Girl Talk Live is Hipster Fodder
An 8.4 album rating on Pitchfork usually means one thing - check out the artist's show when they're in town, because you'll kick yourself for missing it if you don't. Night Ripper by Girl Talk scores high. It's extremely creative, precise, and for the reasons Pitchfork so appropriately described, it's not just another mashup. Add further acclaim from SPIN, Rolling Stone, and even electronic-centric mag XLR8R and you've got a lot of well-deserved hype. But the live performance Girl Talk puts on comes off as nothing more than trying-too-hard-to-be-hipster-antics.
Artists that take their performances seriously do a proper sound check - not that night. Instead we all got to wait in silence for 10 minutes as he tinkered with his his Dell laptop, then our ears popped by distorted, red-lining levels. Then he disappeared, presumably to get changed into the geeky dress shirt, necktie, and blazer getup he returned in. Just as the show got underway, the sound cut out completely. Oops. More tinkering.
Fast forward fives minutes and things very quickly got intense - it was a pure party atmosphere, with pure fun being had by all. Surrounded by a harem of young, dancing, already sweating girls who were constantly passing him beers and drooling all over him, Girl Talk would hunch over his laptop and quickly queue the next track. Off came the blazer. Between each pre-mixed selection he'd do his best freak out dance, sometimes working his way deep into the crowd. Off came the necktie.
He made his live mixing look effortless - probably because it was just that - point and clickish, one pre-mixed mashup cutting into another pre-mixed mashup. On more than one occasion and seemingly out of nowhere, the bass would begin to make the speakers fart, and the fellow working the sound board would have to make abrupt and drastic adjustments to remedy the situation. Oops. Perhaps where I come from that has tainted my perceptions? Being a long time electronic music enthusiast, I've seen countless DJ and live PA skills on a much, much higher level. He may as well have just played a CD - it would have allowed him to dance and strip uninterrupted.
What he lacked in "DJ skills" he tried to make up with frantic antics. His dancing style was somewhere between angry chicken spastic and complete seizure. He for some reason thought it would be wise to pour beer all over himself (see above photo). When the sound cut out for the third time, he grabbed a mic and tried to put a positive twist on the sound problems that were disrupting the flow. "At a good show, the sound should cut out at least ten times," he said (not verbatim). I don't buy it. Off came the shirt and pants. The myspace scenesters in the audience loved it.
Girl Talk ended the show by singing his cover of Nirvana's "Scentless Apprentice". It was awful, and the hipsters in the audience loved it.
Girl Talk doesn't appear to take things seriously. Fair enough. His live performance is not about his live musical skills. Fair enough. His studio productions are amazing and his CD deservingly has made waves. I guess when you're doing a simple laptop gig you get bored. But for me, the live set antics were contrived. It was nonsensical. It was immature. It was hipster bullshit and it was mildly entertaining only because it was an opportunity to observe the epitome of scenester culture before my very eyes.
Maybe to see and appreciate the "artistry" in this kicking scene you need to be 19 years old and easily impressed. Perhaps I'm too old and far too jaded to appreciate mediocre live musical performances.
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