Chilly Gonzalez is one man with many facets to his personality and performance. Behind a piano at Le Poisson Rouge and backed by the Fuck Luck Orchestra, Gonzalez is a powerful performer who can make you laugh and think with alarming ease.Chilly Gonzales - Radio 1 Minimix
Gonzalez’s “Piano Talk Show,” is a performance act that features Chilly talking about modern life, inspiration for his songs as well as playing the piano and rapping. This may seem like a bizarre concoction of a mad man, and you’d be right. But with Chilly, this strange brew of comedy and musical genius goes down smooth.
More from the night, including photos and a video after the jump.
At Le Poisson Rouge, no one was safe from Chilly. Dropped forks and chatter became fodder for comedically awkward (yet sincere) confrontation, volunteers were plucked from the audience, and even the orchestra could not escape the wrath of Chilly. But this was all in good sport, where awkwardness and improvisation is embraced.
Simply put, with Chilly, you leave it in his hands and see where things go. As great as his piano playing may be, it’s his insight on the world around him that offers up the greatest riches. The discussion about rapping, and Chilly’s appreciation for an impromptu rap, becomes an interesting dissection of how our society “gets the rap it deserves.” To Chilly, if you hate the rap of today, you probably hate much about today, too.
As quick as this observation occurs, Chilly is on to the next thing that engages him, like the evolution of dance music. From the 4/4 beat that is in almost every song today, rewind to the days of the waltz, to the 6/8 beat to the hidden 4/4 within that 6/8 beat. In Chilly’s hands, something technical becomes comedic and vibrant.
While Chilly could easily do a show alone, the Fuck Luck Orchestra was a nice addition. But the greater surprises came from the volunteers who were pulled from the audience. One audience member struggled to play “FrÃ¨re Jacques,” while Chilly had some fun at her expense. It’s never malicious. When Chilly is absurdly biting or emphatic it means his point is serious, but there’s a good-natured joke behind the wording or delivery.
So while Chilly may across as mean, his true spirit is worn on the sleeve of his bathrobe. Another audience member was pulled onstage, and it turns out the young lad was learning how to play piano using Chilly’s compositions. Chilly looked on as the kid played a stunningly beautiful rendition of “Overnight.” Chilly seamlessly joined him on the higher keys toward the end.
As stirring as that was, one thing that Chilly can do better than anyone else is hold a grudge. That may be fudging it a bit, but Chilly can definitely harbor some ill will. Rap star Drake was not on Chilly’s good side for including “The Tourist” on his mixtape without credit. Drake happened to live in the same building as Chilly’s father who then introduced the two. While Chilly heard no word back about a future collaboration with Drake, the inspiration for a song was born.
Don’t worry, as this story has a happy ending. Days before Chilly was to include the song on his album, Drake finally called back. Chilly was invited to work with Drake on “Marvin’s Room” and also performed with Drake at the Juno’s. The scathing song was dropped.
Drake was not the only one under fire. During “Take Me to Broadway,” the Fuck Luck Orchestra failed to come in on time and Chilly had some fun with the quartet. The awkwardness, as it often does, gave way to laughter.
Chilly closed his set with his special take on pop hits “Another One Bites the Dust” and The Police’s “King of Pain.” The one-man act came to a close, his genius apparent. With a piano and his wit, Chilly put on a one-man act worthy of Broadway.