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Girl Talk & Dan Deacon at First Avenue (Minneapolis, MN)

Published in Blog Archive, Culture Bully. Tags: , , , .

This past Friday Girl Talk rocked the post-adolescent audience late into the night, the performance culminating one of the most entertaining events First Avenue has seen all year. The term “sold out” doesn’t even cover it, as block-long lines continued to wrap around the venue a half hour after doors opened and the body of the club was already packed to capacity for the entire show. Dan Deacon kicked off the night with a set placing him in harms way as his gear was set up dead center amongst the rabid crowd. Despite Deacon & Girl Talk’s obvious draw, the night’s eye was collectively on YouTube phenomenon Tay Zonday however as he prepared to give his first public performance.

Deacon’s set immediately answered questions as to why he would be canceling a week’s worth of upcoming dates due to exhaustion. He crammed his compact gear on the floor of the venue tightly locked against the head of the stage, and within moments of his first hypnotic song the crowd became too much, Deacon began telling everyone to back up, “this isn’t a Pearl Jam concert.”

Deacon would later call for the house lights, walk to the center of the crowd and create a circle which would become the setting for one of his ongoing string of dance-offs. While this version was short lived and generally disappointing Deacon’s introduction was absolutely brilliant: a call & response between the crowd with the basic theme surrounding Deacon notifying a friend that he has lost his Netflix DVDs. Sounds surreal? The night was just beginning.

Completing his set prematurely due to the cramped surroundings Deacon lit off two of his most amazing tracks, “Silence Like The Wind” and “Trippy Green Skull” before escaping from the crowd. But it wasn’t a minute before he started to lift his gear onto the stage to make his exit that some sort of surreal anticipation began to build. Deacon had said earlier in his set, “I don’t want to disappoint Tay,” and the crowd seemed to feel a bit uncertain as the stage lay empty, hoping that it would be Tay that would not disappoint.

Performing three more songs than I knew he had (with his five song set), Tay Zonday didn’t so much disappoint as he stunned. Performing in street clothes, Tay essentially stood alone on stage, backed by a DJ off in the shadows manning the computer that played his backing tracks and lit up the TV screens around the club with Tay’s lyrics as he sang (partially for his benefit, partially so the audience could try and follow his unknown songs). Relative to other footage of him floating around the same circles that originally made him quasi-famous, he did wonderfully; especially given it was his first show ever, he’s not a performer and he was following Dan Deacon. But out of context, the set was a flop.

Instead of manning a keyboard Tay took to twenty minutes of makeshift dancing and was met with little positive response from the recently Deacon-ized crowd. Given his position he couldn’t have done better, but the performance of spotty novelty tracks and spastic dancing was disappointing all the same.

Just as the crowd began to resolve a sense of what they had just seen Gregg Gillis took the stage accompanied only by his computers and silenced everyone. Gillis’ time alone on stage would be short lived however as he invited the audience up to join him to truly kick off Girl Talk’s set. The performance delivered pounding energy from the very start as the crowded stage grinded and thrusted about all throughout Gillis’ heart pumping set.

Though Girl Talk’s delivery was both brilliant to watch and dance to, the night belonged to Deacon who honestly gave everything he had for the sake of his performance, entertaining while neglecting to take himself nor the situation too seriously. Enjoy your break Dan, you deserve it.