CLEVELAND, Ohio — When the curtains at the Cleveland House of Blues opened at 9 p.m. Thursday night, Girl Talk — aka Gregg Gillis — took to the stage, jumping onto the table that contained only her laptop and a few other pieces of music. ‘equipment
A quick boost for the crowd, then off to the races. The mashup musician launched into a tight 90-minute set that was packed with hundreds of songs mixed in with his brand of highly danceable concoctions.
Plus, there was also a lot of added fun: heaps of confetti, falling balloons, audience members dancing on stage, streamers pouring out into the crowd. Stage lights illuminated billowing clouds and palm trees surrounding the musician, bursting with color and flashing in time to the tunes.
It was a total party, centered on Gillis and the start of his spring tour.
The nearly sold-out event marked Girl Talk’s first gig after a two-and-a-half-year hiatus due to the pandemic. (The House of Blues concert itself has been pushed back from its original 2020 date.) The rest of the tour resumes in April, with dates in the United States.
After a hiatus from live performances, we could expect a little rust on Girl Talk’s big comeback. But Gillis was just as training and fit as ever, only revealing his fatigue towards the end of the show, with a comment about feeling he might vomit from exhaustion.
The musician was covered in sweat – after removing his shirt in the final third of the show, Gillis shone under the stage lights, bits of confetti stuck to his back.
The fatigue made sense. Gillis jumped around his space on stage, banging his head wildly during his songs. He didn’t just click the “play” button on his laptop – Gillis has an impressive ability to build his songs live, triggering samples and noises from his laptop, sometimes dozens at a time. , to create their own rhythmic and perfectly synchronized songs. .
In these new creations, there are many pieces of music that you will recognize, appearing in unexpected ways. Bruce Springsteen and Busta Rhymes and Elton John and Lil Wayne and The Cure and Missy Elliott and Miley Cyrus and Grimes and… the list goes on.
And this list does not stop.
Gillis is constantly adding samples of new tunes that are hitting the airwaves; at the Cleveland show, which included Lil Nas X, Cardi B and Saweetie. Bass drops aligned with Gayle’s hit “ABCDEFU” and the bouncy beat of Dua Lipa’s “Levitating” also worked their way into the mix.
Carefully calibrated and perfectly on time (the event ended at the balmy 10:30 p.m. weekday hour), Girl Talk was packed with fun for a city it said it loved.
Mentioning his decades-long connection to northeast Ohio, Gillis said in a pre-show interview that Cleveland was the perfect starting point for the tour. The artist formed Girl Talk while studying at Case Western Reserve University; he released his debut album “Secret Diary” in 2002 and its 2004 follow-up “Unstoppable” just a month before graduating from CWRU in 2004.
In those early days, Gillis opened up for tours at The Grog Shop or Speak in Tongues.
At the House of Blues, Gillis hosted opening act Hugh Augustine for a vibey hip-hop opening set. As ticket holders filtered through the venue, Augustine skimmed through songs like “14 Karats,” “Slide,” and “Roll a Blunt.” Augustine also shared a bit about her restaurant pop-up Hugh’s Hot Bowlswhich was featured in Vice and enjoy your food.
The crowd was lukewarm for Augustine, seemingly saving her energy for Girl Talk – and then, that energy was met twice by Gillis.
Although Gillis didn’t mention it on Thursday night, he has new Girl Talk music on the way. A collaborative album with Wiz Khalifa, Big KRIT and Smoke DZA titled “Full Court Press” is due out on April 18. More information on girltalkmusic.com.
See more photos from the show in the gallery at the top of this article.
Get the weekend off to a good start and Register for cleveland.com weekly “In the CLE” email newsletter, your essential guide to the best things to do in Greater Cleveland. It’ll hit your inbox on Friday morning – an exclusive to-do list, focused on the best of weekend fun. Restaurants, music, movies, performing arts, family fun and more. Click here to subscribe. All cleveland.com newsletters are free.