YouTube Live: Andrew W.K. at the Gathering of the Juggalos

YouTube Live

After the recent lineup announcement of the eleventh annual Gathering of the Juggalos in Cave-in-Rock, Illinois, now is a more appropriate time than any to take a look back at some highlights from previous years. One of the artists that performed at the 2008 edition was Andrew W.K., the singer-songwriter known for his party anthems and motivational speaking. So how well did his pro-party agenda and messages of positivity go over with the Juggalos?

Andrew W.K. (henceforth referred to as AWK) opens his set with a set of spoken word. In reference to the festival, AWK says “I heard that the Gathering of the Juggalos was a big party!” and inquires “is the Gathering a big party?” If the Gathering is, in fact, a big party, then the attendees of the party in question regard AWK as that guy who wants to fight everyone after a few drinks too many. Unfazed by jeers and bottles of every flavor of high fructose corn syrup flying in the air, AWK continues to hype the Juggalo Gathering by declaring it “the best festival I have ever been to”, and booing devolves to chants of “fuck that shit!”

According to AWK, the Gathering is about people doing whatever they want, and what they want to do here is throw bottles of discount soda pop. AWK continues to talk about growing up in Michigan and his fascination with Insane Clown Posse, even bringing a Juggalo and Juggalette onstage to share his vodka. None of his words are connecting with the crowd, including name drops of the most popular Juggalo acts and even the Clowns themselves. Anyone else would have quit after a few minutes and not soldiered on, punching flying garbage along the way, but AWK is apparently a force of nature.

The definitive moment of crowd participation comes shortly before he actually performs his first song as a can of garbage is passed over the crowd until it tips and its contents are dumped on the crowd before it ever gets the chance to injure AWK. Maybe Juggalos just don’t fancy spoken word, or at least not outside of the seminar tent? Would they prefer AWK to contribute to Juggalo persecution? Do they doubt his sincerity? Surely the mystery will be solved once he brings the tunes?

After the highly appropriate garbage incident, AWK goes into “It’s Time to Party” and tears into the song with his own unique brand of manic energy. Did the crowd just want him to shut up and play? Not at all, since he’s still dodging bottles while headbanging. Unaffected by the crowd, AWK brings the same level of intensity to “Ready to Go”, but is eventually escorted off the stage as security finally seemed to realize everything not bolted to the ground was being used as a weapon of discontent.

While AWK’s set was a disaster at the Gathering, it lives on as a compellingly bizarre and hilarious spectacle on YouTube. Was subtly manipulating the crowd for the sake of hilarity the plan all along? If Andrew W.K. really did it for the laughs, then it was a highly successful attempt at performance art for the 21st century: real life trolling. In any case, the performance shines a new light on the artist and reveals a lot about the audience watching it.


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