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Weekend Notes: Girl Talk, the Chandeliers, and the Hexagon’s Smoking Porch Rules

October 13, 2008
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Girl Talk | Image by Josh Sisk

The Girl Talk live phenomenon is common knowledge at this point among people who pay attention to phenomenon in sub-mainstream music but, still: whoa. Roughly 1,400 people–specifically: white, reasonably affluent minors with “x”s on their hands–dancing to a scraggly fellow triggering and stacking brief pop music samples on a laptop. At one point I thought Girl Talk was rather fun, inoffensive, and even, occasionally, clever. Now, I just don’t know. Please don’t tell me Gregg Gillis is doing something that substantive. He’s not. (Shut the fuck up about recontextualization already.) On behalf of everyone in their bedrooms producing original dance music or writing songs in any capacity, I almost feel obligated to hate it. But, still . . . (Notably, Gillis’ fiercest critics, rockists who tend to hold him up as an argument against “computer music,” are the worst. Though Gillis’ junk did come unplugged at one point during Saturday’s show.)

As a friend puts it: “He’s a party starter.” Kids get on stage with him, get sweaty, dance to easily recognizable song snippets, split between mainstream rap, some indie and pop, and, well, the Grateful Dead (briefly). It’s like being fed pre-chewed food. I appreciate it grudgingly: while he’s not doing anything substantive, Gillis has a way as a DJ. Short of a rave, that much positive energy in a room that size (Sonar’s main room) doesn’t happen much in America. Call Gillis’ approach to his audience a bit cynical but, in that case, populism’s a bit cynical. And, in any case, they’ve got nothing on a “fun hating” critic being cynical. So, I’ll let it rest.

Chicago’s Chandeliers, who played the Hexagon the night before, are fantastic without qualification. The foursome plays a sort of DFA disco-rock that sounds as if it’s been interpreted by Tussle (minus the bass lines)–instrumental (mostly), heavily rhythmic (not house-y, really), with a shitton of synthesizer. It makes you wonder why James Murphy is signing a twee lap-pop dude like YACHT when something this great is out there. Fear of getting upstaged? Yes, it’s that good. The room, all of it, bobbed and flailed approvingly.

Also, the Hexagon ratcheted up like 10 notches on the vibe scale since changing over from the Lo Fi Social Club last spring. I can’t explain it completely. BYOB helps. And so does the new back patio, a huge Christmas light lit concrete swath of socializing. Glad to see the space being used to its potential.

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