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It was, what, zero degrees outside Saturday night? Not inside Expo Five, which looks like an airplane hangar off South Seventh Street Road. A sold-out crowd, some 1,500 people, had crammed into the venue to see the DJ Gregg Gillis, a.k.a. Girl Talk, who released All Day, his most recent album of mash-ups, last November. He and his Panasonic Toughbook, mummified in plastic wrap, took the stage at almost 10:30 p.m., when a garbled voice came over the speakers. As the voice sped up, the words became "Girl" and "Talk." And the people screamed — "Girl Talk! Girl Talk! GirlTalkGirlTalkGirlTalkGirlTalk!" — clapping faster and faster until what they were chanting became as undecipherable as what Gillis had originally played.
For the uninitiated, Gillis sampled more than 370 songs on the 70-minute-long All Day, which kicks off with Ludacris' opening verse from the song "Move Bitch" over Black Sabbath's "War Pigs." That's also how Gillis decided to begin his live performance, which lasted more than an hour and had people jumping and dancing and shedding layers of clothing. Although a few of the mixes were the same as what's on the new album — Ol' Dirty Bastard's "Shimmy Shimmy Ya" combined with Radiohead's "Creep," for instance — the majority of the time Gillis chose to play samples off All Day in totally new ways. "People always expect new material," he said when I interviewed him last week.
I don't remember all of the samples — I, too, was dancing the night away — but do recall hearing Big Boi, Three 6 Mafia, Notorious B.I.G., Wale, Rage Against the Machine, AC/DC, John Lennon, "Shout" by the Isley Brothers and, well, you understand the eclectic mix. The highlight had to be the rocked-out version of Kelly Clarkson's "Since U Been Gone," which (I think) was mixed with blasts of Nine Inch Nails. During that part of the show, the speakers suddenly fell silent, and Gillis asked if everybody was ready to take it up a notch on a "Saturday night!" Then Clarkson's voice cried from the speakers again, and giant confetti-filled balloons were sent bounding into the audience.
It's difficult to review a performance like this because although Gillis is mixing things live, it's basically a guy in front of a glowing laptop. What makes a Girl Talk show special, then, is Gillis' energy. He often leapt onto the table that held his laptop and yelled into a microphone, telling everybody to jump or waive their hands from side to side. Toward the end of the performance a shirtless Gillis kneeled on the table, and the giant LED screen behind him turned his body into a silhouette, his sweat-drenched hair dangling over his face. Let's just say the headband he wore was not a fashion statement.
Several fans danced onstage with Gillis, and the LED screen showed some Louisville footage — a bourbon bottle, Slugger Field — and also incorporated live video of the crowd. Gillis' friends launched toilet paper from the stage, where some women dressed like Flashdance extras and others had blue or green glow sticks in their mouths. One guy I saw buried his face into the chest of the woman he was with. All I'm saying is that nine months from now, a child who was conceived at Girl Talk's Louisville show will be born.
A good friend of mine had seen Girl Talk in Columbus, Ohio, two nights before the Louisville show, and he said it had a house-party feel, a description I agree with. And it's worth mentioning that the couple dancing next to my wife and me must have been on something because they couldn't take their eyes off the leaf blowers that spewed confetti toward the rafters. (Then I ate mushrooms and realized what the fuss was about. Suddenly, I was the confetti.)
I'm kidding, of course. The only substance I consumed came in the form of a $2 bottled water. I was in bed before midnight and hadn't ingested anything to make me hungover the following morning. When I woke up the next day, however, the clock read 11:47 a.m. Probably haven't slept in that late since I was in college, I thought. Girl Talk had worn me out.