Harvard nips fun in the bud

Girl Talk at Harvard Yard, November 20, 2008
By RICHARD BECK  |  November 25, 2008


Harvard is not a fun place. Girl Talk was going to change all that.

After years of bringing in acts whose relevance had ended with the 20th century — Third Eye Blind, Gavin DeGraw — Harvard's College Events Board had invited the smash-up party god to the Harvard-Yale Game Pep Rally. Never mind that Girl Talk's music is terrible — clumsy, tone-deaf laptop mash-ups that sound like idiot siblings to Diplo's far more sophisticated tracks. This was going to be a turning point. After all, Girl Talk shows are participatory affairs, the dancing crowd joining him and his laptop on stage as confetti flies. Men with moustaches and great pants! Women shrink-wrapped into shiny spandex bodysuits! This was going to be fun!

So it was a very pumped, very drunk crowd of hundreds that made their way through the freezing cold Thursday night to Harvard Yard. "I found out who he was six hours ago!" said a smiling undergraduate as she bounded by. When Greg Gillis, a/k/a Girl Talk, finally appeared on the tented platform, the reaction was immediate: crowd surfing in the first 20 seconds, students teetering on one another's shoulders, and mostly unsuccessful efforts to grind while wearing mittens and thick coats. The amps needed to be turned up a bit, but if you worked your way to the center of the crowd, the sound was surprisingly clear. Hey! This was working! This was fun!

It didn't last. The police needed less than 15 minutes to determine that the crush of people up near the stage was getting unsafe, and just like that Girl Talk was put on pause while an increasingly desperate member of the College Events Board pleaded with the crowd to "back the fuck up." He was polite at first, and then he was angry, and then he was screaming. The students held their ground.

The cops gave the thing one more chance, but after a few minutes of Girl Talk's "Smash Your Head," they shut it down for good. "I'm very very very sorry," said Gillis, who wasn't to blame, and then it was done.

Related: Slideshow: Record Hospital Fest 2009, Listen!, All at once, More more >
  Topics: Live Reviews , Harvard University, Harvard Yard, Third Eye Blind,  More more >
| More

Most Popular
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   PLUCK AND DETERMINATION  |  March 09, 2010
    People have always thought that Joanna Newsom was indulgent. At first, it was about her voice — the kind of nasal yelp that usually keeps a performer from getting on stage at all. Then, on her second album, it was about her vocabulary and her instrumentation.
  •   SONG OF HERSELF  |  August 05, 2009
    "Listen, I will go on record saying I love Feist, I love Neko Case. I love that music. But that shit's easy listening for the twentysomethings. It fucking is. It's not hard to listen to any of that stuff."
  •   DJ QUIK AND KURUPT | BLAQKOUT  |  June 15, 2009
    LA hip-hop has two threads, and DJ Quik pulls both of them. The first is g-funk, a production style that relies on deep, open grooves and an endless parade of funk samples.
  •   FLIPPER | LOVE  |  May 26, 2009
    Flipper formed in San Francisco in 1979, and they're remembered three decades later because of a song called "Sex Bomb" that's one of the funniest pieces of music I've ever heard.
    There were not one but two clarinets on stage at the Somerville Theatre on Tuesday night, and that gives you some idea of how intricate Annie Clark's chamber-pop compositions can be.

 See all articles by: RICHARD BECK