Review: Girl Talk at the Pageant, Tuesday, January 18
When Gregg Gillis (a.k.a. Girl Talk) made his 2009 stop in St. Louis, I went with a few of my closest friends, drank my weight in gin, danced a month's worth of cardio and most important, had a fantastic time. All in all, it felt like a really great dance party in some friend-of-a-friend's house with a few thousand strangers who were all pretty nice.
Meanwhile, at the 2011 show, I was sober, seated and attending more as a voyeur than a participant. I'm not sure if it's the change in perspective or another two years passing, but man, was it weird. When the house lights came on and the 40 or so audience members who'd been chosen to dance onstage were awkwardly trying to figure out where to go, I felt less of those warm fuzzies and more like 30 years of pop music got wasted, trashed my house and puked on my shoes.
Originally I thought that maybe I'd just changed more than I'd realized. Although, I'm not the only variable - perhaps Girl Talk's explosion of popularity had something to do with it, maybe it was a change in his demographic, and it might even just be the fact that he didn't use that Khia sample that I love so dearly.
Also, it's hard to not go into a show like this without some preconceptions. No matter what your opinion on him and his "illegal art," there's no arguing that Girl Talk is a polarizing figure: You either love him or hate him, respect what he does or scoff at it. And although I understand the frustration his critics find in the practice of profiting and building a career so dependent on the creativity of others, I've always defended mashup art in itself, and Gillis in particular. Not only does he do a great job of making incredibly fun, nostalgia-ridden dance tracks, but he really does perform when he has a gig - he'll use a lot of the same samples that are present on the album, but pit them against different tracks and play them at different speeds. And, of course, there's his ultra0energetic dance style (think "jump! Jump! Jump!") and penchant for shirtless, sweaty hyping.