Girl Talk at Harvard Yard, November 20, 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.
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