Matisyahu: Music Hall of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY 12/19/09

Driving home from college Friday night my mind was fixed on one thing: making it to Matisyahu’s Festival of Light concert that was taking place in Brooklyn, New York on Saturday night.  Bad weather was surging throughout the east coast and emergency snow reports were forcing people to run for cover.  After waiting several months and enduring a long final exams week, the weekend finally came to go see Matisyahu at the Music Hall of Williamsburg in New York City.  Once I departed 30th Street Station, the only thing standing in the path was Mother Nature.   

You may remember a concert review that I wrote back in July when I covered Matisyahu on a hot summer night at the Electric Factory.  Though, all you need to know now is that Matisyahu is an amazing Hasidic Jewish Reggae Rapper who fuses spiritualistic rhymes with dope rock beats.  Not many musicians can incorporate insane beat boxing skills for effect while keeping hope alive with intelligent lyricism, but the light remains bright in Matisyahu’s tunnel of life.

Kicking off the seventh night of the Festival of Light was rock hip-hop hybrid, Travis McCoy.  The Gym Class Heroes front man brought some of his solo material and cuts off his future demo, The Lazarus Project, to Brooklyn Saturday night.  McCoy recently became MTV’s ambassador for their HIV and AIDS charity, the Staying Alive Foundation.  In his work with the organization he had a chance to visit South Africa, India and the Philippines and through this experience came his single, “One At A Time.”

As the clock neared 9:15 p.m., colorful strobe lights reflected off of the giant disco ball dreidel hanging from up above and Matisyahu took the stage to a sold out capacity crowd.  With fans on their feet the band dove straight into “Time Of Your Song” followed by the hard driven “Youth,” both songs off his 2006 release, titled Youth. 

Clouds of smoke and chromatic light mystified the stage as Matis tore through song after song in the celebration.  It was so neat being less than ten feet from Matisyahu throughout the whole concert.  At one point the band’s bassist, Stu Brooks, came out on a platform that put him directly above me.  While sending thumping bass frequencies through my chest and up my spine, I thought the bass was going to take one of us out in the front row. 

In further support of his August release, Light, Matisyahu featured “I Will Be Light” and “On Nature” off the album.  “On Nature” is a true song that takes us back to the earth we came from and speaks of a place where the river of freedom flows strong.  With a children’s choir in the chorus, Matisyahu generates a compelling and peaceful jam.

Later in the night guitarist Dave Holmes laid down the staggering opening guitar riff for the song “Smash Lies.”  This explosive track electrified the crowd and prompted those to “Dream awake/strive to be alive most every day.”  Matisyahu continued to play songs off of all of his records throughout the show, breaking out “Jerusalem,” “Motivate” and his smash hit “King Without A Crown.”  Towards the end of his main set at the height of the vibe, Matis took flight from stage and landed right on top of me and my friends.  With fans raving after the main set, Matisyahu came out for his encore first by himself to throw down a sick beat box arrangement.  Later accompanied by his band,  the ten minute beat box spectacle left fans in awe. 

Matis conveniently left his most spiritual and unifying song, “One Day” for the finale.  The song speaks of ending war and fighting throughout all lands.  “One Day” has gained so much popularity that it has become the main theme for the 2010 Winter Olympics.  A song like this is so moving because it has the true power to ignite change in the world.  “One day we’ll all be free and proud to be under the same sun singing songs of freedom.”

Words can’t describe the full experience and how awesome Matisyahu’s Festival of Light was this past weekend.  Even after several buses and trains were delayed, we found a way to make it to Brooklyn to take part in the celebration.  This Thursday evening, yes Christmas Eve, Matisyahu will be playing at the TLA on South Street.  I would definitely recommend seeing Matisyahu live in concert, especially on this current tour. 


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