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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Matisyahu brings the beat to Tucson

    Former hippie from White Plains, N.Y. and a follower of Phish, Matisyahu, who now spreads the messages of Hasidic Judaism, took the stage on Thursday at the Rialto Theatre and impressed a crowd of all ages.

    The packed show boasted an interesting array of concertgoers, rabbis and elementary school-aged children in the mix, and the whole crowd met him with unbridled enthusiasm.

    Matisyahu entered wearing a yarmulke, long black coat, tzitzis and the long side-curls most associate with rabbis or Orthodox Jews, but don’t be fooled. This is not a costume but a little taste of the Jewish culture and religion Matisyahu immerses himself in. While Christian rock gets a bad name and is met with little acceptance in the mainstream music world, interestingly, Matisyahu’s brand of Jewish reggae has been met with open arms.

    There is no denying the catchiness of his minor key melodies and lyrically Matisyahu brings something worth listening to to the table; however, his beatboxing is what takes the cake. His borrowed images and metaphors that come straight from Jewish texts and their integration into his reggae styling add an interesting appeal to the artist.

    His show was chock full of his popular album songs, but each was given a twist. They were pulled out to extraordinary lengths with intermittent synthesizer solos. While the instrumental ditties were by no means unappealing, they began to drag on a bit much after the first half hour of so. That said, the crowd was nothing less than enthralled by singer and his band.

    An interesting note: Matisyahu is a student of the Chabad-Lubavitch philosophy and a Caucasian reggae artist (whose show was opened by a Somalian reggae artist) with a band made up of completely Caucasian members, playing to crowd that was mostly younger Caucasian Jewish males, many wearing yarmulkes and other Jewish paraphernalia. However, he seems to keenly avoid any questions about his race, religion or toying with the lines of accepted cultural norms. This is what makes Matisyahu such an enthralling figure. His intense beatboxing skills aren’t too shabby, either.

    Throughout the concert the crowd, young and old, families and college students, rabbis and more, swayed to the music and were thoroughly interested in the performance. The dancehall reggae-inspired music of Matisyahu certainly kept the crowd moving. Unlike many artists who transition their albums to a live environment, Matisyahu’s music was nearly identical to his album, a feat most artists cannot accomplish.

    The show was high energy and the crowd was enjoying the entire environment of the show. Matisyahu brought his A-game and left what will most likely be a lasting impression on children and adults alike. Who would have thought Jewish Reggae would find its niche in Tucson?

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