Girl Talk at the Gargoyle: Hip-Hop, Electro, Tasers and the Police

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[Ed. Note, Thursday, November 15, 7:20 p.m.: For a more detailed account of the incident at the Gargoyle, including an update on the student tased and what has happened in the intervening week, please see this blogpost. -- Annie Zaleski]

Tonight was the big sold-out Girl Talk show at the Gargoyle. I've been stoked about it for a few months now, after loving its album Night Ripper for a long time now. For the unfamiliar, Girl Talk is the name under which Gregg Gillis records, when he mashes together hip-hop, electro, '90s jams and anything else he can find to make a collage of catchy, booty-bumping tunes.

The show was crowded, but not terribly so, and I was ready to d.a.n.c.e. I showed up early enough to catch a bit of TheDeathSet, who reminded me a lot of Death From Above 1979, as they played super-fast electro-punk with a clubby, Nintendo bent. (The fact they played snippets of quality songs in between their own tunes, such as Prince's "Erotic City" and INXS "New Sensation," was also choice.)

Then Gillis set up onstage, soundchecked and started his gig, with the amusing announcement: "Hello St. Louis! I played the Lemp Neighborhood Arts Center in 2003, and zero motherfuckers showed up! Where were you guys?" (Seriously, St. Louis, what?) He fired up the beats and began to "play" his show, which mostly consists of him splicing up songs and beats to create one giant dance party.

And that's when the trouble started.

First, people in the crowd immediately jumped onstage, packing the tiny space. Now, this is the "thing" to do at Girl Talk shows, but Gillis seemed to be having trouble with the crush of people; the sound kept fading in and out and the show was stopped at one point until people left the stage, ostensibly (and understandably) for security reasons.

This obviously made it hard for Gillis to really catch a groove and develop any flow, even though the crowd was largely into it. (Homeboy in the Dave Matthews Band T-shirt was breaking it down mad good, let me tell you, as were other circles of people all around the perimeter of the venue.) Several times he told the crowd to stop pushing forward, and overall the sound was quiet. I kept wanting the dance jams to be somehow...more.

Thankfully, about half an hour into it, things started getting good. Missy Elliott. A Daft Punk-Beach Boys mash-up. A Nirvana bassline. Quad City DJ's "C'mon Ride It (The Train)." Yacht rock. Smashing Pumpkins. A bit of Tears for Fears' "Shout." "Whoomp! There It Is." A Kelly Clarkson mash-up of "Since U Been Gone" that made the entire place erupt in hands-in-the-air jumping. Fergie.

And then all of a sudden, about an hour into the gig, the power was abruptly cut to the stage, and the main Gargoyle lights went up. Confusion reigned, as people were told to leave the venue as the police were coming.

Keegan Hamilton -- who was poppin' and lockin' along with me during the show -- talked to a few people there, and filed the following report here.

It goes without saying that the gig was a huge disappointment, mainly due to the bad vibes surrounding the crowd. I hope that Gillis doesn't take this gig -- and I guess his 2003 one -- as a reflection of the city as a whole.

-- Annie Zaleski

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