Reviews > Shows
Matisyahu at Waller Creek Amphitheater at Stubb’s
Waller Creek Amphitheater at Stubb’s
August 18, 2010
Photos by Jaime Butler
Hasidic hip-hop. Rabbi reggae. Jewish Jamaican jams. I’m sure Matisyahu has heard all the puns, all the jokes, all the contradictory remarks of disbelief about his hypnotic blend of music. But a contradiction such as Matisyahu is certainly welcome in Austin, as evidenced by the excited sold-out show at Stubb’s on August 18.
Many are familiar with his first live album, Live at Stubb’s, recorded in 2005. This album has gone gold and helped Matisyahu to achieve the sweeping popularity he enjoys today. And as one good turn generally deserves another, Matisyahu had announced beforehand that this show would also be recorded, aptly titled Live at Stubb’s, Vol. 2. If the first show hadn’t sold out, this was sure to, as his many fans were eager to be part of another great performance full of positive spiritual energy, and this time the visual medium would be added as part of a CD/DVD recording.
Looking snazzy (and a little sweaty), a teeming mass of people filled Stubb’s on a muggy August evening. But before Matisyahu took the stage, the crowd was treated to Nathan Maxwell & the Original Bunny Gang. Nathan, the bassist for Flogging Molly, takes a different approach with his solo act, slowing it down for a little dub/reggae. The band had a good sound, but Nathan won brownie points from the crowd after he told them it was his birthday and that his dad was playing with him on drums. After a round of “Happy Birthday,” Nathan and the Gang continued a short opening set before giving way to the headliner.
The crowd erupted as Matisyahu took the stage, the band filling in behind his opening chants. When the tempo increased, so did the crowd’s enthusiasm, lifted by the spiritually uplifting music. It’s not just that he’s singing Jewish songs, which he does on “Jerusalem,” but there is a unifying religious message that love conquers all, and that we can all live together in peace and harmony.
And it’s all wrapped together in such a tight, catchy sound. Along with the impressive lyricism of Matisyahu, one must also mention his backing band, Dub Trio. To complement his energetic vocals, Dub Trio had a tight sound that flowed from song to song, verse to verse, and given freedom to jam on their own. All aspects of the musical experience were hitting on every cylinder for the cameras and the crowd.
There was a spattering of old and new, from his first album Shake Off the Dust…Arise, to last year’s Light. Singles like “King Without a Crown” and “One Day” were fan favorites, but there were many highlights, like the raucous “Youth” or the uplifting “Indestructible.” Halfway through the show, Matisyahu was helped on stage by Kenny Muhammad for “Beat Box.” This was the epitome of Matisyahu’s message: a Jew and Muslim musician jamming on stage. And damn could these men make some crazy sounds.
To close the encore, Matisyahu took several turns crowd surfing before inviting the audience to join him on stage for a final jam. It was organized chaos at it best, as people sang, danced, and hugged each other, the performers…anyone.
Keep an eye (and ear) peeled for Live at Stubb’s, Vol. 2 early next year. For fans of Matisyahu, it’s a show you won’t want to miss.
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