Live Review: Girl Talk at The Tabernacle, January 21

By Sam Parvin

Wrist bands guy: “You look just like Justin Bieber.”

Young, sunglasses-faced guy: “I know, right?!”

Consider the tone set.

Gregg Gillis, BKA Girl Talk, mashes like a madman.  He started his set in the historic church with sequences from his latest album, All Day, which samples such artists as Black Sabbath, Ludacris, Jay-Z (feat. Alicia Keys) and Jane’s Addiction, cleverly intertwined with one another.  If you are not already a Girl Talk fan, the song selection may seem a bit random.  But there is nothing random about the final mixes Girl Talk presents.  His most recent album features 373 popular songs from the past few decades, mashed into one seamless 71-minute album (or separated into 12 tracks for easier download, if need-be).

His shows are not simply his replicating the album, though.  In fact, Gillis worked in several crowd-pleasers that are not on his albums, including Radiohead’s “Creep” (and the crowd goes wild), “Cecilia” (Simon & Garfunkel) and Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance”.  He adds an additional visual component with the projection screen on stage.  Stream-of-consciousness type images abound, like a video of the crowd with anarchy symbols over it, cats and coffins floating across the screen during Gaga’s “Bad Romance,” and salt shakers shaking tacos out of them during “Bounce High.”

The mood really got hot when Kelly Clarkson’s “Since You Been Gone” came on – and Gillis’s shirt, off – halfway through the set.  Dozens, maybe hundreds, of balloons were released from the rafters… cue The Beatles mashed with Peter, Bjorn and John.  Just as Girl Talk weaves in and out of song after song, so too does he maneuver intelligently from familiar mash-ups from his albums into never-before-heard tracks that reference such iconic tunes as “Shout” and John Lennon’s “Imagine.”  It’s almost enough for me to forget about the elbow to the chest from the Pi Kappa Phi Prez in a highlighter colored sweatband and the shove from his girlfriend trying to get to the bar 2.5 seconds faster… (not the first of the night).  Still, I found a cozy spot in the balcony and enjoyed the feast for the senses.

In the DJ tradition, the party starts early and ends in the wee hours of the morning, but there was nothing late about the show at The Tabernacle on January 21.  When house lights came up before midnight, I was sure there would be a second set or at least an encore.  It was probably best that there was not, since very few livers in the house could take another drink (Next Stop: Stumble Central).  But I guess if the worst thing in Gillis’ control is leaving his on-lookers wanting more, he must be doing something right…


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