Matisyahu at The Intersection, Grand Rapids

Once again I find myself gearing up for what I love: a good live show. I found myself a few days before thinking of coming out, but was still sure. By chance, the love of one of The Meanwhile’s tickets found its way to me and my mind was made up. I find myself, having heard of Matisyahu and still not knowing too much about him. Me wanting to really understand him before I go out to this show, I get busy. From the second I Google searched him and picked up a CD of his I knew I would be a fan. Not just a fan but rabid at that.

Born Matthew Paul Miller and raised as a Recontructionist Jew, Matisyahu (Hebrew for Matthew) has lived a life full of searching for one’s self. From his days following the band Phish and dropping hallucinogenics, to his adoption of the Orthodox Judaism faith, he has shown himself to be looking for something. Even when he left the Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidic community in Brooklyn, NY he stated that he wanted to learn about all different kinds of Jews. The guy is so David Carradine in his way of thinking, it’s amazing: you could almost see him traveling the dusty west with a staff and rolled blanket on his back, trading of course the Kung-Fu for a Yarmulke and Torah…

This is the type of person this world needs, a man of serious faith that can transcend it to bring a message of love and peace to all. Having collaborated with the Muslim beat-boxer Kenny Muhammad, he sees no line between us as humans. With his lyrics so abundant with positive messages, feeling of light and love, you cannot help but soak it up. Well, unless you are a cold heartless bastard. If that’s the case, you need a hug. I feel great about the places I have been taken through finding out all of this for his show.

Day of show: I am super geeked. Then, I find out not only is Dub Trio opening but they are his backing band as well. GTFO!!!! If you have never heard of them, then you really need to start emailing me every day for some bands to check, cause you are out of the loop. A driving force of metal and dub, this band stops and starts on the slimmest of measures. A three piece band with multiple instruments each; they add so much sound into a genre that it’s hard to actually classify them. Plus, they are on Ipecac Records, the brain child of one Mike Patton. If that’s drawing a blank, I might have to punch you in the liver.

Getting to the show with my buddy Matt, I could hear Dub Trio playing. Impatiently waiting in line to get in, I curse the fact that this is first time I have seen a line outside The Intersection. Yet, how cool would it be if it was packed? After getting in, it was. The crowd was tight going the whole way to the soundboard as Dub Trio pulled masterful dub all out of everywhere. Some in attendance were really digging on these guys while others were not too sure what was going on. You could tell that Dub Trio was a little too much for some folks. Which is fine, having seen them with Clutch and Russian Circles I knew what kind of crowd would go nuts for them. Though I have to say, some of the more straight dub songs had the cute hippie girls rocking that sweet reggae shake they do so well.

On their last song the band really brought the heavy machinery of double bass played over machine gun snares and whip neck breaks. I’ll admit that I almost lost all my notes as I let loose. Oh so good. With that it was done, a good amount of applause even after scaring a few 10 year old kids running throughout the crowd. Now after a small “smoke” break, I was feeling fantastic and ready to embrace what was next, when it hit me: everything I have heard from Matisyahu has been recorded studio work. From what I know it was done with minimal live instruments. So what was going to happen with this man and band bringing similar styles but a whole amazing aspect to the live version? Exciting.

Dub Trio reappears and starts playing the smoothest little bits of noise as a voice flows out from nowhere threatening to put you into a trance. I feel like a ghost has enveloped me and I cannot move. Then he hits the stage, crowd going bat shit crazy. Dressed in what looks like a simple maroon set of scrubs, he croons even higher, blowing my mind with his ability to sing and just capture the attention of us all. Then it breaks as the fattest reggae jam comes forth and the people move. It was great, for like 30 seconds people were dancing like no one was watching. Other than myself taking notes of this, no one was. Then reality hit and self consciousness came back to many. Still the crowd was swaying.

A few more songs down the road, I realize I was right to be excited for this combo of musicians, as a whole new level was brought to the music of Matisyahu. Even at some point, a harder edge. I am quite sure when I see him again it would be a completely different experience, still though, an amazing one. This show is just flowing with such ease between the songs and the crowd was never one to not let him know. The positivity and pure truth in his message seems to resonate in the faces as people walk by. It’s so contagious that as people walk in from smoking and they are bombarded with these beats, they cannot help but almost put a pimp strut in their walk for 10 feet until they realize they are doing it.

You know I just cannot say enough about how talented Matisyahu is. The man has the flow of the Colorado River in spring. Like the river, his flow eroded things in its path. In his case fear and ignorance, leaving a hole to be filled with some serious love and positive direction for yourself. I left with that feeling, a great feeling actually. Just knowing that he is out there doing this, spreading it across the world, gives me some hope. Something I am short on all too often. Hope that out there someone is getting it, his message. Maybe that message can become as contagious as hate and war seem to be. Maybe. Great show, good times and thanks again to The Meanwhile for making up my mind.