Watching someone kick over a laptop will never be as visceral or exciting as watching someone smash a guitar on stage. However, that being said, one would be hard-pressed to find an audience member from Girl Talk’s recent show at the Calvin Theatre who would readily agree with such a statement.
Indeed, after enduring 90 minutes of mashed-up pop, floor rattling beats and a seizure-inducing light show, many who walked out of the venue Saturday appeared spent both physically and mentally. Moments earlier DJ Gregg Gillis (aka Girl Talk) had described the air inside the Calvin as “like an ocean,” and given the frenetic dancing that had been taking place all night long, quite a sweat had definitely been worked up by everyone involved.
Taking the stage punctually around 9 p.m. in front of a gigantic LED setup that projected the words Girl Talk amidst a background of flames, Gillis got right to business and his workmanlike approach was relentless. In fact, the first lull in the show’s sonic assault didn’t occur until almost 15 minutes into the set, which given the breathless pacing of the music is saying quite a lot.
If you have listened to Top 40 radio at any point in the last several decades, a snippet of something you heard before was probably featured in one of Girl Talk’s “songs.” Ludacris, Black Sabbath, the Spencer Davis Group, Nirvana, Nicki Minaj, Lady Gaga – the list could go on. While many samples only lasted seconds, audience members could repeatedly be seen mouthing the words to tracks they knew. Perhaps one of the greatest examples of this was during Girl Talk’s sampling of the Isley Brothers’ “Shout.” Though the mix never actually featured the iconic chorus, dozens reacted to the build-up anyway, easily proving the headliner’s command over the room.
Also proving Girl Talk’s knowledge of giving the people what they want was the repeated introduction of props into what had become a seething dance floor. Stage hands fired toilet paper guns over the crowd, confetti cannons went off at pre-determined junctures, and not only balloons, but also large confetti filled balls and inflated bags were tossed to the audience for both play and destruction.
After guiding those assembled through an hour’s worth of one climax after another, Girl Talk never left the stage before returning with an encore of sorts that ended up lasting far longer than the “one more minute” he had initially promised.
Stripped down to just his pants, covered in sweat and standing atop the table holding his laptop, Girl Talk shared with everyone that the night of the show was his Saturday night too. He had no concert to drive to on Sunday, and he was here to party, a fact later proven by his appearance at the Eleven’s later in the evening to catch local act Bunnies. One final, deafening crescendo later he left the stage to enthusiastic cheers. But the echoes of his performance will ring on for days to come. I know my ears are still feeling it.
Watch Girl Talk “take it up a notch” during his show at the Calvin Theatre in Northampton here:
Also performing at the start of the night, Northampton duo Home Body provided an unpredictable half-hour set of distorted electro-pop. Featuring layered synthesizers, looped vocals and a half dozen “backup dancers,” Eric Hnatow and Haley Morgan slowly won over the early crowd with sheer force and energy. Morgan’s strong voice in particular was a highlight even when it wasn’t being modified, but it was Hnatow who almost stole the show with a raucous finale of Suicide’s “Dream Baby Dream.”
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