Monday, November 10, 2008

Girl Talk at the Congress Theater 11/8

On Saturday night, I did one thing I didn't think I'd ever be typing about on this blog or pretty much anywhere else: I danced for nearly two hours straight.

Good god, the thought of that still frightens me. There was a good reason for it though, the set by Girl Talk at the Congress Theater. I wrote a few months back about Girl Talk (and if you still have not downloaded Feed The Animals for free, shame on you!), and already saw him once at Lollapalooza this year, but it was just not right seeing him do his thing outside in Grant Park midday in 90 degree weather. The perfect spot for him was in a club at night, so I was very optimistic about this one.

I believe the Congress holds somewhere around 2000 people, and for the first hour or so, it looks like barely a quarter of that was there. And to top that off, about 99% of those were under the age of 18. I was officially going to be in Dirty Old Man status at that point, I was avoiding looking around too much because a) I didn't want to give the authorities any reason to come after me, and b) I didn't want to be remnded that I was driving a car before most of those in the audience were born.

As my friend Brian wrote on his blog, I sent him and Michele (she was at home with Bella and Grandma G) a text that only said effectively "I am f-cking old." We picked out a spot at the back of the venue next to the soundboard to stay away from the kids, and to have a less embarassing spot in case we did decide to bust a move during Girl Talk's set.

There were three opening "bands" unfortunately, so it was going to be a long haul til we got to Girl Talk. The first was a rapper and dj named Hollywood Holt. They were mildly entertaining, they put on a pretty energetic set that was pretty stereotypical for a rap set (a song about butts, put your hands in the air, when I say "this," you say "that," etc.). Little did I know that was going to be the brightest spot for a while.

Next up was a rap duo whose name I have to track down again, but it really won't be worth the effort to do that. You pretty much know what you are in for when a rap duo's opening song is "Krak Attack," and it sounds just about as good as you expect. The duo went on for about 40 minutes, and their set was so bad that Brian and I had more fun laughing at it than anything else. It was also sadly the second time this year I had to see the Krak Monster perform, since he did the same thing before Girl Talk at Lollapalooza this year. It's a very sad thing when I see the Krak Monster perform more times than Radiohead in one year.

After that painful experience, the room was pretty full, and we next had to watch the "punk" band Dead End. I'm being generous calling them a punk band, since they pretty much played the same song (and were the only ones to use instruments all night) that all sounded exactly the same for another 30 or 40 minutes. They may have played a song per minute or something, I don't even know, I was pretty numb by the end of it.

The crowd was pretty stoked by the time Girl Talk was ready to take the stage, which was right around 10 pm. So yes, I thought most of the kids would have to go home soon after that for the curfew, but they instead ended up being among the 40 or 50 people up on stage dancing throughout Girl Talk's 2 hour set.

Since pretty much all of you haven't heard Girl Talk (aka dj Greg Gillis) yet, again, it's only one guy who has hundreds of samples on a laptop, and he puts together songs that you would never guess in a million years would go together well, and makes fantastic dance music out of it. One way I can describe it is that he takes hundreds of puzzles, takes bits and pieces from each puzzle, jams them all together and makes a brilliant new puzzle, and continues to do this non-stop for 2 hours straight.

The crowd ate up every moment of it, from where I could see, the whole room was dancing almost throughout the entire set. The best way I can describe it is to think of when you see a person going to a concert or dance club in a movie, and everyone in the club is dancing around like crazy, it's one of the few times a concert is actually like that, except that it's not some annoying bass beat repeating constantly for an hour.

Thankfully the crowd that surrounded us by this point was the old farts (you know, 25 year olds), so I didn't feel as bad at that point. It's one of the few times I've seen a crowd that was genuinely into a performance from beginning to end. It's also one of the few times I've ever seen people bring cameras into a show, and had 95% of the pictures taken of the crowd themselves, not everyone taking pics of the performers on the stage. It was honstely one of the best concert crowd experiences I've had, it was people thrilled to be living in the moment and actually loving being a part of this thing at that point in time.

The crowd was in Girl Talk's hands from beginning to end, roaring any time there was a mild dip in the music, and saving one of the biggest roars of the night when a Time magazine cover with Barack Obama on the front rolled on to the screen. Call it a rollover of the thrill of Tuesday night, it worked either way.

There was a brief time during the middle of the set when somehow the sound in the venue dipped to about 50% of the volume from the rest of the set, and the crowd almost all stopped dancing at that time. Gillis noticed this after a minute or two, and once he and the people working the soundboard figured out the problem, the sound was back at full volume, and the crowd roared and danced along again. Gillis also took a moment or two during the show to note that despite playing to several thousand people at Lollapalooza and various other festivals through the year, this was his biggest show ever as a headliner, and he was ecstatic and extremely appreciative to the crowd for that.

After nearly two hours of insanely great music, Gillis, now stripped down to only his boxer shorts, jumped on to the crowd and crowd surfed his way all the way to the sound board right behind us. It was a great end to the night as he stood triumphantly on the soundboard while greatfully thanking the crowd for the night once again.

I could only think that seeing Girl Talk on New Year's Eve would be one of the greatest parties on Earth (aside from seeing the Flaming Lips on NYE 2001 as I did), but assuming that word will spread about shows like this, that will be tough to get in to see. Download Feed the Animals if you haven't already, and if you ever get the opprotunity, go and see him live.

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