The Olympics & Clubland, Mick Jagger Turns 69

With major events starting this weekend, the million-pound question is this: how will the Olympics affect clubland?

The time difference between London and New York has events slated between 4am and 6pm. The ability and the where-with-all to record shows for later viewing has increased sharply over the years. Will this Olympics be the TIVO Olympics, or will the public miss most of it or take sick days to see relevant events? In hospitality, sports bars will open early to accommodate viewers, and their bottom line will get a boost. Sports bars thrive during the NFL and College Football seasons, but baseball and its boys of summer rarely attract big crowds. The added revenue stream is a blessing.

Will clubbers be too tired to party hardy at night? Will they leave joints early because they plan on staying awake or getting up early to catch Michael Phelps live or a USA basketball team game? Will mid-day or afternoon beers slow sales at night?  My bet is that the only effect these Olympics will have on clubland is they’ll probably upgrade the small talk and pick-up lines.

I’m excited about the inaugural Catalpa Festival on Randall’s Island this weekend. It’s a 1pm-11pm affair on Saturday and Sunday with such acts as Hercules and Love Affair, TV On The Radio, The Black Keys, Matt+ Kim, and Girl Talk performing.  Snoop Doog will perform “Doggystyle” in its entirety. There is a reggae stage and a dance music venue with names like Alex English, Felix Da Housecat, and Hellfire Machina involved.

While I’m DJing at Hotel Chantelle tonight with Sam Valentine and Jes Leopard, another rocker event will be rocking at Sullivan Room. The party, called “Take Back New York," will celebrate Nicki Camp & Kerry Robinson’s belated birthdays.

Belated is right: Nicki was born on July 1st. I bet he’s telling folks he’s 29. I worked with Nicki when he ran those Sunday Rock and Roll Church nights at Limelight and kept in touch when he plied his trade at Don Hill’s. Tonight there will be performances by the New York All-Stars (Shannon Conley, Nicki Camp, Jimi K. Bones, Dave Purcell, Adam James, Al Mars), with special guests Michael T & The Vanities.

The soiree will be hosted by Lourdes Castellon and Ahmed Adil, and DJ Victor Auton will spin rock, metal, glam, and alternative throughout the night. I always liked Nicki and I wish him a belated 29th birthday.

Speaking of rockers, my favorite craggly-faced old bastard Mick Jagger celebrates his 69th birthday today. That makes me feel old, yet on some level, a bit young. I’ll have my editor link you back to last year’s article, which sums up my feelings toward Mick. The bottom line is that my set tonight will be top heavy with Rolling Stones tracks, and I’ll toast to Mick as I look forward to the 50th Anniversary Tour, which I hear will be pushed back to 2013. Somehow, a 51st Anniversary Tour sounds dodgy.

That Girl Talk Cover Band Is Doing Originals Now

About a year ago, we told you about Walk the Talk, a Chicago-based quintet that bills itself as the world’s first (and still perhaps only) cover band dedicated to recreating the experiences of Girl Talk, the popular mashup artist, dance party curator and attracter of neon and spandex-clad revelers. The group has been recording and doing more shows (I saw them perform at Goose Island in Chicago not too long ago and actually had a really good time, if that’s your kind of thing), and have recently begun incorporating their own original Gregg Gillis-esque mashups into their repertoire.

They’ve released a new recording of one, titled "Doin’ Big Things," which combines some familiar elements in the same manner, including Usher’s "Yeah!" with Justice’s "D.A.N.C.E." and Electric Light Orchestra’s "Don’t Bring Me Down" with Robyn’s "Dancing On My Own." And it works! Who’da thunkit? 

You can listen to "Doin’ Big Things" in its entirety at the group’s Bandcamp page or watch footage of a show at Roosevelt University in Chicago from about a year ago. Their stage game has improved since then, but this should give you some idea of what you’re in for with the world’s first Girl Talk cover band. 

