also the Marky Ramone’s Blitzkrieg experience. I mean it when I say this, this was one of the greatest concerts that I have ever been to. This was the first show with this new line up, but fear not, the band will be appearing in New York City once again, this time at Irving Plaza on October 3rd. I am highly recommending that you (yes, you, the person reading this) go see them as soon as you get the chance to. Hey! Ho! You Go!