Girl Talk at First Avenue, 3/8/11

Girl Talk at First Avenue, 3/8/11
Photo by Erik Hess

After last night's sold-out Girl Talk show at First Avenue, classrooms across college campuses and cube farms in various office buildings probably feel a bit empty today.

During peak time at the show it was clear a good portion of the city's twentysomethings were all dancing under one roof without regard for the next day's responsibilities, and hell -- tomorrow might never come. They donned their best glowing merchandise and mobilized their crews for a weeknight out of fist-pumping dance-floor debauchery, and dammit if Pittsburgh's Greg Gillis, a.k.a. Girl Talk wasn't going to give it to them.

There were thirtysomethings in the house this night, too, making themselves known each time a more obsecure '80s cut (Doobie Brothers "What A Fool Believes") or '90s indie jam (Smashing Pumpkins' "Zero") maneuvered its way into Girl Talk's usual formula: A mix of thuggy rap anthems folded cleanly into unlikely classic melodies (or the inverse).

He began to riotous applause with Gucci Mane's "Makin' Love To the Money", the crowd getting dance moves in where they could with such limited realty on the floor. Tracks by Nicki Minaj, UKG and Big Boi followed on the hip-hop side -- erupting with Trillville's 'Neva Eva' (featured in the GT mash "Peak Out" off the Night Ripper album). Aural pop artifacts from the '80s like Belinda Carlile's "Heaven Is A Place On Earth" were not lost on the young audience, and of course a surprise "Thriller" drop had everyone sweating.   

Girl Talk at First Avenue, 3/8/11
Photo by Erik Hess

And speaking of drops, huge pouches of multicolored balloons lingered overhead, adding to the already obvious element of anticipation (What track will he lay down next? When will the balloons come down?). A stage full of dancing locals, flashing screens and spotlights made for an exhuberant backdrop behind a bandana-clad Gillis, who feverishly worked what appeared to be a Serrato system and acted as his own hype man every so often: "How you feeling, Minneapolis!!? What's good, First Avenue?" They were drunk on excitement and various beverages, to be sure.

Girl Talk at First Avenue, 3/8/11
Photo by Erik Hess

Any longtime observer of the Girl Talk trajectory would be able to tell you that this is nothing new; in fact, Gillis seemed only happy to dip into the tried-and-true wholesale cuts from Night Ripper and the more recent All Day, and rarely did he seem to veer off the path of what was likely a penned (or at least mentally noted) setlist. The real excitement came from the crowd's reception of Gillis and from the atmosphere. Sure, throwin' 'bows to "Bombs Over Baghdad" is fun, but we can do that at Get Cryphy every month in this venue -- what is it about this guy that gets people so hyped?

It's got a lot to do with the fact that he was one of the first to do it conceptually on a long-player and his compounding popularity over the years has made him a recognizable figure on the co-ed circuit. When people go out to a Girl Talk show, they know it's going to be packed with people who simply want to get down. Innovation is an afterthought and in this space, that's just fine. Cynics might call mashups the dancefloor-set moneyshot, but either way that means surefire satisfaction.  

Photo by Erik Hess
Photo by Erik Hess

Personal bias:  There's definitely a formula to this kind of stuff and Gregg Gillis knows it backwards and forwards. I usually like things to feel a bit more spontaneous musically, but that said, I'm getting dragged back to the second show tonight by a friend and fully admit I'm down for round two.  
The crowd: Young, drunk, and definitely calling in sick.
Overheard in the crowd: Cynical co-ed to her spastic friend ordering two doubles at the bar:  "Yeah, so... good luck remembering your name later."  
Random notebook dump: Have yet to see a guy selling glowsticks here but if he exists, there's a chance he made more money than Girl Talk tonight.
Setlist:  This would be like trying to identify every single ingredient in a massive casserole. Let's just say it was a bunch of old classic rock mixed with some new and vintage rap and a few odd house tracks an call it a day.

Photos: Girl Talk At First Avenue by Erik Hess
Photos: Girl Talk Afterparty at 7th St Entry by Alex Uncapher

Closing track / balloon drop:

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