What is it about Gregg Gillis’ music that makes people, primarily young people, shed their inhibitions so readily? What is it about his live show that makes them so compltely lose their shit? No two ways about it, Girl Talk’s set at the Newport last Saturday night was the wildest party I’ve ever been too and one of the more memorable events of my concert-going lifetime. That’s a lot of superlatives to toss around, but I don’t do it lightly.
Before we get to the good stuff, though, let’s address a couple of things. Gregg’s set-up consists of a six-foot table, to which is duct-taped a siran-wrapped laptop (a PC, by the way) and the necessary cables. Strapped down to the table-top is a pair of monitor speakers and strapped to the legs are a whole lot of sandbags. That alone should have been a hint that I was in for a riot. Not that I didn’t have a clue; I’d seen pictures from some of GT’s previous shows, including one at the Wexner Center that looked like a miniturized rave. And, walking to the venue, I was passed by gaggles of giggling young girls who wore next to nothing despite the negative wind chill.
As the horrendous opening acts finished up and the minimal set-up was put in place, the protection increased notably. Barriers were erected at the sides of the stage, a security guy stood at each end of GT’s table, and several more were on either side of me in the pit. (I stood between the barrier and the stage to take photos.) The crowd had been buzzing about whether they were going to allow fans to dance on the Newport’s stage, and it looked like the answer was no.
Shortly, the lights dimmed and the crowd chanted as Girl Talk took the stage in a blue hoodie and multi-colored sneakers. The very instant he fired-up his playlist (starting with “Once Again,” the first track from Night Ripper) absolute choas erupted. The stage suddenly filled with people who had apparantly been secreted backstage earlier in the evening. In response, about two dozen other young fans started piling over the barricades. The females among them mostly got hoisted to the stage by the staff, while a number of young men got unceremoniously shoved back into the crowd or pushed to the sides. Within 60 seconds the situation felt completely out of control. Not dangerous, but definitely beyond reason. I put a foot on the barricade and a hand on the stage for elevation, my camera waving about in the air. A couple of girls pulled on my arm for leverage as they climbed to the stage. Then I dropped to the floor, and the space above me was quickly filled with bodies. When I popped back up for more photos, I found myself amidst a writhing, crawling, sea of young flesh.
So what about the music? Well, as far as I could tell, Gregg was just using iTunes. None of the tracks differed significantly from what’s to be found on his albums, and sometimes they were in the exact same order. Really though, with the crowd so close to him and a couple of drunk young ladies clutching his limbs and shouting in his face, I admire the fact that he was able to maintain anything that resembled the rhythm of a set. But we don’t listen to Girl Talk for depth right? We’re not even admiring his DJ skills, after all the guy sells t-shirts emblazened with “I am not a DJ.” Girl Talk, it seems, knows what boys and girls like, and that’s hearing every hook you know bumping and grinding with some incredibly dirty raps. It did the trick. There was so much sex in the air that night, Quasimoto would’ve had no problem hooking up in the ladies room.