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Everybody Dance Now

Girl Talk, the Depot, July 30

Frank Hamilton

By Jess Harvell | Posted 8/9/2006

We like the biweekly, Sunday night Are We Not Men?! party at the Depot very much. We like mixing up DJs with punk bands, performance artists, and whatever else in an unpretentious way. We like that it's a queer-friendly space for kids alienated by traditional gay-bar culture. We like the fact that we recognized almost nothing the opening DJs were playing--except for the robotic gastrointestinal distress of Vitalic's "No Fun" and, um, the New Radicals--and that the (young) audience treated every track like it was an anthem. (Things we don't like: faux-hawks and shiny gold flats. Oh, and heels with '70s athletic shorts--did we miss a meeting or something?)

The bar was full to near capacity. The reason everyone was here--aside from drinking, dancing, being seen, and the fact that being out till 2 a.m. on a Sunday hurts less when you're 22--was Girl Talk, a Pittsburgh DJ who went from complete obscurity a few months ago to being profiled on MTV on the back of Night Ripper (Illegal Art), a mix CD that digitally mashes up nearly 300 songs.

Mash-ups, thankfully, hit their peak a few years back. Anyone with two tape players with pause buttons and enough time on his or her hands can smoosh together the history of 20th-century music. Doing so while providing the things 90 percent of people listen to music for is nearly impossible. Thankfully Night Ripper is less the work of a clever show-off than an overcaffeinated internet-age update of the '80s pop hits megamixes of the Latin Rascals and Shep Pettibone.

Outside the DJ booth, on the floor among the people á la the Fire Engines or Lighting Bolt, Mr. Girl Talk (aka Greg Gillis) set up his laptop and banged out the most ADD DJ set in history, his software puréeing the last 18 months of popular music. Hardly recycling any of Night Ripper, he real-time remixed everything from E-40's "Tell Me When to Go" to Rick Ross' "Hustlin'," pitching down Lil Scrappy until his voice spookily boomed, chopping up Crime Mob over Daft Punk's "Around the World." At least we think so--the density of Girl Talk's crunk symphonies to God were dizzying even before you factored in the alcohol and the summer heat. Usually such a musical overload would leave you slack-jawed or grinning, but amazingly you could still dance to the resulting slurry of liquefied Young Joc and Dem Franchize Boys.

And no one danced harder than Girl Talk himself. At some point, quiet Gillis, drinking unassumingly along the wall with his girlfriend, donned vest, tie, pinstriped pants, and proceeded to freak the fuck out. Gillis has said that he tired of making experimental electronic music and wanted to make Night Ripper a "straight-up party record," and it felt like the electric energy from his spastic B-boy moves was travelling straight down the mouse cable into his Mac. At one point he got bear hugged from behind, and proceeded to pull his bewildered assailant to the floor, mock 69ing with him.

And then, after 30 minutes or so, it was over. But a half-hour was the perfect length, leaving you dazed and slightly sweaty but not overwhelmed or irritated by the mash-up shtick. The DJs flicked the obscure dance tunes back on--"This is my jam!" one guy shouted--and everyone kept on moving. It's unclear how much bigger Girl Talk can get before his illegal art lands him in trouble--big chunks of Ludacris songs aren't free, after all--but hopefully he'll be back before the RIAA wolves are at his door.

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