Matisyahu performs at Rams Head Live on Monday, July 10, 2012 in Baltimore, MD.
Matisyahu’s brought his 2012 summer tour to Rams Head Live on Monday, July 9, 2012. The tour is in support of his upcoming album Spark Seeker which will be released on July 17, 2012. The 33 year old reggae-rapper and now alternative artist, who was still beardless and without yarmulka, first took the stage for the night when he accompanied Dirty Head’s on the song ‘Dance All Night’ off of the groups most recent album Cabin By The Sea which he is featured on.
It is very rare to see the headliner take the stage with one of the openers before they take the stage for their own set. However, with a grin on his face like he was having the time of his life, Matisyahu graciously did so and the crowd responded by dancing and swaying back and fourth to the deep bass and reggae rhythms of ‘Dance All Night’.
Taking a step back, attending a Matisyahu concert is a bit different then attending a concert of any other mainstream artist. Outside the venue, you will find religious and other groups passing out information. The crowd for a Matisyahu concert is diverse in age and ethnicity. It is not uncommon to find a man in a yarmulka standing next to a man with dreadlocks standing next to a teenage girl who came to the show with her mom because mom is a fan too. This night at Rams Head Live was no different.
The capacity crowd had been primed by openers Moon Taxi and Dirty Heads. As the stage continued to fill up with fog highlighted by the blue stage lights over head, the band took the stage around 9:40 p.m. With Matisyahu off stage, a track started to play that had a deep trance like sound to it in which the band would slowly build into a very nice bass heavy reggae groove. Throughout the night this would continue, Matisyahu starting a song off going in one direction and then as one concert goer described it “smack you in the face” and take you in a different direction. The song “Jerusalem” is a good example of that. In the beginning, he had the crowd mellowing out, and then dancing to the reggae breakdown, and then throwing their hands in the air and singing the chorus as the tempo picked up. That’s a prime example of an artist who knows how to put on a show, control the crowd, and take the audience on a ride.
The nights ride really kicked off when Matisyahu launched into “What I’m Fighting For”. With the red stage lights filling the venue, you could feel the energy building throughout the room as Matisyahu spit the lyrics ” What I’m fighting for, Is worth far more than silver and gold, What I’m fighting for, Is a chance to unite the past, When a brothers coming home at last”.
This would then lead into the songs “So Hi, So Lo”, a teaser of “Sunshine” and then a beat box breakdown, and another brief teaser which sounded like “Darkness Into Light” until Matisyahu yelled “rEEEwind!”
As he and his band continued to mix up the tempo and keep the crowd anticipating what was next, there did not seem to be a song that the audience was not happy to hear. From the more reggae heavy songs like “Youth”, “Unique is My Dove”, and “Got No Water”, to the new songs on his album like “Sunshine” that have a more alternative sound to them, the crowd kept dancing, screaming, and eventually crowd surfing.
“Time of Your Song” is what set off the crowd surfing. From the first lyrics, “The world is moving to the song I hear, Who’s that singing, wind is rushing in my ear” the crowd was singing along and into the music. Once again, Matisyahu and his band showed how they take their audience for a ride. With varying tempos and mellow to heavy guitar, by the time they came to the end of the song, the energy was high and the crowd was buzzing, and Matisyahu was dancing around the stage and jumping up onto the drum riser.
As Matisyahu’s set came to a close, a guest Trumpeter took the stage to play accompaniment on the song “Kodesh”. However, this was not the last song of the night. Matisyahu would come back out for an encore starting off with “King Without A Crown” and taking the energy in Rams Head Live to another level for a final time. As the band continued to play, Matisyahu dove into the crowd and begin to crowd surf. As the crowd held him up, he stood to his feet raising his hands high in the air before falling backwards and crowd surfing his way back to the front of the stage.
The final song of the night would be “One Day”. Going along with the theme of the song, Matisyahu invited some concert goers on to stage to enjoy the final moments of the show with him.
Throughout the night, one thing that was apparent to me, Matisyahu seemed to be on cloud nine. He had a certain peacefulness and happiness about him. He looked like he was having the time of his life. It could have been because of his recent spiritual journey, I do not know. However, I do know that if an artist is putting on a good show, and having a great time on stage, most likely the audience will have a good time too and his performance at Rams Head Live was an example of that.
By Anthony Washington