Pruning next month’s concert calendar for the not-to-be-missed

Andrew W.K. (3/6 at Regency Ballroom · Tickets)

PARTY TIP: Get wasted tonight.

In case you didn’t know what Andrew W.K. is all about, it’s partying. The above tip is one of over six thousand such gems that make up the New York City artist’s epically party-oriented twitter feed.

These days, the hard rock Dionysus is harping on a more specific string of parties: his upcoming tour, in which he’ll be revisiting his incomparably ecstatic debut album, I Get Wet, in full.

While much of the fervor for Andrew W.K.’s ingeniously simplistic songwriting rests squarely on the border between earnestness and irony, there is no denying that the status of I Get Wet has risen more than anyone could have guessed at the time of its 2002 release. During hard times, pure, unbridled entertainment like this takes on extra importance.

Andrew W.K., a motivational speaker as well as a musician and nightclub owner, is well aware of his music’s function, and he milks it like no one else could. I Get Wet singles “It’s Time to Party,” “Party Hard” and “Party Til You Puke” are basically raunchier reprisals of the sentiment in Kiss’ “Rock and Roll All Night,” amplified to incomprehensibly joyous extremes with chugging pop-punk power chords, hyper-masculine shouting and big ska brass.

The idea is that partying (hard) is not just pleasure-seeking but also an act of rebellion, even protest, against the daily grind (unless that grind is partying, a state of affairs Andrew W.K. has successfully accomplished for himself), power-trippers and death-fearers. So quit touching yourself all alone; it’s time to party (“Open your mouth, we’re all gonna come … in your face!”) Yeah.

If you can stomach this degree of retarded bliss, hyperbolically pro-life joy and a healthy bit of screaming, then you should really participate in, or at least witness, this concert. It’s gonna be a party.

Radiohead (4/11 at HP Pavilion, San Jose · Sold Out – start Craigslisting!)

Radiohead is not as concrete as it once was. Even through their second most recent album, In Rainbows, the band was a veritable alt rock tank, plowing forward into new musical spaces. Now, it’s more as if its members have hopped out of the armored vehicle and begun foraging the fringes of the space already cleared.

To put things more literally, Radiohead’s members have a lot of their own things going on. Drummer Phil Selway released a solo debut, Johnny Greenwood is busy scoring P.T. Anderson’s films, and on an off Wednesday night, it is no longer a surprise to find Thom Yorke DJing at an East L.A. hip-hop club. Radiohead itself seems secondary – an excuse for old mates to jam.

At least, that is exactly how Radiohead’s latest album, The King of Limbs, sounded. Clocking in at 37 minutes, it is a humble record compared to the group’s past behemoths, unfussed with anything like the epic tragedy of OK Computer, experimental heft of Kid A or compositional grand scale of In Rainbows.

The songs sound sparse, but would be better described as demonstrating a mature comfort with negative space – something of which younger bands seem truly terrified, if the pervasive synth swaddling is an indication. But then, few other artists have recourse to a voice like Thom Yorke’s, which fearlessly takes the center spotlight on The King of Limbs tracks like the gorgeously intimate “Give Up the Ghost.”

Yorke’s turn to DJing asserts itself heavily on numbers like “Bloom” and “Feral,” which add and weave samples over odd time signatures, to a trance-like effect. These songs have a great deal to offer, but require a cooler, more intellectual engagement than Radiohead has hitherto asked of its listeners. “Lotus Flower,” with a video (above) in which the standoffish Yorke gives Beyonce a run for her money, offers the only significant morsel of pop on the album.

This must be what graceful aging looks like in a band. The emotional throes that brought Radiohead to fame have mellowed, but The King of Limbs is not the doldrums; the tank has been evacuated, but the experimental push continues on foot.

Radiohead is probably content with the fan base it has got. The quiet, at times challenging nature of their last album may even be viewed as an attempt to prune it somewhat (alienating the fans who continue to beg for “Creep” at concerts would not be a tragedy for the band, I am guessing). What the fans will flock to HP Pavilion for and what they will receive, then, may not perfectly align. No matter; the live setting is the perfect place for the virtues of The King of Limbs – DJ-style building and Yorke’s vocal presence – to emerge.

Girls (3/1 at Cocoanut Grove Ballroom, Santa Cruz · Tickets)
Perfume Genius (3/21 at Café du Nord · Tickets)

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