‘Black and yellow, black and yellow, black and yellow‘. ‘pretty boy swag, pretty boy swag, pretty boy swag‘. It’s not every Sunday morning I wake up with Wiz Khalifa and Soulja Boy repeating themselves on a constant loop inside my brain, but that’s what happens when Greg Gillis comes to town. Pittsburgh‘s mash-up extraordinaire brought his dance party through Denver this weekend with a two-night run at the Ogden.
After reading the Westword review of Friday night’s show, I was hesitant on bringing my wife and four of our closest friends to the show on Saturday. I have seen Girl Talk five or six times over the past 5 years, but this would be the first time for everyone in my group and I didn’t want it to be a teenage puke-fest. Luckily for us, it seems amateur night was restricted to Friday, because our crowd was (mostly) well behaved. Well, there was the one girl who threw 3 beers at the bartender before being thrown out of the venue and that one guy who headbutted me in the stomach because he was walking like an idiot and not watching where he was going…oh yeah, that guy who tried to bury his face in my buddy”s girlfriend’s chest wasn’t handling himself very well either, but he had the good sense to stumble away before the shoves turned to punches. So, maybe it wasn’t the most mature crowd, but at least no one puked their Wendy’s on my shoes.
We got into the venue about 9:30 and got a great spot behind the soundboard. Max Tundra took the stage at 9:45 with The Rockford Files theme song and proceeded through an unexpected, thoroughly entertaining 45 min set of geektastic blips, bleeps, glitches, melodicas, singing and dancing. Most of the electronic music was preprogrammed into his laptop, but this wasn’t some DJ act. Max‘s stage presence brought to mind Martin “Marty” Randall, but that’s what made it all the more entertaining. Short, balding and no inhibitions what-so-ever; it was an event when the sweater came off. And it wasn’t just his disposition that held our attention, the music was fantastic. Dan Deacon, How To Dress Well, Girl Talk and James Blake all come to mind. A highlight was a sing-along of Beyoncé‘s Single Ladies. His ‘Persian rug‘ was not for sale, but he did ‘have t-shirts in the back’ and he also had fliers for a free tour EP; fliers he was handing out as we left the venue later in the night…stopping to thank him for something special.
I knew this was going to be different than prior Girl Talk shows when I saw an actual ‘crew’ setting up for his set. The first time I witnessed the live spectacle of a Girl Talk show was at Be The Riottt in San Francisco in 2006. He was the last act before the headliner, The Rapture, took the stage. Gregg walked out, setup his laptop, complained that The Rapture‘s gear was already setup and proceeded to invite everyone in the audience to share the stage with him. I believe it was the 7 min mark when they pulled the plug on him. The Rapture did not appreciate drunken teenagers dancing and falling all over their equipment. It wasn’t until a few months later I experienced a full Girl Talk set at the Independent, where once again it was just a dude and his laptop drowning in a sea of sweaty dancers, the only difference is this time they were all 21+. So seeing five guys setting up for the show was all the confirmation I needed that this bio-engineer, turned weekend mash-up artist, was now truly a rock star.
‘Giiiiirlllll Taaaaalllk, Giiiirlll Taallk, Giirl Taalk, Girl Talk, Girl Talk, GirlTalk, GirlTalk, girltalkgirltalkgirltalk…‘ the familiar chant began, this time the crowd being guided by close captioning across the giant screen acting as a backdrop for the largest laptop desk I’ve ever seen. Gregg took the stage dressed all in white with a white bandanna, pumped up the crowd for ‘night #2‘ and then dove into the audience, sending everyone into a frenzy. The ‘professional’ entertainer was back onstage in what seemed an instant and started the party off with War Pigs…Black Sabbath movin’ bitches out da way. And instead of climbing on the stage, the dancers were introduced from the side, most dressed in some sort of neon, giving away the fact that everything is now planned…trading the spontaneity for production. And while I am glad I was around for those ‘card table and a laptop’ days, I have to say the props really do add to the experience. You can only watch a guy clicking a mouse while jumping up and down for so long before it gets old. The same goes for making fun of the girl/guy/douchebag who really, really believes she/he is much better looking and a much better dancer than she/he really is.
Last night was never short on props; the lights, the words flowing across the screens, the confetti, the toilet paper guns, the huge condom(?) filled with more confetti, the balloons, the dancers dressed like bananas… Yes, Gregg has brought the Girl Talk game to a new level. This level is ‘above’ instead of ‘within’ his audience, but I doubt anyone would complain and with so much going on, you almost forget to ask yourself what it is he is actually doing up there.
Writing about a Girl Talk show is kinda like ‘dancing about architecture‘, it just doesn’t make much sense, so’ I’m not going to list all the mixes he did, just watch the videos below. I will mention that the encore of mostly Night Ripper stuff was a highlight. He did do Juicy, but it was over the piano intro for Runway instead of Elton John. And as much as the hip-hop gets everyone movin’, it’s the classic rock intros; the War Pigs, the Van Halen, the Journey and even Smashing Pumpkins (considered classic rock to a lot of these kids) that really got the blood flowing and had everyone walking out of the Ogden a believer.
Girl Talk’s intro at The Independent, January 2007
Girl Talk‘s intro at the Ogden Theatre, March 2011
Girl Talk‘s dance party at The Independent, January 2007
Girl Talk’s dance party at the Ogden, March 2011
Girl Talk‘s exit at The Independent, January 2007
Girl Talk‘s exit at the Ogden, March 2011