People can say what they want about North Coast. Its detractors often point to their dislike of the mix of rave and hippie elements. Those folks still have Pitchfork. But for the millennials that are now fueling the booming concert business, it's all about the party—and this is something the North Coast organizers have down to a science. Central to the formula on the fest's second day was Girl Talk, the quintessential musical act for the iPod Shuffle generation.
If mash-up was once a term reserved for hip-hop heads and DJs, Girl Talk has single-handedly changed that. See, Girl Talk doesn't actually make music of his own. Instead, he's an expert collagist taking upwards of three or four sample sources at a time and reconfiguring them into a delightful cacophony of just about every party jam you can think of. Ever wonder what Tyga's "Rack City" might sound like if it were combined with M83's "Midnight City"? Well, if you were one of the thousands pushing your way up to the main stage last night, you found out. You also found out what N.E.R.D. sounds like jamming over Bruce Springsteen's "Dancing in the Dark," what the Ramone's sound like when they get their freak on with Missy Elliott and what Pitbull would sound like if he were a slice of AM gold, singing on "Louie Louie" as a member of the Kingsmen.
At its root, Girl Talk is just Gregg Michael Gillis clicking away on stage with his computer and a mouse. Sure, there's little to look at from a performance perspective, but that's the business of chin scratchers. Girl Talk's faithfuls come to dance, and a handful even got the opportunity to do so onstage. A Typical Girl Talk show—which, if you hadn't already guessed, is anything but typical—sees a few dozen adoring fans allowed onto the stage toward the set's end to dance it out with Gillis in his final moments. This time, Girl Talk threw caution to the wind, inviting them up first thing. At least 30 colorful boys and girls hung tight for the entire show, dancing and assisting with Gillis' signature launching of toilet paper into the crowd.
Originally a minor player in the Pittsburgh noise scene, Gillis launched Girl Talk as a social experiment of sorts, an intellectual commentary on repurposed sound. Over the last decade, this experiment has grown into a monster all its own. He may only be one man armed with a laptop, but when he's harnessing Jay-Z, M.I.A., the Beastie Boys and Adele the way he does, Girl Talk becomes so much more than any one band could dream of.