Download Girl Talk’s New Album for Free

Greg Gillis, sole proprietor of Girl Talk, wants you to put in your ear buds this morning and tune out the world. His new album, All Day, is available for free download right here. Talk about a good way to make sure no one asks if you’ve got a case of the Mondays.

You don’t need to put in an e-mail address or anything else personal or hacker-prone. Just help yourself to all 71 minutes and 373 samples. If you need Gillis, by the way, he’ll be on tour for the better part of forever. When he comes to your town, we suggest you take the advice of track number four.

Backstage at Bonnaroo: Yeasayer & Girl Talk

We spent a pleasant Saturday at the ‘Roo under blue skies and only a moderate amount of mud and standing water. Right in the middle of some dedicated people-watching, when we thought life couldn’t possibly get any better, we snagged a few treasured minutes with Chris Keating, lead singer of Brooklyn-based band Yeasayer, and Gregg Gillis, the sometimes controversial mash-up DJ known as Girl Talk. Gregg attracted a monstrous crowd for his 2:30 a.m. set on Friday night, and Yeasayer, directly followed by MGMT, filled the house and killed it at their late-night Saturday show. Luckily for those in attendance, they threw in a few very catchy tracks from their soon-to-be-released album. MGMT followed suit, and although every single one of the festival’s pseudo hippies/wannabe hipsters was there to pay tribute, no one was feeling their new tunes.

What types of venues are better for your music? Chris Keating: Festivals can be really great because obviously the energy can be amazing from so many people, but I don’t like it when people are 40 feet back. We played Lollapalooza, and there were so many people, they went on forever, but you couldn’t really see anyone. They were so far away. We also did this whole summer of festivals in Europe, and the one show I really remember was when we played at a bar with 100 kids in Zurich. It was right in between all of these festivals. We just stopped at this bar, played a show. It was so good even with the crappy sound system, being sweaty, we couldn’t even all fit on the stage.

You’ve called your music “Middle Eastern psych snap gospel.” Help us with this one. CK: You just have to write definitions sometimes, and people run with it. That’s it. I’m never going to say it again. I was listening to a lot of Middle Eastern music at the time; I like gospel music; I like Jermaine Dupri southern snap. It’s hard to define our music. It’s better than “Contemporary Brooklyn.” If anyone calls us “Freak Folk,” I’ll be really pissed off.

Are you playing with any new gadgets? CK: We have two new drummers. We have a percussionist names Ahmed who was born in Sudan and has played with Of Montreal before. Now he’s part of our band for the next touring cycle. We have a whole new thing going.

Where do you hang out in Brooklyn? CK: Madiba in Fort Greene with South African food. I really like the Oyster Bar in Grand Central Terminal. I hang out at Glasslands a fair amount. We played a “test show” there before we came out here. No one was allowed to come except our sound guy and the bartenders.

Hype us up about the new album … CK: We really pushed electronics on this new record. We’re trying to mash up some new genres. I was listening to some industrial music that I hadn’t heard before that my wife got me into. We mixed a lot of that with some really pretty sounds to get a little more edge to our music. I’m really, really excited about a lot of the sonic textures. A lot of the songwriting is undeniably dancey. I want some of these songs to be club bangers … as much as Yeasayer would do a club banger. This shit is remix-ripe. I think we matured a lot as we were playing shows over the last couple years, since the last record was so ethereal, this is just very focused and very pop. People may hate, people may like it. But I’m stoked.

How did Bonnaroo act as a forum for your music? Gregg Gillis: The organizers were very relaxed, which was cool. I think it was good that I was going last and went on a bit late and beyond that, I come from a background where I used to play very short sets. For many years I rarely played for more than 20 minutes. Last night, they gave me an hour and a half slot, and typically, I don’t like to play that long. I can accomplish what I want to accomplish in an hour, and it can be very intense, and people can go nuts in that hour. I actually prepared more music than I’ve ever prepared to fill that hour and a half. No one stopped me from playing the full time slot, even though we went on late. We didn’t have much security on stage, and people were climbing over the barricade more than they expected, and it got out of control at the beginning — which is typical at a club, not so much at a festival. I liked that. I don’t want things to end, and I don’t want people to get hurt, but I want some level of chaos and I want it to be a free for all.

