It was like a bad dream, a deja vu shit show, that, when repeated, almost always seems to involve young women barfing all over the carpeted foyer and tiled bathroom floors of the Ogden Theatre. When Gregg Gillis, aka Girl Talk, came through last night, he incited the usual desire in his audience to go hard -- whether that meant dancing manically to his multi-layered samples and sounds or throwing down with booze, weed -- whatever else causes people to go so far beyond the party that they have no choice but to expel their Wendy's in public. Regardless of the level of intoxication of the masses, Gillis brought the party.
Whale cries of bass rolled out from the speakers and rattled the sold out space, accompanied by the slow motion of sounds speeding up until forming the recognizable "Girl Talk" chant. Gillis dropped Black Sabbath's "War Pigs" and Ludacris' "Move Bitch" as he stood at a new and improved DJ perch, his usual folding table, laptop and bottle of Jack now transformed into a space age, dual-screen, LED-encrusted station.
Gillis was ever the same, though: a happy smile beaming out from a waterfall of sweaty hair being held against his face with a bandana across his forehead. He hollered for his people to get up, encouraged their good time and busted out his notorious Notorious B.I.G. mix -- a track usually saved for the climax of his shows -- and instead of melding it with Elton John's "Tiny Dancer," he brought in Kanye West's "Runaway." West gave way to The Ramones, then Busta Rhymes, then Billy Idol, then Rihanna, and -- in the most terrifying culture clash of the night -- then the princess of Barbados morphed into Fugazi.
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Along with his bigger and better DJ set-up, Gillis was now backed by a full LED-lit screen, which between flashing images of bananas, fish and dinosaurs, instructed the crowd to clap their hands. Girl Talk as a show had made the unabashed transition from performance to sporting event, and the crowd was tailor-made for made for public grinding as a complimentary recreational activity. As the masses threw their hands up and exploded into a sideshow of butt-riding and vertical versions of The Worm, Gillis dropped The Cars, Daft Punk, Tag Team and even Roy Orbison, who's shining "Anything You Want" elicited a blown out strobe flash.
Gillis further primed the crowd with Pitbull's nastiness pushed up against the bubbly and harmless "Just Can't Get Enough" by Depeche Mode, before dropping the classic college/karaoke bar anthem, Bon Jovi's "Livin' On A Prayer." Already coated in a layer of toilet paper that had been shot from the stage, the crowd was awash in wave of giant balloon balls as Gillis hit his classic Kelly Clarkson take down.
Drake, INXS, Wiz Khalifa and Willow Smith all came and went before more balloons added a tangible layer of latex to the body spray, body odor and weediness floating above the human foundation. Weezer's "Say It Ain't So" created a savory climax of sorts, fists shooting into the air as the stage went dark, before Gillis wound it back up with the UGK/Outkast collaboration, "International Players Anthem." Birdman and Lil Wayne's "Pop Bottles" closed the night down, with what looked to be two giant, oblong helium-filled objects passed over the sea of pale hands.
Moments later, the speakers hissed with Ciara's "Goodies" mixed with Nate Dogg and Fabalous' "Can't Deny It," and the DJ rocked out with his fans. The Pixies and Jay-Z came together and Vampire Weekend, Missy Elliot, The Jackson 5, Queen and Beastie Boys got in, too, just in time for Iggy Pop's accidental anthem, "Lust For Life," to be shook in and sped out. Confetti created the perfect physical manifestation of a finale, and with that, Gillis said goodbye.
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While Gillis maintained his usual stoic-party DJ presence, the organic integration of crowd and stage felt and looked forced. He still invited fans to get on his level, but upgrades in the mash-up artist's laptop set-up created a barrier foreign to his usual uber-accessibility.
No longer was there room around his Girl Talk-trademarked folding table for girls to take photos while he worked; instead, the crowd found solace in snapping Facebook-ready pictures of themselves, beers and middle fingers in the air. Perhaps this newfound distance from the crowd was intentional. One could hardly blame him.
CRITIC'S NOTEBOOK Personal Bias: I have seen Girl Talk so many times live that I've lost count, so I know his routine well. Random Detail: I haven't seen that much puke and underage-looking inebriation at the Ogden Theater since Crystal Castles. By the Way: I'm surprised this party hasn't been moved to the Fillmore yet, since the DJ seems to sell out every time.