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Saturday, May 12, 2007

Girl Talk, anonymous even at his own show

May 11, 2007
Mr. Small's Theatre, Pittsburgh

The first of five opening acts begins playing as we walk in the door and take a spot in the crowd. A few feet to our right stands the headliner, Gregg Gillis, aka Girl Talk, the Pittsburgh-based mashup artist whose show tonight is sold out. He is not recognized by anyone, except for a solitary dude who comes over to offer a handshake and a few words.

Anonymous even at his own show in his hometown, Gillis has gone from unknown local guy to nationally renowned mashup artist who performs for thousands around the world. Upcoming gigs include Bonnaroo, the Pimlico festival in Baltimore, and the Primavera Sound Festival in Barcelona. But you still wouldn't recognize him on the street. This from a guy who (we think) still holds a day job at a downtown office and has co-workers who (we think) still have no idea what he does on the weekends.

If you've read one Girl Talk review, you've read them all. He stands on stage in front of two laptops, which he uses to mashup songs on the spot. His hour-long set largely ignored 2006's acclaimed Night Ripper, which wound up on every music magazine's top 20 list, and that was a good thing, because it wouldn't be very fun to go to a show and just hear the CD over again.

Gillis came on stage dressed in a bizarrely-spotted hoodie, which he removed to reveal a Steelers t-shirt, which later came off to reveal a Penguins tank top. Paying further homage to his hometown, Gillis' first mashup was a re-working of Night Ripper's opening track, "Once Again," with the Ludacris rap replaced by one from local rapper Wiz Khalifa's song "Pittsburgh Sound." It took not five minutes for the crowd to spill onto the stage, and from there the dance party was on.

Gillis added some brand new material into his mashups, including Avril Lavigne's "Girlfriend," Timbaland's "Give It To Me," and Gwen Stefani's "The Sweet Escape," which became one of the show's highlights as the audience sang along to the obnoxious "woohoo, weehoo!" lines. The high point was the most talked-about moment on Night Ripper, when Gillis mixes Notorious B.I.G.'s "Juicy" with Elton John's "Tiny Dancers." The crowd exploded as if they were watching a rock band perform its biggest hit. Another personal favorite moment was when the baseline from Hall & Oates' "Out of Touch" kicked in on "LC and Lo."

At the end of the show, Gillis, either drunk or just riding the high of the moment, asked the crowd, "Where's the after party?," then proceeded to give out his home address to the hundreds in attendance. (Sorry, stalkers, I didn't catch the street name - it's 500 Something Street in Wilkinsburg.) As he normally does, he then took the mic to end the show with an actual singing performance of Nirvana's "Scentless Apprentice," which strangely sent everyone home happy.

Girl Talk on MySpace

Here's a short, grainy clip (I wish videos looked as good online as they do on my camera...)

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