View Ooh la L.A. photos in Timothy Norris' slideshow.
Last night during the first night of the Ooh la L.A. Festival at the Fonda, French/Canadian/Parisian producer and pianist Gonzales pulled out a copy of this week's LA Weekly and, feigning disgust with his “critics,” proceeded to read what he said was a review from the paper. Sitting in front of his piano, he lambasted the “critic” for his negative portrayal of Gonzales as a has-been Peaches producer who fails at the piano-bar shtick. We shifted uncomfortably on the the dancefloor and laughed nervously. What, exactly had we said? Or was this part of his “act”?
His keyboardist, in fact, stood front stage with the cover of the Weekly, tore it into tiny bits and squeezed it into his fist. Then he opened his fist and unfolded the magically intact cover.
Let the record show, however, that all the nasty things Gonzales accused us of writing were flat out fabrications, and that in fact the little bit of space we did devote to the French Canadian reads as follows: “Wednesday's opening night features Sebastien Tellier, the song stylist who moves from soft piano ballads to funky electro tracks with grace and ease; doing a similar tightrope walk is Gonzales, whose work first as a dance producer (Peaches, Feist, Jamie Lidell) has given way to more formal, structured songs …”
Gonzales' act was really funny, though if you're not in the right mood he's probably kind of annoying. He's a really good pianist; a video projection captured his hands striking the keys, and he's got some nimble fingers. His one liners and banter was pretty classic. At one point he said, “Do you guys like me? Yes? Look, I know we're going to get there eventually, but can we speed up the process a little?”
He also declared petulantly, “I'm from FRANCE, and I'm very fucking famous in France,” before diving into a song. He seemed annoyed at the chatter in the back of the room. (His Twitter feed adds to the sense that he was disappointed with last night. It reads, simply, “L.A.: Ouch!”)
The accents were thick at the Fonda, and the rooftop bar was fuming with smoke from the suave and fashionable sucking on their cigarettes, so debonair. This was the first night of three. Tonight features Hollywood, Mon Amour, SoKo (who's filling in for Emilie Simone, who had to cancel) backed by the wonderful LA guitar-pop band His Orchestra, the the Do.
But we want to talk about Sebastien Tellier, who followed Gonzales and opener Cocoon. Tellier is a cool man, and we mean that in the Chet Baker way. As in, confidently detached, so self-assured of his mission in life that he glides through it with confidence and grace. He plays rock the way that Marc Bolan played rock. Straight to the core of it: strong guitar songs with electronic flourishes and lots of synthetic handclaps.
He drank Champagne all night. He also sprayed the crowd with it.