24 February 2008

Mostly Talk

I went to see Girl Talk on Thursday with some friends. I was excited about the show--I don't go to enough of them anymore--but something just felt wrong.

It's not that I'm against mashup artists--far from it. In fact, I'm embarrassed to admit that one of my old bosses gave me a copy of West Sounds before I'd really gotten into Kanye, and I'm consequently always a little sad when there's no "I Just Wasn't Made for These Times" sample along with sped-up Aretha in the real "School Spirit."

No, my trepidation had a more specific cause: I wasn't sure what a mashup artist had to offer as a live performer. I like going to see DJs, and I think they can be gifted musicians both solo and as part of a larger act (DJ Dummy is one of my favorites; don't tell me he's not a performer). Even if you can't or don't tear it up on the ones and twos, it's still not an insignificant musical skill to be able to tell what people are feeling at any given time and to choose the next tune accordingly.

But if you're only performing your own mashups (a limited repertoire, surely, and perhaps one that lacks the next perfect track for this place and time), and your instrument is your laptop, why do I want to come see you? I was worried that this Gregg Gillis guy was basically gonna just get up on stage and push play. This was before I'd heard about his penchant for "exhibitionist antics," which could have at least been funny.

The reality was worse. I have no idea what he did, because every jackass from the WUD music committee (and probably a good number of their friends) was up on the stage in the Great Hall dancing (some of them hilariously, but still), so every once in a while you just got a glimpse of Gillis's laptop-lit face. And he barely, if ever, said a thing.

I had a good time dancing with my friends, but, as a live music performance, this show was seriously disappointing. I wish we'd gone to see Galactic and Chali 2na (aka "The Verbal Herman Munster" from J-5), who were also in town. (And this is coming from a guy who once walked out of a Galactic show midway through the second set because the band had gotten wrecked during their break and went from killin' it to basically screwing around on stage. Most of the audience was too wasted too notice, so the band didn't catch any hell for it.)

In the interest of full disclosure, this reviewer was a little more generous. It also seems he may have had a run in with the woman who was obviously the drunkest dancer on stage, about whom my friend Steve remarked, "She's got one dancing speed: intercourse."

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