During your set, the digital screen kept flashing the phrase, “I’m Not A DJ.” Aren’t you a DJ? GG: For six years when I existed on a much smaller level; I had never, ever gotten an offer to do a DJ gig or play as a DJ. Once things started to pick up a bit, we started getting all these offers like, “Can you play three hours at this place.” And I’d never really played over an hour. I had to keep specifying, even though you think this would be cool, that’s not the style of show I play. With any band, you pick an identity, and you make music within that world. A big effort with Girl Talk, for me, has been keeping people from steering it into this dance club world. I never wanted to be up in a booth, and I never just want to be just playing songs. I want to have stuff that’s going to be transformative. Ideally, even though it’s based on samples, I want people to view it as an original music project. It’s an abstract concept and that’s half the fun. I like to push the way people think about what is original music.

How do you feel aboutfans trying to catalogue every song you play in a set? GG: It raises the bar for me when people are bootlegging shows and keeping track of sample listings. Every show has a million YouTube hits and people get to hear what I play every night. Last night, I played bits and pieces of stuff that I worked on during my layover in the airport. It’s exciting that I can make something in the airport, play it, and then it’s forever documented on YouTube. It definitely puts pressure on myself. I can’t just play a show today that would be completely different from last night. It would take me a really long time to do that. I know that people come out to multiple shows, and I like to be in touch with what they’re thinking as much as possible. It makes me want to work a lot more.
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Girl Talk Takes a Facebook Survey

Did you ever just want to get to know someone for who they really are? Well, there’s no better way than a silly survey culled straight from the annals of Facebook, so we asked mashup maestro Gregg Gillis, a.k.a. Girl Talk, to take some time from unpacking his newly minted apartment and reveal his true self.

Have you ever seen a dead body? I was driving around in high school and spotted a body laying in the middle of the road. He wasn’t moving. My friends and I called the cops. We circled back 15 minutes later. The cops were there, and he still wasn’t moving. I think he was dead.

What should we do with stupid people? We should all start a band that totally rips.

How long do you think you will live? I’m going for 100.

What was the first thing you did this morning? Answered my phone for an interview.

The color of carpet in your bedroom? Grey.

Last person you went out to dinner with? Stitch-Money.

Are you spoiled? Anytime I stop over my parents house, they hook up a strong meal. I don’t cook, so I feel spoiled there.

Do you drink lots of water? Yes. I love water.

What toothpaste do you use? I don’t have a steady brand. Right now, I’m jamming Aquafresh.

How do you vent your anger? I’ll play basketball aggressively.

The last compliment you received? DaManda, from Myspace, just said “the album rules!! wish you were coming to NY sooner!”

What are you doing this weekend? On Friday, I’m playing a college show in Hartford, CT. On Saturday, I’m playing a college show in Lewiston, ME.

When was the last time you threw up? I threw up in my mouth, just a little bit, on Friday morning when I woke up.

Is your best friend a virgin? No.

What theme does your room have? “Just moved in.”

When was the last time you were at a party? Saturday night … I went to a party after a show at Boston University.

Are you a mama’s child or a daddy’s child? I think Daddy’s.

Would you ever join the military? No.

The last website you visited?

Who was the last person you took a picture with? Strangers at the party in Boston.

Last person you went to the movies with? Kendall.

What did you do/will you do for your birthday this year? I will be in LA on tour. I have the day off though. I imagine everyone who’s on the tour with me will be excited to relax and do nothing.

Number of layers on your bed? It varies, but probably three right now.

Is anything alive in your room? No.

Today, would you rather go back a week or go forward a week? I had a good week. I could go back and repeat.

What are you looking forward to right now? I’m looking forward to getting a six-inch sub from Get Go and checking out what movies are available at Red Box in about 10 minutes.

