A lean but dedicated crowd waited for Girl Talk, the Pittsburgh-born master of mashups. The sole member of the group, Greg Gillis, burst onto the stage wearing a blue hoodie and maroon sweatpants and flailed spastically in what looked like Muppet aerobics. Listeners charged toward the stage, and moments later a swarm of young fans poured out of the backstage area to surround Gillis. Gillis is always joined by a massive entourage of dancers selected from the audience, and this year's Virgin FreeFest was no exception.
Girl Talk's set was a sustained 70 minute dance party. Gillis kept dancers interested by working hit after hit into his mashups. Black Sabbath paired with Ludacris. Metallica went up against Lady Gaga. Girl Talk provides a rare opportunity to do the "Stanky Leg" to Guns N' Roses. The snippet that got the biggest reaction was, oddly enough, Kelly Clarkson. Go figure.
Franz Ferdinand brings something to the stage that isn't so apparent on its albums: Rock and roll. The true power of the Scottish band's distorted guitars and power drumming becomes apparent early in its set.
Headliners have it tough at festivals, seeing as their performances occur so many hours after the first bands perform. Eleven hours after the gates opened to Virgin FreeFest, the crowd that gathered to hear Franz Ferdinand still had a lot of dancing to do. Though the 2004 single "Take Me Out" didn't arrive until mid-set, the crowd response was one of mass synchronized jumping.
The band performed in front of a towering massive backdrop depicting members' heads several stories tall, which seemed pretty rock and roll, too.