also featuring Deerhunter
March 8, Culture Room,
Gregg Gillis (AKA Girl Talk) has previously said he wants his shows to become just one big climactic party, where everyone attending feels welcomed to join him on stage, whether he’s in the middle of an enormous circle of fans at a festival or at the modestly-sized stage at Culture Room. No matter where you see Girl Talk perform, you can always expect a never ending party.
Arriving early at the venue, I saw that a line had formed outside several hours after the doors opened, with people clamoring for extra tickets. Culture Room rarely sees a show of this magnitude in terms of artist recognition and popularity, and accordingly it was a sold out show. Even people who had only heard about a Girl Talk show were standing in line in anticipation. Gillis had been hyped for all of 2008 with his album; Feed The Animals, receiving an immense amount of accolades that he probably didn’t expect to receive, from nearly flawless reviews to Blender and Time naming his album one of the best of 2008.
Shortly after entering, the crowd hovered near the stage, cluttering and taking space in any open pocket that was available. The opening band was Deerhunter. Deerhunter’s last performance took place at Club Cinema in support of Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and it was met with little enthusiasm (mostly in part due to lead singer Bradford Cox’s shrieking and yells). This time around, Deerhunter went to the basics of performance, playing a couple of tracks off their well-received album Microcastle. They were more subdued and performed a short set, but being the opener to “The Loudest Show on Earth” while playing a condensed, moderate set is hard to pull off, almost to the point where a band could sound droll. However, Deerhunter was able to perform well and start the night off in good spirits.
With the lights down and the Girl Talk emblem projected high on the stage, a gang of South Florida’s dance underground approached the stage, ready to pounce on the plastic table with speakers and two Dell laptops taped down to ensure its safety during the chaotic affair about to happen. Gillis, pumped up, entered the dimly lit stage, raced to his table of mischief and grabbed the mic, greeting everyone in attendance while everyone praised him back.
With the press of a button, a dancing mob ensued, with people racing to the stage as if they were running from a nuclear attack and Girl Talk was their bunker. Sweaty bodies gyrating all around, arms wailing in unison, shouts and screams of joy vibrating against one another, couples getting mad at their significant other for grinding against someone else; these are the basics for a Girl Talk show. The moment you start getting into one song, it gets mashed up with another, and you go right into the next refrain of another song that you remember from contemporary radio (with some indie/alternative, rap, and pop thrown in for good measure).
It is performance art, and we are all part of the performance.
The best part of the show is always the fan participation that has become customary at a Girl Talk show. Without it, the flare of it all would be gone. Yes, I’ve read and heard that it’s all one big show without the musicianship, that it is just performance art, and that Gillis is simply a DJ that has to make everything completely over-the-top, and his aberrant antics are all a façade. But what makes a Girl Talk show so good is that it is a complete spectacle. If it isn’t insane, if there isn’t an insane amount of people moving, then it fails. It is performance art, and we are all part of the performance.
Gillis realizes that is what separates his show from going to some dance club. While the usual musical enthusiast wouldn’t dream of going to a club, much less get into a mix of strangers and dance uncontrollably with them, that same person wouldn’t feel indifferent and out of place at a Girl Talk show. Yes, maybe a little timid at first and questioning themselves, saying, “Why am I jumping up and down to Jessie’s Girl mixed with Chris Brown and T-Pain,” but they soon end up loving the show more than the girl dancing on stage. That’s how good a Girl Talk show is – everyone is involved and as a collective group define it as their own party, with Gillis as the master curator.
Read interview with Girl Talk here
Love Girl Talk? Twitter Us
Review by Michael Hernandez
Photos by Sheila Cordova