Music for September: Brazilian Girls to Girl Talk

Brazilian Girls, New York City (Verve Forecast). As the title of their art-groovy third album suggests, Brazilian Girls make music for urban spaces: airports, nightclubs, deserted streets. The trio — only one of whom is female, and Italian — are residents of New York City but citizens of the world. There are songs here in four languages, about “St. Petersburg,” “Berlin” and a plethora of cities name-checked in “Internacional.” Riff genius, immaculate drummer and fashion diva: The Girls resemble Blondie more and more every year. And that’s a good thing. — Evelyn McDonnell

Girl Talk, Feed the Animals (Illegal Art). On his fourth album, Gregg “Girl Talk” Gillis, the math-pop master of layered remixes, multiplies his sonic equations to irksome effect. The tracks are too dense for their own good, despite outstanding moments: Avril Lavigne’s abysmal “Girlfriend” is apotheosized into a hip-hop anthem courtesy of Jay-Z’s big pimpin’, and M.I.A.’s politico wail suffuses the Cranberries’ plaintive “Dreams” with spark. The problem here is that Gillis seems a little precious about his gimmick, overheats his laptop and ultimately leaves listeners unable to fully appreciate his ingenious proofs. — Nick Haramis

The Verve, Forth (On Your Own). From the Pixies to the Stooges, rock has reunion fever, and now Britpop’s finest has joined the trend. On Forth, the Verve’s long-awaited fourth album, “Sit And Wonder” evokes the band’s early tribal psychedelia, while “Rather Be” suggests the soulful country-rock of Urban Hymns. “Love Is Noise,” meanwhile, is an anthem that would sound great bouncing off the rafters at Wembley. — Matt Diehl

Theresa Andersson, Hummingbird, Go! (Basin Street Records). If this album sounds homemade, that’s because it was recorded in Theresa Andersson’s kitchen. The Swedish-born, New Orleans-based singer-songwriter plays every instrument on her fourth solo outing — with some help from a loop pedal — accenting her textured tunes with naturalistic sounds (think fizzing soda bottles and buzzing locusts) and her airy alto. Like Feist’s more granola sister, she delicately traverses sentimental territory, cooking up lovely moments (the breezy, violin-flecked “Hi-Low”) and slow-burning songs (“The Waltz”) that slip under the skin and linger. — Brian Orloff

Amanda Palmer, Who Killed Amanda Palmer (Roadrunner Records). It takes resplendent levels of sneering self-possession to label one’s own music “Brechtian.” But the gloriously savage Amanda Palmer and her extravagant Dresden Dolls have persistently lived up to it. On her solo debut, she and her hard-bitten piano take us on another trip through a mine field of emotions backed by the machine gun, Teutonic glam rock she has so rigorously perfected. Yet the ultimate femme incomprise also pauses here for moments of stirring, elegiac beauty and vulnerability. — Ken Scrudato

Solange, SoL-AngeL and The Hadley Street Dreams (Geffen). Solange Knowles’s sophomore album is an intrepid leap out from underneath her big sister’s shadow, a ballsy throwback record that reaches out into the future. The soul-baring opener “God Given Name” could be a lost Zero Seven track, “6 O’Clock Blues” is her winning ride on the Ronson train, and second single “Sandcastle Disco” is a beachy toe-tapper. All this, plus Boards of Canada produce “This Bird,” an intoxicated declaration of independence.— Ben Barna
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Gillis Talks Girl Talk

If you’re one of those iPod owners who likes to max out their memory, get ready to purge, because there’s a new album coming out that you’re gonna wanna cop (sorry Weezer, but you’re getting the boot). Pop music contortionist, Girl Talk (a.k.a. Greg Gillis), finished laying down the tracks for his fourth LP, Feed the Animals, last Tuesday (June 10). In the tradition of Radiohead, Gillis told Pitchfork Media the tracks will be available on the Internet “Wednesday or Thursday” of this week for an optional fee along with hard copies to follow. Gillis chose to release the album at an accelerated pace because of the current pop and hip-hop samples on it. There has been no word on what tracks are sampled on the album, but we’re hoping for a few songs in particular. “Lollipop” by Lil Wayne isn’t one of them.