Review – Chiiild at the Hollywood Theatre, Apr 7, 2023, Vancouver
It’s a rare delight to press play on an artist you’ve never listened to before and like pretty much every song. This was my experience when first listening to Chiiild. Several songs quickly became familiar favourites that I wanted to play on repeat.
I couldn’t miss the live performance at the Hollywood Theatre on Friday night. I settled into a space at the back of the loosely-filled dancefloor during Avenoir’s opening set. The Edmonton-based artist was visiting Vancouver for the first time and provided a nice warm-up for the crowd.
As the 9:30 pm set time approached, the lights dimmed and three band members took their places on stage, navigating their way in the dark with headlamps to provide support on drums, guitar and violin. As they began playing a melodic intro, Yonatan Ayal AKA Chiiild took the final place centre-stage, for the first song of the night—”Antidote”.
Following the song, a track from his latest album, Better Luck in the Next Life, Ayal promised the night would be a mix of old and new. A promise he kept, playing songs like 2019’s “Count Me Out” from his debut EP Synthetic Soul, 2021’s “Gone” from Hope for Sale, and a personal highlight, the premiere single from Better Luck in the Next Life, “Bon Voyage.” As the first chorus of the addictive track was reached, the back of the stage was lit up bright orange, “Cause tonight it’s you and I / Under tangerine skies.”
Chiiild has crafted a captivating blend of pop, R&B, soul and jazz. His soulful tracks are made into even more impressive compositions with the layering of the violin, played by Lauren Malyon. As they all came together for a musical interlude the intuition was justified, this was a performance not to be missed.
Reaching the end of their set, Ayal noted that this was the time of the night when they say they have one more song. Pumping up the crowd, he said, “Ya’ll are at an eight, I’m gonna need you at a 12.” Soon we were all chanting, “One more song! One more song!” We were, of course, rewarded with two.
Ayal had been vibing with the crowd at the front of the stage throughout the night. He took the hand of one of those exuberant audience members and twirled her around for a “Pirouette”, the final song of the night. The smooth lyrics aptly ask the dancing crowd, “How can we be strangers after tonight?”