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Girl Talk with Max Tundra

The Fillmore

Miami Beach, FL
May 19, 2011

For his first South Florida performance in two years, Girl Talk graduated from the intimate and now defunct Studio A to the spacious 2,000- plus capacity of The Fillmore Miami Beach. In an attempt to maintain the epic reputation of his famed and ever evolving live shows, the DJ played a two-night set at the legendary Miami music hall.

First in the show’s line-up was British multi-instrumentalist Max Tundra, whose short 20-minute set was characterized by a strange assortment of instruments used to emit his ’80s infused, bass heavy rhythms. The bulk of his performance consisted of distinctive covers of Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” and Daft Punk’s “Digital Love,” rendered nearly unrecognizable under Nintendo- like beats and his high pitched crooning. Acting simultaneously as singer, hype man and erratic dancer, those sufficiently drunk enough mimicked his flailing dance moves and cheered him on while others settled for polite applause at the end of each song. With a bizarre, electronic rendition of the Sound of Music’s “So Long, Farewell,” Max Tundra bowed out of his first Miami performance.

As Tundra left the stage, roadies assembled the lone tools needed for the rest of the show: a table and laptop covered in saran wrap, a precaution to the imminent assault of sweat. It initially seemed doubtful that Gregg Gillis, the name behind the moniker Girl Talk, would be able to singlehandedly work the sizable crowd into a frenzy, given that he lacked a backing band or any instruments for that matter. All doubts were soon erased as the lights dimmed and the curtain dropped to reveal a towering LCD screen that surprised the crowd with trippy gleaming graphics.

The majority of songs played didn’t follow the patterns on released albums, but served as new verses layered on familiar songs and new mixes created in real time.

An initially distorted sound blasted through the speakers and steadily morphed into a shout of “Girl Talk! Girl Talk!” that spread through the theater as Gillis emerged from backstage in full on athlete mode replete with hoodie, sweatpants and headband. Standing atop the lone table on the stage, he waved his hands in the air and exclaimed to the clamorous crowd “Fillmore people, we feeling alive tonight?! Front row, back row, can we do this right now?”

The audience’s response was deafening, as was the beginning pulse of Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs,” punctuated by strobe lights before a Ludacris verse had everyone singing along to “Move Bitch.” Less than two minutes into “Oh No,” the leading track off his latest album All Day, roadies burst onto the stage carrying leaf blowers, covering the crowd in layers of toilet paper, a customary ritual at every Girl Talk show. The traditions continued when seconds after, the stage was invaded by more than thirty fans all frantically dancing and adding to the extravagant production. The allure of a Girl Talk show lies in the involvement by the fans to keep the momentum of the dance party going.

The music continued blaring with no stops and no breaks as people as far off as the balcony were jumping, grinding and ceaselessly dancing. The majority of songs played didn’t follow the patterns on released albums, but served as new verses layered on familiar songs and new mixes created in real time. Gillis provided an eclectic array of samples, from an Arcade Fire chorus, to a Smashing Pumpkins riff and a Nicki Minaj verse. No genres were excluded and all musical rules were discarded in instances when songs like Peter, Bjorn and John’s indie hit “Young Folks” was mixed with Wacka Flocka’s “Hard in Da Paint.”

For the show’s apex, a brief blast of “Thriller” blared over the speakers directly after a snippet of Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance,” triggering the third blast of confetti that stuck to the sweat and beer drenched bodies raving on the dance floor. As the music shifted through different decades, split fast raps, and jangly rhythms, Gillis and the crowd were relentless, never stopping to rest from their euphoric, beat induced trance.


Review by Michelle Carrera
Photos by Kelly O’Connell

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