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Girl Talk’s Brandeis encore

By Danielle Gewurz

Section: Arts

December 5, 2008

GIRL TALK: DJ Gregg Gillis, AKA ‘Girl Talk,’ performs at Brandeis on Nov. 24, to a full crowd in the Levin Ballroom. Check out The Hoot’s exclusive interview with Gregg Gillis at www.thehoot.net.<br /><i>PHOTO BY Max Shay/The Hoot</i>

GIRL TALK: DJ Gregg Gillis, AKA ‘Girl Talk,’ performs at Brandeis on Nov. 24, to a full crowd in the Levin Ballroom. Check out The Hoot’s exclusive interview with Gregg Gillis at www.thehoot.net.
PHOTO BY Max Shay/The Hoot

Levin Ballroom was a cross between an amazing show and a dance party last Monday, when Girl Talk, the artist otherwise known as Gregg Gillis, returned to Brandeis to perform at a Student Events concert. What happened was an event that somehow bested not only every Brandeis dance I’ve ever been to, but most live performances as well.

The opener, a pair of DJs, did a decent job keeping an already excited crowd ready to dance with a standard set blending sped-up dance hits. But when Gillis came out for sound check, it was clear this was an excited crowd, ready to party and waiting for Girl Talk.

Girl Talk reemerged shortly thereafter, having changed into a sweat suit and began the show explosively with the “Int’ Players Anthem (I Choose You)” sample from “Feed the Animals” blasting from the speakers. Gillis yelled into the mic, “It’s great to be back at Brandeis after two and a half to three years,” before beginning an ear-pounding set that spanned an incredible hour and a half.

Typical of Girl Talk shows, people flooded the Levin stage to dance and watch Gillis perform, which consists of him alternately dancing, headbanging, removing his shirt, and frantically working over his laptop to set up transitions and other samples. Gillis told me before the show that his favorite visual is having people on stage, and it’s clear why; the excited crowd, no longer just the audience, was the crucial part of the performance.

<i>PHOTO BY Max Shay/The Hoot</i>

PHOTO BY Max Shay/The Hoot

<i>PHOTO BY Max Shay/The Hoot</i>

PHOTO BY Max Shay/The Hoot

As the show progressed, he would periodically climb the stage equipment, as the audience looked on in bewilderment, in sweat-drenched pants to hype up the crowd.

The set had a lot of familiar material, much of it from “Feed the Animals” though mixed differently and clearly in response to the ebb and flow of the audience. Gillis referenced back several notable samples from his past two albums. There was Notorious B.I.G.’s “Juicy” over “Tiny Dancer,” plus a new combination of “Flashing Lights” and “No Diggity” with Kanye’s verses slowed and pitch shifted. The high quotient of album samples clearly resonated as the crowd smiled and cheered when recognizing the samples.

The crowd made the show far more exciting than watching a guy mess around on his laptop could ever be. People sang/rapped along with samples as they came up, either because they knew the original songs or because they knew the Girl Talk track that sampled it, or, most likely, both. More than just a live DJ set, it’s also live reinterpretations of album tracks.

Most enjoyable was hearing non-album samples blended in; we heard the “Can I Get A…” a capella laid over the Paper Planes instrumental, “Jockin’ Jay-Z,” and lengthy chunks of “A Milli,” the chorus of “My Neck, My Back” and many more that added an element of unpredictability to the show.

<i>PHOTO by Max Shay/The Hoot</i>

PHOTO by Max Shay/The Hoot

Girl Talk uses the occasional beat of total silence extraordinarily well, followed by the beats crashing in louder than ever. These were used to great effect during the epic conclusion of the set, which spanned almost half an hour as Gillis not only hit his stride but repeatedly slowly built and then released the crowd’s tension.

The crowd danced unceasingly, and it was clear everyone was wholly focused on the music.

Gillis threw together many familiar samples, from “Hustlin’” to “Glamorous,” and a long mix of “I’d Rather” with “Jessie’s Girl” from “Feed the Animals,” with the addition of the intro from Blur’s “Song 2.” There was also Soulja Boy, “Kiss Kiss,” “Kryptonite (I’m On It)” over “Thriller,” and many more, and Gillis was unstoppable. Everyone there, no matter how exhausted, held out to see what was coming next.

Gillis closed as balloons and confetti descended on the crowd, blasting Journey and leaving the crowd dazed, exhausted, but still hoping for more.

<i>PHOTO by Max Shay/The Hoot</i>

PHOTO by Max Shay/The Hoot

<i>PHOTO by Max Shay/The Hoot</i>

PHOTO by Max Shay/The Hoot



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