On Monday, November 19th, Matisyahu played the House of Blues Dallas.
Back in 2005, I saw Matisyahu play a show with The Flaming Lips. While it was an extremely odd pairing, it was still a great show. Back then, I had picked up a copy of Live at Stubbs and was really intrigued by the song “King Without a Crown,” so I decided I must see him live. This was a devoted Hasidic Jew in a dark suit and large hat that performed a mostly reggae show with some amazing beatboxing. The most recent show was a completely different experience and feel, but one thing was the same, he has an amazing voice that I absolutely LOVE.
With the beautiful Spark Seeker cover photo of a Bedouin girl forming the back drop, the newly clean shaven Matisyahu walked on to the stage wearing sunglasses, jeans, and a pair of Converse high tops. The stage setup consisted of the three band members and their gear along with a good amount of strobe and colored lights. The band started first and played for a couple of minutes, and I was not sure what to think for a second. I had not been following Matis that closely for the past two years, so while I was aware that he had changed his physical appearance, I had not listened to some of his latest stuff. Once he finally walked on stage and started to sing, it was all irrelevant. The sound of the band is a very different approach from his original sound, but the lyrics and the vocals are still as unique and talented as always. Facial hair or not, his spirituality is still there and so is the beatbox.
The band members did play some amazing music. Joe Tomino killed it on the drums and D.P. Holmes did some great guitar solos. Stu Brooks played bass and also did a lot of the keyboard work, so the feel of the show was a lot more towards the rock/electronic side of music, which is definitely a new direction of the music of Spark Seeker vs. Youth. Unfortunately, I did not feel the sound levels were quite right for a majority of the show. Watching the second half from the balcony, there were lots of pieces of the set that the vocals were drowned out by the overwhelming volume of the band. This was a little disappointing for me.
The entire set was well over an hour and included many new songs as well as his older ones. He was fairly subdued for the first part of the show, but eventually he got moving and there was more interaction with the crowd and encouraged sing alongs. The set finished with a great version of “King Without a Crown” and his usual crowd diving. At the very end of the song, the band went into a cacophony of noise and lights that was almost sensory overload with the sound off kilter. There were several audience members covering their ears. The stage went dark, and they all left the stage with the audience chanting for an encore. After a few minutes, everyone returned for one last song, and I really enjoyed seeing how much Matis was enjoying it. He sang and then began to encourage people to come up on stage so that by the end there were so many people on stage they could barely fit. He was helping pull people up and happily posing for pictures.
Overall, I highly recommend you check out Matisyahu live whenever you get the chance. He is a unique talent that no matter where his ongoing journey of spiritual and musical experimentation takes him, his talent will always be what shows through. After a few more dates on this tour, he will be doing several acoustic shows, including one in San Marcos, Texas, that I plan on attending. For more information, check out his website www.matisyahuworld.com. Also as a dedicated New Yorker, he is donating a portion of show proceeds as well as money from a new song he recorded to help victims of Hurricane Sandy.
Review and Photos by Reanna Streater