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Thursday, January 6, 2011

Concert Review: Girl Talk at House of Blues

Posted By on Thu, Jan 6, 2011 at 8:55 AM

Girl Talk, taking the mashup thing a little too far
  • Girl Talk, taking the mashup thing a little too far

There’s nothing quite like a Girl Talk show. Part whirlwind DJ set, part arena-rock spectacle, part frenzied dance party, Pittsburgh native Gregg Gillis’ mix sets are events — or at least as close to big-time event as DJs get.

And unlike so many of his peers — who try to be the hippest guys in the room by spinning mixes made up of songs nobody’s ever heard — Gillis is a Top 40 freak. Even the most casual music fans have heard 75 percent of the tracks Gillis throws into his mixes. He’s a mash-up artist who loves the Jackson 5 as much as he loves Gucci Mane.

Girl Talk’s latest album, All Day (which was released as a free download in November), blows through more than 370 samples in 70 minutes. His sold-out show at House of Blues last night (the first date on his new tour) played like one of his freewheeling albums, cutting and mixing and mashing hundreds of artists and songs in an 80-minute set that didn’t stop once Gillis walked onstage.

Gillis — a former Case Western Reserve University student — is a master of laptop beats, combining snippets of songs that cross eras and genres. Of course the audience ate it up, forming a mass of bouncing bodies that moved to the swell of familiar songs in semi-new packages. Dozens of fans joined him onstage, dancing nonstop for the entire show. The confetti cannons, massive balloons, and blaring lights added to the festivities.

Wearing sweats and a white T-shirt (which came off mid-set), Gillis loaded his mix last night with All Day tracks. He started with the album’s opening “Oh No” (which includes samples from Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs” and Ludacris’ “Move Bitch,” among dozens of others) and worked through “Jump on Stage,” “This Is the Remix,” and “Down for the Count.”

He also included some older cuts, like “Summer Smoke” (from 2006’s Night Ripper), “No Pause” (from 2008’s Feed the Animals), and “The Feeling” (from 2004’s Unstoppable). Gillis weaved in some different sounds here and there (like a blast from Rush’s “Tom Sawyer”), which kept the show from being more than just him onstage pushing “play.” His energy — he leaped on tables, jumped into the audience, and kept his hands in motion all night — also helped keep the party moving. —Michael Gallucci

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