A steady buzz echoed throughout the Austin Music Hall. The crowd of 3,000 cramped together like sardines in a jar, most of them carrying on separate conversations. The florescent lights tortured my already drowsy eyes. Suddenly, as if by the flip of a switch, everything stopped. The room turned from a painfully bright California day to a dark Chicago night. All discussions halted and transformed to wild applause. An eruption of lights and colors appeared on the stage as two words were repeated many times. At first, the words were faint and impossible to discern. They grew increasingly distinct as the volume reached higher decibels. Fans could feel the intensity in the air rising. Eventually the words were as bright and clear as the flashing strobe lights above: Girl Talk.
The music that Gregg Gillis (better known by the stage name “Girl Talk”) creates falls into the category of “DJ” or “Dance Music.
” However, by mixing samples of current music, Gillis has revolutionized the word “DJ.” He has elevated the term’s definition from “a guy who plays around with beats” to a cultural phenomenon. Every beat that Girl Talk mixes is done right on the stage. He doesn’t just press the play button; it’s all live. Girl Talk’s concerts are really more like parties. These parties consist of epic light shows, mind boggling tunes and Girl Talk’s signature element: crowd interaction.
From the instant the show kicked off until the final note reverberated, the sweet music was worth the price of admission and then some. The bass had been cranked up so high that I could feel it in my body. After each bass-hit, my head reacted with a responsive pounding. A combination of toilet paper, silly string and balloons rained down from the ceiling in a constant festive motion. The aroma of Coors Light and body odor filled my nostrils. Girl Talk makes it very clear that his goal is to make sure everyone has a good time. Gillis is a master of his craft.
At every Girl Talk show, members of the crowd are invited on stage to dance with the great performer himself. This show was no different. Drunken frat boys and sorority girls wearing neon tank tops charged the stage as they prepared to let go of any self-conscious tendencies they may have had for the next two to three hours. The once pristine and untouched stage had devolved into a chaotic mess of flailing bodies and spilled beer. To some, the event may have resembled a Picasso painting; to others, a case of mass epilepsy.
Greg Gillis has found a way to encompass the culture of the current American teen to early 20’s demographic. Perhaps someday anthropologists will point to Girl Talk’s performances as the iconic experience of youth in today’s society.
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