Monday, February 12, 2007

Stop Brooklyn Hate

If you happened to catch Girl Talk fever at Boston's Middle East show, you might have been tempted to hop on a Fung Wah bus and head straight to Brooklyn for Gregg Gillis' next gig at Studio B. And if you happened to compare the two shows, you might realize that Brooklyn can quickly turn into a savage concrete jungle where joyful dancing quickly becomes aggressive pushing, shoving and crowd surfing.

Studio B is a hot little venue tucked away in Greenpoint. Although signs indicated that Studio B has a maximum capacity of about 460 people, you got the feeling that at least 300 extra bodies had crammed themselves into the mix for Gillis' set. Opening acts Hearts of Darknesses and Parts and Labor both offered very enjoyable sets and definitely got points for not boring anyone.

But Gillis was, without exception, the main attraction. Right before he stepped on stage, I found myself standing on the stage steps with my best friend. We watched Gillis sound check through headphones before he got on the mic and announced he had to use the bathroom. After he ran through the crowd to relieve himself, he appeared back on stage wearing a sweat suit and white sweatband around his head like a fucked-up, endearing version of Jane Fonda. He warmed up the audience with "Once Again" and the words "Ass Jigg-jigg-jiggilin" reverberated through the crowd while he danced, jumped and threw confetti in the air on stage solo.

It didn't take long for the crowd to jump on stage with him, and my best friend and I soon found ourselves right in the dead center of the action, with Gillis sandwiched between us pounding on his laptop. From the stage, the arms flung up out of the crowd seemed like a massive pulsing monster created out of body parts. Girls crowd surfed, boys smashed their heads in the air, and security just tried to hold on for dear life while Gillis busted out his "Knife" remix with Grizzly Bear and Clipse blending into a sort of sonic heaven. "Bounce That", "Smash Your Head" and Depeche Mode mixed with Tag Team set the backdrop for even more turbulence than the Boston show.

As more and more bodies packed onto the stage, it became a barbarian battle to dance; chicks began elbowing me to jockey for a better position next to the laptop while seven or eight photographers snapped photos of the chaos. At one point, I turned to the girl next to me who kept elbowing me in the ribs and demanded to know if she really wanted to fight me during Girl Talk. She declined and then left.

Eventually, the chaos on the stage almost pushed Gillis' laptop and table into the crowd, causing security to clear the area. As a big man escorted me to the stage steps, I saw that the crowd on the floor was no better; bodies were packed up against bodies, people were sweating like they were at an Aerobics class, and there was basically no room to even breathe. Every surface in Studio B was covered in steam; the Ladies' bathroom was so full of steam that you couldn't see anything in the mirrors. Girls slumped against the walls and panted, or dunked their faces in the sink to cool down. Gillis tried to mellow things out by asking the crowd to "Move as one" and cool things off.

But the atmosphere was relentless; Studio B might as well have been a steam room. It seemed as if the audience would have gladly ripped Gillis apart out of joy, if only to take home a souvenir finger or piece of clothing to prove they had been there. And that might have been the only real problem with this show; compared to the jovial dancing of Boston, Brooklyn was like a savage posturing contest; there wasn't enough room for everyone to fit into the frame of every picture, and basically chaos ensued.

This doesn't say anything about Gillis, however. How he managed to keep playing while a demented crowd of dancers pushed and pulled at him is beyond me. I have to wonder how much longer audience-stage-dancing will live, because based on the insanity of Brooklyn, it might endanger the man's life.

But by the end of the night, we were happily danced-out as we tumbled out onto the sidewalk and saw the crowd in front of Studio B with steam rising up off of their skin. With exhaustion, we sat down on the curb to rest. And although the chaos was tiring, Brooklyn hipsters aside, it proved once again that Girl Talk is completely relentless and mostly pretty famous.

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