Girl Talk turns A&O Ball into dance party

Sherry Jiao

On the night of April 15, about 2,300 Northwestern students gathered at the Riviera Theatre for the A&O Ball featuring indie rock band The Walkmen and mash-up artist Girl Talk.

Tickets for the show went on sale Friday, April 8, and undergraduate tickets sold out completely during the weekend.

“Tickets sold really fast for a venue that size. Eighty percent of tickets sold were within the first hour,” said Communication senior Barry McCardel, chairman of A&O Productions. “Overall, we are really satisfied with sales.”

To open the show, The Walkmen played songs including “The Rat,” “Angela Surf City,” and “In The New Year.” As they performed, the crowd thickened in anticipation for Girl Talk.

But the group also drew fans who stayed only for The Walkmen.

“It was a great show. I had seen them a year and a half ago but this show was a million times better than that,” Communication freshman JJ Bersch said. “My favorite part was the guitarist; he kept laughing at the people dancing like Girl Talk was playing.”

A chant started and rose to a roar as the main concert began. Flashing lights, spewing streamers and a screaming crowd kicked off the performance.

Girl Talk opened with the beginning part of the song “Oh No” from his album “All Day” and later showcased songs from “Feed the Animals” and “Night Ripper.”

Throughout the night, he played samples from songs such as “Rude Boy” by Rihanna, Miley Cyrus’s “Party in the USA” and “Shout” by the Isley Brothers, ending with John Lennon’s “Imagine.”

“It was exactly what I expected,” SESP sophomore Kathryn Bailey said. “I’ve heard really good things from friends before that it was an amazing dance party, and it was exactly that: super fun and super high energy.”

As more students filed into the venue, some in the front row had to be lifted out of the audience by security guards because it got so crowded.

Security guards were not able to impose rules on fencing off the stage area, as was the case for the previous Kid Cudi and Snoop Dogg A&O Fall Blowout, which took place on campus in Welsh-Ryan Arena because it would have been dangerous at this concert venue, McCardel said.

“We couldn’t do that in Girl Talk because it’s a fire code,” he said. “When you’re talking about two different venues and two different shows, it’s hard to do the same thing. If students were expecting a higher level of crowd control, they would not be seeing it at the Riviera Theatre. However, it has a separate area on the top where many students enjoyed the concert from.”

McCardel said in some instances, when students were aggressive, security immediately removed them.

“We plan for months how to make everything safe. If people were pushing in the crowd, that’s really something we can’t do a lot about,” McCardel said.

Still, many students gave the concert a positive review.

“I definitely have bruises and scratches, but it was definitely worth it to be in the front row,” Weinberg freshman Julie Mahoney said. “I was very glad to be in the front despite injuries.”

Before the show started, some students were picked from the crowd and taken to a room where they were told they could dance on stage with Gregg Gillis, the musician known as Girl Talk. By the end of the show, there were about 30 students on stage.

Jordan Burns , a Weinberg freshman, was one of the students chosen. “We got on stage and there was so much energy,” he said. “(Gillis) was going crazy. I didn’t think it would be as cool as it was, just him playing a mix. But I could see him on his computer mixing it right on stage, instead of simply hitting the play button.”

Mahoney also said she really enjoyed the show.

“At first it was miserable to work our way to the front,” Mahoney says. “It was crazy, but it was definitely worth it.”

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