With Max Tundra
Fillmore Miami Beach
Thursday, May 19, 2011
Better Than: An impromptu cock-rocking rave in a confetti supply store.
Just parking your car before a Girl Talk show is a fucking party.
On the second floor of the Miami Beach Municipal Parking Garage at the corner of 17th Street and Convention Center Drive, there's a group of about 20 college-age kids huddled around the ass-end of a busted-up old Corolla, making Red Bull drinks out of the trunk and transferring warm beers to soda cans.
They're hiding in the shadows, giggling, and guzzling their drinks in giddy defiance of a posted notice that reads "POLICE ORDER: Consumption of alcoholic beverages prohibited, Ord. 25-33."
Meanwhile, streaking out of this massive concrete complex's every corner, there are hundreds of other Girl Talk devotees who've got no interest at all in tailgating, pre-drinking, or similarly illegal hijinks. These serious and focused fans can't wait to get inside the Fillmore Miami Beach. So they're heading for the stairs, punching the elevator button, and hustling for the exits.
Soon, the sidewalks are clogged with a mini-mob striding down 17th Street, weaving hyperactively from one edge of the walkway to the other. Some members of the throng stop at the corner to wait for the WALK signal. But others don't want to waste a fucking second and jog across four lanes of speeding traffic.
A minute later, bursting through the Fillmore's doors, these already sweaty maniacs get hit by a blast of frozen Arctic air and zip toward the lobby bar for a quick jag of legit drinking. A 24-ounce can of Budweiser for $12. A toxic vodka concoction. Or maybe Coke Zero and a splash of booze.
Sufficiently drunk, the early arrivers stumble down the high-ceilinged hallways where pookieheads are twitchily shopping for "beans," up ramped walkways, and into the theater for a sudden confrontation with Girl Talk's opening act, a short, balding English nerd named Max Tundra. He's wearing a short-sleeved red, white, and baby blue dress shirt with knee-length khaki pants. He's gotta be about 37 years old. And he looks like his mother dressed him.
Dwarfed behind a folding table loaded with a mix of pro gear, cheap noisemaking toys, and a xylophone, Tundra winds through hyperadvanced Casio-like compositions while singing in a high, effortfully controlled voice. One moment, he's grooving out '80s disco-soul. And the next, he's sprinting through a breathless white-boy riff on R. Kelly-style slow jam.
He undoes his shirt, flashing a saggy chest covered in black hair. He jumps and dances rhythmlessly. He sits at the edge of the stage, kicking his legs like a kid dipping his toes in a pool. There are covers of The Sound of Music's "So Long, Farewell" and Beyoncé's "Single Ladies." It's one part performance art, another part karaoke, two parts wacko genius, and a final chunk of chemistry-teacher-going-buckwild-at-the-high-school-talent-show.
Saying goodnight, he waves and shouts at the crowd: "I am Max Tundra. I will meet you in the foyer where I will attempt to sell you t-shirt with a cat on it."
The lights flash up and it's way too bright, especially for the kids who've successfully scored and swallowed a handful of "beans." They split, scatter, and hide out in darker corners. But the mini-mob starts to explode as the late arrivers filter into the theater from every direction.
There's a 30-minute break. And then it's 10:11 p.m. and the room goes dark. The serious and focused Girl Talk fans spin into fits of frenzy, screeching, gnashing, and wailing 'cause they know the show's about to start in mere seconds. Chicks throw their drinks to the floor. Dudes can't keep their fists from pumping. And there's still no music.
That's when Girl Talk streaks out onstage like a skinny, overage varsity basketball star in pre-game gear. He's rocking a baggy pair of dark gray sweatpants and a giant maroon hoodie with a makeshift cotton headband wrapped low around his skull, keeping long, wet strands of sandy hair pinned back. And flanking him, there are a couple of hypemen (who look more like stoners than athletes) in royal blue Girl Talk-branded b-ball uniforms, pogo-ing across the stage like spazzy kangaroos and manning toilet-paper guns made from Black & Decker leafblowers and paint rollers holding shit tissue.
A whole team of handpicked Girl Talk teen dancers come crashing out from backstage, wilding out and windmilling as the frontman hops on top of his DJ table, slapping and shaking hands with the fans who've managed to worm their way to the front and center part of the pit. And suddenly, he stands straight up, raises his hands like a champ, and corkscrews off the tabletop to the floor, leaning down to his laptop and kicking this party into action with a blast of Sabbath and little bit of Ludacris.
It's the exact same track that leads off Girl Talk's newest slab, All Day, pitting "War Pigs" vs. "Move Bitch." But live, every bass blast is synchronized with blinding bursts of seizure-inducing white light, shooting out from behind a massive LCD panel that's broken up into a complex array of prismatic patterns.
From start to finish, this giant, high-tech, close-circuit TV screen broadcasts a steady stream of 16-bit, Sega Genesis-style graphics. Sometimes it's purely geometric animation packed with nostalgic '90s flourishes and floating, flashing, rotating Girl Talk titles. Other times it's dancing carrots and little bouncing bronze horses, giant bananas, neon "Cocktails" signs, twirling tacos, and circle-A anarchy symbols coupled with hot red flying-V guitars.
As for Girl Talk's insane mashup mania, the set is so non-stop and sample-dense that you'd need to be an obsessive-compulsive musicologist with a computer in your head and a couple of hundred work hours in front of you to totally dissect and catalog it. It's kinda like channel-surfing MTV across the decades, skipping from Lil Wayne's "6 Foot 7 Foot" back to the Ramones and through Rihanna's "Rude Boy" and the Verve's "Bittersweet Symphony" to Ol' Dirty Bastard rants, snippets of Belinda Carlisle, Nicki Minaj freakouts, Smashing Pumpkins guitar squall, and an infinity of other recognizable snippets like Bon Jovi's "Living on a Prayer" and Rick Ross's "Hustlin'."
By now, the crowd is sweaty and tangled in superlong strips of toilet paper. Beach balls are being batted back and forth across the theater just as Girl Talk tosses on Simon & Garfunkel's "Cecilia," inciting a total crowd clap-a-thon with a little help from the LCD screen silently screaming, "Put Your Hands Together!"
A couple minutes later, Wacko Jacko's "Thriller" triggers a confetti explosion that slowly flutters down over the entire theater, littering the beer- and soda-soaked floor with flecks of multicolor paper. And then a dozen variously sized pink, blue, green, yellow, and orange balloons come tumbling out to the tune of Kelly Clarkson's "Since U Been Gone" before enormous bags filled with smaller helium-filled balloons are released into the mob, ripped open, and let loose. Some float safely up to the ceiling. But others get attacked, mangled, and popped by crazed ravers.
Now shirtless, Girl Talk rips into mashups of Peter, Bjorn & John's "Young Folks" vs. Waka Flocka Flame's "Hard in the Paint," AC/DC's "Thunder" vs. wild rap chants, and Red Hot Chili Peppers' "Under the Bridge" vs. horny hip-hop howls. But suddenly, the mix slows to a drawling stop and Mr. Talk shouts: "Fillmore! Thursday night! How are we feeling? Can we keep this going right now?"
The mob loses its mind. The toilet-paper guns come out for a second assault. And Girl Talk tears back into the party with a hack of Khaled's "All We Do Is Win" before shifting straight to a pitched sonic battle between Busta Rhymes's verse off "Look at Me Now" and Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody." The half-naked frontman snatches up the mike again: "Thank you, Miami, for coming out tonight!" and closes with All Day's ender, a tweak of John Lennon's "Imagine," punctuated by one last avalanche of balloons pouring down from the ceiling.
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He jumps on top of the table, strikes that raised-fist champ pose, and jogs offstage into the shadows. But 90 seconds later, it's encore time. And it's a 15-minute blitz of Nate Dogg's "Can't Deny It," the Pixies' "Where Is My Mind?," Missy Elliot, the Jackson Five, and "Lust for Life" vs. the Beastie Boys.
Then sweat-soaked and probably several pounds skinnier, Girl Talk says farewell a second time: "Miami make some noise! Thank you! Goodnight!" And he abandons this audience of aging ravers, 12-year-old girls in white pleather pants, jamtronica slobs with back hair to a room full of wet confetti, dead balloons, crumpled plastic bags, toilet-paper tumbleweed, and scattered smashed trash as the theme from Jurassic Park plays softly over the PA.