Last night, Daniel and I (accompanied by my brother Cory and Daniel's wife Hattie) made the trek to Lawrence, KS to see Girl Talk in living color. It seems Mr. Gillis decided to make an October/November trip to the Kansas City area an annual event. Daniel, Hattie, and I had the opportunity to experience the madness that is a Girl Talk show for the first time last year. For some reason, this year's show was remarkably different. Though this year's set wasn't as power packed or heavy hitting as last year, the contrast between this year and last year hinged on the crowd. Let me explain what I mean.
Over the past year, Gregg Gillis' popularity has grown immensely. He is no longer the secret of pop culture savvy hipsters seeking a retreat from an indie music scene increasingly invaded by frat guys and high school kids. Now, everyone, at least most everyone 18 or older, knows Girl Talk. During last night's show, I commented that the crowd was the perfect "worlds collide" experience. There were frat guys ill-prepared to dance, "too cool" sorority girls actively ridiculing hipsters for PDA, aging hipsters, pretentious hipsters making a point to say MGMT was the "most boring band" they've ever seen live, completely inebriated college guys threatening to pour beer on Daniel's head, and the average college crowd hoping to go-out and get drunk. And then there was us. I don't know what we are.
Hattie described the crowd as aggressive. It was apparent that the majority of the crowd was unfamiliar with the standard concert-going patience and protocol. As we waited for Gregg to emerge, the crowd grew restless and rambunctious. They also grew more intoxicated, which multiplied the issues. When the show finally did start, the best term to describe the experience was inorganic. To me, it seemed as if the majority of the crowd was trying to manufacture an experience, like they wanted to recreate the YouTube videos of Girl Talk shows they had seen online. Everyone immediately rushed the stage, not so much for more room to dance but so that they could say they were on stage during the show. With so many people on stage, there wasn't any room to dance anyway. I left feeling like most people there just wanted proof that they were there: photos on stage, sweat from rubbing up against Gregg Gillis, the ability to say, "I just loved it when he played that one Notorious B.I.G. song with that Tiny Dancer song"...
The difference between this year's show and last year's show is simple; last year people went to actually experience the show, while this year the majority went to say they experienced the show. And this is why I believe Girl Talk will be a victim of his own success. The very fans that made him who he is today no longer have the room, or the patience, to dance on the dance floor. They'd move to the stage, but it's crowded with people too drunk and too preoccupied to appreciate the genius flowing through the speakers.