Review and photos – Girl Talk at the Commodore Ballroom, Vancouver, Sept 19 2009
– review by Katy Horsley/photos by Jon Healy
Girl Talk is a mash-up dance party messiah for the scene and be-seen, incessant-Twitter-updating, Technicolor-American-Apparel crowd. An ADHD generation that just wants to dance, take pictures to post on FB and party all night long.
The former biomedical engineer took to the stage and the sardine-packed house went bonkers. A few sidekick chicks skipped on stage firing power toilet paper streamers and confetti original-prankster style while a sizable portion of the audience, about 40 strong, joined GT on stage to git thur sweaty neon crunk on.
Girl Talk, aka Greg Gillis, pulsated and headbanged his locks throughout the night while pumping the place full of instantly recognizable snippets. Everything from The Pixies, Dexy’s Midnight Runners, Missy Elliot, Van Halen, Kelly Clarkson, the Ramones, Vanilla Ice, Elton John, Soulja Boy, Cyndi Lauper to 95 South’s “Whoot There It Is” hook had audio cameos. Over the course of the night many, many ears would have ingested at least a few thousand different tracks, albeit in increments of seconds, some at times almost subliminally [i.e. Big Country’s “In a Big Country”-ed.] just due to the shear amount of samples thrown into the Girl Talk blender.
The screens flanking the stage displayed an assortment of ’80s-era MTV-style visuals. Psychedelically swirling mega-stacked phat burgers and fries, sparkly skulls, cash money, fireworks, jack o’ lanterns, lap tops – you know, all the topically poignant images from the modern chaos we call Western existence.
This first night of two back-to-back sold-out shows had everyone shaking it. One rather rollicking individual even rocked their crutches, waving them in the air like they cared a whole lot. I have to say Mr. Girl Talk really got a typically stoic Vancouver crowd to shimmy its booty. While two thirds of the crowd closer to the back were more chamomile, mildly swaying and/or sitting, GT really did get a multitude of bar stars and hipsters groove on.
While I can’t say it’s particularly my bag, I can see the talent in putting together a stellar mash-up. Gillis did make me a tad reminiscent of my silly fun days of yore. I kinda, sorta wanted to go back in time to buy bangles and fuschia acid wash jeans at Mariposa, pour over the “heartthrobs” in Big Bopper magazine, eat a whackload of five-cent candies and play Girl Talk. You know, the preteen truth-or-dare style board game circa 1988.
All in all it seemed to be a fun evening for all involved from where I was standing. It was nice to see an artist, err, entertainer, really enjoy himself. It was also refreshing to see how he invited as much of the audience as he could on stage with him. Perhaps he is not the messiah of mash-ups and crazy dance parties for this young and unfettered me, me, me generation. Perhaps he is just an intelligent dude who digs music and wants to share his pimped-up mix tapes with a few hundred thousand of his closest MySpace “friends”.
[Editor’s note: There was one sour note in the show, when Gillis stood up on his chair to call out whoever had hit him in the head with a projectile in the first half of the set. “If you’re under 16, way to go, you had your moment,” he said. “If you’re over 16 you’re a fucking asshole.” Then he dedicated a song to the perp.]
Kudos Girl Talk, whether you are indeed a “lawsuit waiting to happen” or a 15-minute blip of trendy fun, you are making money playing other people’s music for a generation of self-entitled music pirates. You have created controversy in the music industry as to whether your “illegal art” is actually safeguarded under fair use, while also managing to bring ironic glasses back in. Girl Talk, what do you do for fun?
Anyhow I ain’t praising or slagging per se, just giving you my two bits, not 20 seconds of somebody else’s.
More Girl Talk concert photos: