Matisyahu 2006-6-18 Bonnaroo Music Festival Manchester, TN (download)
I always try to keep an open mind on most things, particularly when it comes to music. However, in an age where marketing is so pervasive and subversive and where the cool video you saw on Youtube or the street graffiti promoting a website winds up being a viral marketing scheme, it's really tough not to be skeptical that you're not being sold something at any given time.
Such was my intro to Matisyahu, the Hasidic reggae beatboxer. I caught a Letterman clip almost two years ago selling him as such, and then a news article soon after that. As I checked out his music, I figured the labels surely must be pulling a fast one on me. "There's just too many silly points to market this guy on," I said to myself. "He's a Hasidic Jew who plays reggae, and beatboxes, and stuff," I thought. I figured for sure Matisyahu was another act to make rounds through, and then be supported by, the musical underground, only to find out that yet again we'd been tricked into promoting another act being guerrilla marketed by a major label.
Good Morning America addressed exactly that when they did a segment on him, in the fumbling way that most reporters approach culturalphenomena they're not familiar with:
I was pleasantly surprised to find that, as far as I can tell, Matisyahu is the real deal. The real selling point involved my trip to the Bonnaroo Music Festival in 2006. In the middle of a hot day, Matisyahu commanded a large crowd while playing Which Stage at the festival. He and his band represented well what has made them so popular to this point.
Trey puts it pretty well, too...
"When he's singing, he's singing for God," says Trey Anastasio, the former Phish frontman, who invited Matisyahu to perform with him at Bonnaroo 2005. "It's incredible to be next to him onstage."Anyway, I had the great pleasure of baking under the Tennessee sun to catch this set personally back in June '06. Matisyahu opened with a prayer, and the set continued to rock throughout. The whole set is pretty fantastic, his 2nd prayer break (track 9) is mesmerizing. It's honestly difficult to pick other favorites, this set is pretty solid as a whole. I remember it being worth it in the baking heat and it's even more worth it now that you can enjoy this set in the comfortable shade of your home.
The full set list:
SEA TO SEA, BLESSING, X OF YOUR SONG, EXALTATION, ANCIENT LULLABY, CHOP EM DOWN, TZAMA L'CHOL NAFSHI > GOT NO WATER > CLOSE MY EYES, BONNAROO BOX JAM, NIGUN, JERUSALEM, KING WITHOUT A CROSS, E: FOH/AOE INDESTRUCTIBLE > HEIGHTSSound is a B, and the show was recorded by Michael Miller.