Hundreds of wrists, hugged by lime green plastic bands, waved in unison toward Gregg Gillis, the music producer and mash-up DJ who performed to a sold-out crowd in Douglass Dining Center on Saturday, March 22, with special guest Emilio Rojas. Girl Talk’s premiere at UR proved to be an overwhelming success as the show resulted in head banging, grinding and lots of dancing. Gillis incorporated songs from his popular CDs “Secret Diary,” “Unstoppable” and “Night Ripper” into the night’s performance, leaving the student body awed by his immeasurable creativity.
Gillis began making music as a student at Case Western Reserve University and is now based in Pittsburgh, Pa. He specializes in sample-based remixes in which he uses at least a dozen elements from different songs to create a “new” song. Tracks such as “Once Again,” “That’s my DJ” and “Minute by Minute” are all featured on Girl Talk’s latest CD, “Night Ripper.” Each individual song can contain a collaboration of up to 20 or 25 collective songs by artists such as Ciara, MIA, Eminem, Jay-Z, Lil’ Wayne, 50 cent, Beyonc Knowles, Fall Out Boy, Kanye West and Notorious B.I.G. among other recognizable artists. The smooth transitions from one artist’s piece to the next add flavor to the overall exhilaration of the music.
Throughout the course of the night, students trekked through the boundless crowd in attempts to come face to face with Gillis. Douglass felt like a sauna with audience members packed together without an inch of free space. Attendees were thrilled to be in Girl Talk’s presence and danced the night away, jumping, singing, crowd-surfing and immersing themselves in the music.
“Girl Talk was absolutely amazing,” freshman Renato Rengifo said. “I had the chance to stand right behind him as he mixed the music, and it was probably one of the most astounding experiences of my life. I don’t know if it was the fact that I got kicked in the face multiple times by crowd surfers or the fact that I was perpetually pushing back against the force of dozens and dozens of people trying to get a glimpse of the legendary DJ, but as I danced to the music and pushed bodies away from my head, there was no other place I wanted to be.”
Students from all classes mouthed the same words while girls in stilettos tapped to the same beat as boys in converse. It was obvious from the variety of students that this was an event that attracted students interested in a wide variety of music.
“It was awesome,” freshman Cameron Riley said, describing the performance in quite simple terms. “I can’t wait for ‘Feed the Animals.'” “Feed the Animals” is Girl Talk’s newest anticipated CD, expected to be released this coming spring as a follow-up to “Night Runner” on Illegal Art.
Freshman Bryan Brown seemed to overcome his initial apprehension toward the act.
“I went in skeptical about a ‘concert’ for a glorified DJ,” he said. “However, in addition to having a great time at a dance party, I became more appreciative of Girl Talk’s unique modern art form.”
Unlike a typical concert, Girl Talk’s performance was overpowering with the constant and dominating participation on behalf of students. Gillis even said that he encourages people to get on stage and dance.
“I feel strange calling ourselves an audience. We were part of it – we were the ones that gave it life,” Rengifo said. Without the interaction between Girl Talk and students and the culmination of catchy tunes, the experience would never have been nearly as compelling.
Gillis has become quite famous for spontaneously removing the majority of his clothing during his performances. However, he still remains respected in a span of different areas as a man with an emerging, brilliant talent. Many truly enjoyed it when, after the performance, he got up and spoke with a mountain of people surrounding him on stage.
“He depicted himself as a normal guy and really made the concert feel like a collaborative effort to have a good time,” Brown said. “It was almost as though he broke the fourth wall with his audience in a very cool way.”
Miller is a member of the class of 2011.