This past Friday, I traveled up to Philadelphia to see Girl Talk, aka DJ Gregg Gillis, perform at The Electric Factory. He also made some closer stops (Rams Head Live! on Monday, 9:30 Club on Tuesday), but I thought catching the Friday night show (that last on this tour) in his home state of Pennsylvania would be a guaranteed good time.
And I was right. I've seen Girl Talk before (at Virgin Fest a couple years ago), but this was my first time seeing him headline. Since 2002, Gillis has been putting out albums full of digital mash-ups and sampling from a huge variety of artists. He's been accused of stealing music from those artists (his latest album samples nearly 400 songs), but Gillis maintains that the brief snippets he uses are covered by the copyright law's "fair use" principle. (Plus, most of his music is available for free on his label's website).
Since his music is a collage of other songs, his shows, in turn, become huge dance parties. The sold-out crowd at The Electric Factory certainly looked ready for a dance party, with glow bracelets, neon clothes, and sunglasses. The crowd was definitely skewed younger—most people were college-aged and in their 20s. The Electric Factory is a pretty big venue (akin to 9:30 Club), and it has a fenced-off bar area to the right of the stage, as well as balconies on top. It seems like the type of place where you can always find a good view.
Gillis opened his set with "Oh No," the premeire track on 2010's All Day. The song is a great example of Gillis's ability to mash up seemingly random song that layer together flawlessly. Mash-ups include Ludacris's "Move Bitch" over Black Sabbath's "War Pigs," Call Swag District's "Teach Me How to Dougie" over Jane's Addiction's "Jane Says," and Missy Elliott's "Get Your Freak On" over the Ramones's "Blitzkrieg Bop." One of my favorite samples on his new album is in "Let it Out," where he layers Rhianna's "Rude Boy" over Fugazi's "Waiting Room." Pure brilliance.
Girl Talk then plowed through his recent discography, playing most of All Day and 2008's Feed The Animals. The low point of the show definitely came when Gillis, a Pittsburgh native, played Wiz Khalifa's "Black and Yellow" and the crowd dancing on stage (always a requisite at Girl Talk shows) waved terrible towels.
But, that was really the only negative of the high-energy, hour-and-a-half set, which included a version of "Shout" that puts any wedding dance to shame. While the main focus of Girl Talk shows is the music, he gives you plenty of other distractions. There was a giant video board, and he blasted confetti, shot toilet paper from a gun, and dropped balloons from the ceiling. The latter might have been my favorite moment when, towards the end of the show, Gillis played "Every Day," which samples John Lennon's "Imagine" about halfway through. As soon as that iconic piano started, the netted balloons fell from the ceiling in what was a really beautiful moment.
Then he played an encore, or what he called an "after-party set," which included old favorites off of Night Ripper. It certainly seemed like Gillis went all out on Friday, as he kept saying how excited he was to be back in his home state on the last Friday of his tour. To get a good idea of what the show was like, check out one fan's perspective in this YouTube video.