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Because I was emceeing our Musicians Showcase down the street at Sticky Fingerz, I only caught about 10 minutes of Girl Talk at Revolution on Thursday. But I saw enough.
In all my years of going to shows here, I've never witnessed such mass hysteria. When I walked in, around 11:45 p.m., midway through the DJ's 75-minute set, my glasses fogged up instantly. It must've been 30 degrees hotter inside the club than out.
Young, mostly white, hipsters were grinding everywhere. On a riser on the raised level. In the VIP perch. On the stairs, against the railing, back by the bar. I didn't even think about venturing into the pit. It spilled over onto the stage and looked like it would swallow you up.
Everyone, even those lost in music and drink, oriented around the lanky white kid on stage, who spent the whole time I was there (and surely most of the show) hunkered over a laptop, rising occasionally to shout out Little Rock or to take off his shirt and wave it around.
If past shows are any indication, he probably did a lot more than I witnessed to get the crowd hype, but all the laptop hovering? That's about as exciting as watching your buddy scan his iPod at a house party.
Not that it takes anything away from the music. I love Girl Talk's latest album “Feed the Animals.” Like I said in my preview of the show, it's awesomely omnivorous. Every song is packed with dozens of “ah ha!” moments of recognition.
But I'm not sure dance floor populism, as I've termed the music before, fits.
The cynic in me thinks the appeal lies more in making rap palatable to white kids through a filter of nostalgic pop. (Each song is built around dozens of samples of disparate genres, almost always over rap.) How many times have you heard someone say, “I don't like rap, but I like it in a Girl Talk song?”
Of course, there's nothing wrong with that. Especially, if it's introducing folks to new music.
This less cynical side of me says “hooray” for dance music and the youth of Central Arkansas's embrace of it. The hysteria surrounding the show could be one big confluence of a new (or at least new-ish) enthusiasm for dance music and, especially, the thrill of a big name, as a commenter suggested on my blog.
Still, what a post-modern development. Name DJs have built careers on touring for years, but the act of performing, of creating something new, through blends or scratching or sampling or whatever, has always been part of the package. Girl Talk makes really sophisticated audio collages at home and then gets onstage and, more or less, pushes play.
And the kids go crazy.
(The same kids are on me for an earlier version of this review on Rock Candy. There's a lively discussion going on. Join in.)