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Thursday, December 18, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 21.0° F  Overcast
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Girl Talk explodes with energy at Madison show
Gregg Gillis (Girl Talk) performs on a laptop for his set at Club 770 on Saturday night.
Credit:Kyle Pfister

If Madison crowds always brought the energy they offered Girl Talk at Club 770 this weekend, the local music scene would be unstoppable. This sold-out show was put on by the Wisconsin Union Directorate music committee and portrayed the university at its sweaty, enthusiastic finest.

Man Man co-headlined the impressive bill with an exotic passion that could only be eclipsed by the most exciting live DJ show currently on tour. On any other night, the band's innovative pairing of metallic growls and yelping falsettos would have illuminated the traditional bar classic "English Bwudd" as the show's highlight. Though the crowd came for Girl Talk, Man Man's performance and pink sweatbands were well received and established the night's outrageous party atmosphere.

Dressed in a gray shirt, Gregg Gillis carefully arranged stage equipment in between sets with an ignorable meticulousness that attracted nobody's attention. The girl in the front row even unknowingly assembled his microphone. But when the lights were turned down and he returned to the stage as his DJ alter ego, Girl Talk, the room exploded with energy.

Gregg touched outstretched hands ringed with neon-glow bracelets like he was the president of the dance floor. His recorded musical introduction gradually deconstructed into a unanimous chant of "Girl, Talk," which became the beat for his first sample from Night Ripper's "Hold Up."

The crowd responded with a resounding push that knocked over a column speakers, whose impact with the ground were covered by the pounding bass. Obviously modeling past performances they'd watched on YouTube, the crowd rushed the stage and covered every square inch with uninhibited dancing.

They seemed to be trying to construct an unorganized pyramid on stage by piling people in layers just like the samples coming from Gregg's silver laptop. The entire scene was at risk of a massive head, neck, or spinal injury.

For those expecting to hear whole tracks from the acclaimed album Night Ripper, the performance format more closely resembled a standard DJ set than the intricate, diverse, and cleverly sampled songs on the album. Gregg instead focused too heavily on mid-Nineties pop favorites that hit the emotional beats of drunken students at bar time with minimal effort.

The sound dropped to an annoying buzz several times as a result of the chaotic partying, and once even fell to silence and forced the stage to be emptied. But the energy couldn't be shaken, visualized by Gregg ripping his white undershirt to pieces and revealing the pale, scrawny reality behind his club-thumping sound.

Eventually he launched himself into the audience during a mix of Nirvana's "Lithium" with Justin Timberlake's "My Love." He remained attached to the stage by his microphone chord to finish a rendition of "Whoop There It Is" over the Smashing Pumpkins.

Here, in the middle of the crowd, he ended the show. The halogen lights flashed on to squelch the possibility of an encore, illuminating a ragged crowd wringing the sweat out of their shirts, locating their friends, and walking their sore dance legs home.

Kyle Pfister also publishes I'm Just Sayin Is All....

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