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Your lifestyle, your quirk
You can take a dance show out of the club, but you can’t take the club out of the dance show. Because of this, the crowd that descended on the Whitewater Amphitheater in New Braunfels, Texas, to see mashup icon Girl Talk looked exactly like the type of crowd at any dance club in the world on any Saturday night. They arrived in neon and tutus, some in funny hats, many with glowsticks, glownecklaces, and glowglasses. The scene under the Texas stars was one that was familiar, but different.
This makes a lot of sense, because at its core, Girl Talk’s music is familiar but different. The man born Gregg Gillis has spent the last few years making a career out of taking other people’s music, breaking it down, and building it back in to something that is both recognizable and foreign. It’s also really great for dancing.
And dance the crowd did. From the opening vocals courtesy of UGK’s “International Players Anthem” to the bombastic finale that featured the hook to Spacehog’s “In The Meantime,” everyone was in a state of constant motion, from those at the front of the stage who had waited hours for the show to start to the lucky fans selected to dance on stage. Even Gillis got in on the dancing, jumping up and down while clicking away at his laptop.
The familiar but different theme extended to the tracks he performed, but not in the way one might expect. When playing live, Gillis takes the mashups from his series of digital releases and revamps them, taking the mixes that we thought we knew in different directions. One of the joys of seeing him live is seeing how he incorporates songs released after his last mix (2010’s All Day) in with his old work. Hits from Adele and M83 made appearances right alongside familiar cuts from Jay-Z and U2.
That said, not everything was completely different. Gillis has, in his own way, his own collection of “hits” that never fail to set the crowd off. The biggest of these is his mashup of Nine Inch Nails’ “Wish” with Kelly Clarkson’s “Since You’ve Been Gone,” its anthemic chorus providing one of the night’s biggest sing-alongs.
It’s a performance that might actually work better outside. The bass might not hit as loud, but the show feels bigger, as if it went from standard definition to widescreen. The crowd has more room to dance, the air doesn’t get as stuffy, and watching confetti and balloons drift in the night sky is certainly a sight to behold. It’s an ambience that makes things feels more alive than they do in a club.
On mp3, Girl Talk comes off as the world’s best music history lesson. As you listen, you find yourself smiling at the songs you do know and rushing to the computer to look up the ones you don’t. Live, it’s something closer to an endurance race that leaves you spent physically (from having danced so much) and mentally (from trying to recognize the dozens of songs sampled).
The joy you get from the live show versus the studio mix? Familiar, but different.