The Unspeakable Chilly Gonzales in “The Piano Talk Show”

Under a full moon at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery.

[Keep reading for full review by Franceasca Seiden]

Let me begin by admitting, I had no idea who Chilly Gonzales was. As a self-proclaimed music snob and avid fan of the arts I imagine this is close to blasphemy, especially since he collaborates with some of my favorite artists who are also his close friends (I’ll get to that later.) What I witnessed on Friday April 6, 2012, under the voluptuous moon at the legendary Hollywood Masonic Lodge was not what I expected in the least. In all honesty when I accepted my assignment to see the Guinness Book of World Record-setting pianist and multi-talented artist Chilly Gonzales, I was thinking I was about to walk into an underground rave with an exuberant amount of Silverlake hipsters standing around. As you can see, I am reiterating that I did not do any research prior to attending the show.  To my pleasant surprise the small intimate setting consisting of a dim lit stage, three violinists, a cellist, and 150 fans gathered around this charming pianist instantly soothed my assumption.  Arriving a tad bit late and getting what seemed like the only two available seats towards the back of the house, we were greeted with an array of catchy comedic – socio -political hip hop rhymes and a classical jam session.  It was truly one of the most innovative, fun, memorable shows I’ve ever seen.

For those of you unfamiliar with Chilly Gonzales, aka Gonzo, aka Chilly G., let me school you with my new found knowledge; he is a classically trained pianist who sought the instrument out at age three. He runs with electro artistic multi-talents like Peaches, Tiga and Feist and is in the Guinness Book of World Records for playing piano for twenty-seven hours straight. His talent spans musician, producer, filmmaker and screenwriter. The Canadian born, Jason Charles Beck, Chilly will impress you with his stylistic rhymes, humor and talent but within two hours I left with a bit of a crush.  Ladies, we all know that when you see an artist play for their audience like Gonzales does the tingle tends to resonate for a few days, like an after-glow of a really passionate love making session.

Throughout his Piano Talk Show, Chilly bangs the shit out of the keys, sweating profusely, wearing a black silk robe and slippers as he loops the audience in for participation and improvisation with his miniature string section.  The man is a bit of a caricature of himself, some might say the man has a Bugs Bunny quality to him (think the episode when Bugs was the conductor) while he manages to make a two hour show feel like twenty minutes of fun.  Gonzales pokes a little fun at himself and his talent at one point of the night as he segways into a short discussion of art and music education. He makes it an interactive show by pulling up Leo, a twenty-something year old kid from the audience, to carry a steady key, while Chilly takes the bongos. The kid, having dabbled in guitar, kept up while Gonzales shared stories of how his musical talent was the main reason he had his first kiss. As the kid surpassed Chilly’s expectations, of basically not fucking up the notes, he exclaimed, “Leo’s going for a blowjob now!” The crowd roared to what was an off the cuff brilliant statement.

Okay so I have been gushing about his impressive performance, myriad of accomplishments and diverse talents, and I’m sure you’re wondering so what about the music?  The man covered an array of original music including Beans from the first ever orchestral rap album The Unspeakable Chilly Gonzales, Grudge from Ivory Tower, and also found time to cover some classics like In the Air by Phil Collins, and Hotel California begrudgingly by The Eagles, and given our spooky location, he managed to squeeze in an ode to ODB with full audience participation. His three piece orchestra, which it seemed that he met  that night, even improvised to make the ultimate pop song one part Billy Jean by Michael Jackson, one part  theme from Knight Rider and two other pop gems that apparently I can’t remember, but you get the gist, right?  The singer, songwriter, producer, musician, screenwriter, filmmaker, prodigy has earned respect and devotion around the world with undoubtedly good reason. His work is genius and his passion unsurmounted.  If you have yet to discover Chilly Gonzales please check out his website and become a fan, you will be happy that you did.

WATCH CHILLY GONZALES IN ACTION (He starts playing piano at 4:00):

Upcoming tour dates:

04/16 MONTREAL, QC, Rialto Theater
04/17 TORONTO, ON, Glenn Gould Studio
04/18 CAMBRIDGE, MA, Regatta Bar at Charles Hotel
04/20 BROOKLYN, NY, The Bell House
04/21 NEW YORK, NY, Le Poisson Rouge