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Mash-up artist closes out Springfest 2011
The blue lights illuminating the Grant Gymnasium went out, bringing an explosion of noise from hundreds of awaiting fans. As the seconds ticked by, the audience got more and more anxious. Arms went up, slow claps started, cell phone flashlights shook in the air and a chant overtook the crowd.
“Girl Talk! Girl Talk! Girl Talk!”
After another three minutes, 29-year-old Gregg Gillis, the artist behind the digital mash-up project known as Girl Talk, ran on stage.
“This is my Saturday night, this is your Saturday night, can we do this right now?”
And the show began.
Gillis, behind a laptop, started a mash-up of Ludacris and Black Sabbath. Fans from the crowd were invited to dance on stage, and the stage quickly became chaotic. Several men shot toilet paper into the crowd, using rolls attached to leaf blowers. Glow stick bracelets could be seen bouncing in the air from the dancing bodies in the crowd.
Student Activities chose Girl Talk to perform for Webster University’s SpringFest 2011 Concert held on April 16.
“Since it’s different genres of music, there should be something to appeal to everyone,” said Candace Hall, graduate student and head of Campus Activities.
The event sold out of its 400 tickets for non Webster students earlier in the day. By the end of the night the total number, including Webster students, had reached 750.
The concert at Webster was the last of a three-day college tour for Girl Talk, preceded by universities in Detroit and Chicago.
Since 2002, Girl Talk has released five albums, including the most recent “All Day,” which was released for free online in November of last year. Gillis takes pieces from songs both new and old and blends them with other songs to create fast-paced dance music.
“I like Girl Talk because I like to move,” said senior music composition major Mike Murano. “I get the sense that he’s perfected the craft with (“All Day”). The others were good, but I feel like he’s really come into his own with this one.”
As the set continued, even the security guards near the back of the room were bobbing their heads with smiles on their faces. Seniors Rachel Pallante and Maegen Harris weaved through the crowd with their hula hoops, Harris’s hoop with flashing LED lights mocking the lights on the stage.
On the stage, Gillis stood on top of a riser, leaning closer to the crowd, clapping and swaying.
“Come on, Webster, right now,” he said.
Throughout the 80-minute set, the music never stopped for more than 30 seconds. The crowd sang and danced along to songs such as “Rude Boy” by Rihanna, “You Make Me Wanna Shout” by Little Richie, “1901” by Phoenix and “Party in the U.S.A.” by Miley Cyrus. In addition to the toilet paper, confetti and giant balloons rained down on the audience.
At 10:50 Gillis began his final round of mash-ups as the crowd gave a final burst of energy and noise. More confetti was released and two giant pool inflatables were thrown out into the audience and tossed around. After another 15 minutes, hundreds of balloons were released from a net on the ceiling as the night wound down.
“One more time, St. Louis, thanks for coming out. Let’s bring this home right now,” he said.
As the final song came to a close, the stage lights went dark and the gym lights buzzed to life. The muggy gym slowly began to empty as the theme song to “Jurassic Park” played. The floor of the gym was left a mess of paper confetti, popped balloons, toilet paper and glow sticks.
Seniors Rob Leavell and Sabrina Reveron said they have gone to every SpringFest concert since they have been at Webster, and Girl Talk was the best next to The Roots.
“The end, when the balloons came, just the colors — it was a moment,” Reveron said. “It’s like, it’s time to graduate.”
As the last of the 750 attendees filed outside, Leavell reflected on the concert. He said the songs in the set were organized well, which kept the energy up in the room.
“The whole room was full of positive energy,” Leavell said. “And I bet if you asked Gregg he’d say the same thing. It’s all about positive vibes.”