Girl Talk ringleader of his circus
Girl Talk (aka Greg Gillis) delivered his mash-up virtuosity to a sold-out crowd at Montclair’s Wellmont Theatre. The show marked the final date in his four-month tour, although Gillis will return to the road on Feb. 24 to kick off another slew of shows.
Gillis has made a living off of turning other artist’s works into his own, creating his unique brand of music by playing seconds of songs, often from disparate genres, over one another. His latest album, “All Day,” combined over 300 pop, rock and rap samples from at least four decades of music.
While Gillis’ albums are cohesive dance parties, perfect for the music elitist and teeny bopper alike, his live experience engages all the senses. Gillis and his road crew provide a visual spectacle, shooting both confetti and rolls of toilet paper, dropping balloons and flashing lights, among other surprises. Just watching Gillis in action is entertaining, as he ceaselessly bounces in place while preparing each sample, looking like he is running on a treadmill rather than operating a laptop.
The show featured Girl Talk’s best mashups, like Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs” with Ludacris’ “Move” and Aphex Twin’s “Windowlicker” with Soulja Boy’s “Pretty Boy Swag,” as well as numerous new mixes, like the Smashing Pumpkins’ “Today” flawlessly mixed with Youngbloodz’ “Damn.”
While the sights and sounds of Girl Talk’s 90-minute performance impressed, the jam-packed crowd engaged the other three senses. The constant pushing and shoving left the audience undulating like a single entity. Water was sprayed, drinks were spilled and the smells of the all-too-close attendees quickly became irritating.
What initially began as a dance show in a club setting quickly turned chaotic, as crowd surfers plummeted and clouds of smoke from illicit activities filled the venue. Some people flourished during the mayhem, jumping carelessly, dancing or even grinding, while others frantically raced to the back.
The commotion made concentrating on the music difficult; a reprieve from Gillis’ high-octane rap-rock fusions would have been appreciated, but Gillis was relentless. Even if the show was not the most enjoyable for a spectator, it was entertaining to see Gillis as the ringleader of his circus.
Indie-rock band Penguin Prison opened the show with a lackluster performance. The quartet failed to capture the audience’s attention, with some spectators even choosing to sit on the venue’s floor rather than pay attention.
The band, while seemingly attempting to be the American version of the indie superstar group, Phoenix, came off more like a boring Backstreet Boys.
After their set, the audience quickly became rough, with everyone trying to get as close as possible to the stage.
While the show was certainly a unique experience, would-be concertgoers should be aware that a Girl Talk show is an event without rival. If one can stand the crowds and heat, Gillis’ captivating performance will show that a MacBook can move crowds as much as a guitar and that technology has indelibly altered the traditional view of a musician.
Kevin Stevens can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alyana Alfaro can be reached at email@example.com.