Last Night: Matisyahu At House Of Blues

Matisyahu House of Blues July 27, 2010

8:54 p.m.: Man, we totally underestimated the market for American Hassidic Jewish reggae musicians. This place is packed.

8:56: Dub Trio is on stage. They're a fairly impressive trio from Brooklyn. Not Beastie Boys impressive, but fun nonetheless.

8:59: Are you aware that two sodas cost $7 at House of Blues? Jesus. That's absurd. No joke, the Dollar Giant down the street from our house - we obviously live in a very nice neighborhood - sells two two-liter bottles of Coke for $1.09. The fact that we know that makes paying $7 for two cups of ice and soda excruciating. Knowing you're getting ripped off is way worse than just getting ripped off. #fml

9:04: There's a guy standing here with a baseball hat tucked into his back pocket. He does not, however, have a wallet on his head. That was almost a really excellent situation.

9:09: Attn: Everyone. Wacky socks do not make you look interesting. They make you look like a moron.

9:12: This poor guy is standing around looking for his buddy that wandered off. He said he'd be back in a few minutes, but it's been at least twenty five. When a guy says he'll be back in a few minutes, he never actually means that. It's like telling someone that you went you to high school that you'll call them after you run into them at Target. Or telling a girl that you put the condom on. #UnsafeSexIsCool

9:19: It's dumb when rich people try to make themselves look like they're not rich. For whatever reason, they tend to do that at shows like this. You can always point them out, though. They just walk differently than the rest of us. It's like picking out zombies from the uninfected.

9:34: Matisyahu has made his way out. He does so to a backdrop of typical Matisyahuan mood-building sonic brooding. He eventually starts beatboxing. He's wearing jeans, an Adidas jacket and a yarmulke, which we're told is not okay to refer to as a "tiny Jew hat."

9:38: Okay, he's pretty good. Fuck. Half our jokes just went out the window.

9:43: Is Matisyahu in the middle of a dance break? Christ, this just gets better and better. He's doing "Youth" right now. It's way better live than when you illegally download it purchase it legally and then listen to it on your computer.

9:47: His yarmulke fell off while he was ferreting around, which he does at just about any intermission in any song; his backing band is very solid. He immediately pulled the hood from his jacket up over his head. Cool.

9:48: Holy cripes. There's a guy standing here who looks like a cross between the fat kid from Superbad and John Belushi. He's probably awesome to hang out with.

9:49: Maybe the thick part of the crowd at a reggae concert isn't really the greatest place for you to be if you're very pregnant?

9:50: He's beat-boxing again. He's good at that too. Beat-boxing is one of those things where the better you are at, the less good you are at life. It's like juggling or ventriloquism.

9:53: Some guy is wearing a Rally to Rebuild Galveston shirt. Yipes. Is that place still all screwed up? What about Louisiana? Is that place still all screwed up too? Hasn't it been years already since those hurricanes happened? Man, someone should really do something about that. Oh, hey, did you know the new season of Jersey Shore starts soon, right? Excellent.

9:56: When Matisyahu tapers back his Jamaicaness, he's way easier to understand. This whole situation seems very thorny. More on that in a bit.

9:57: The fans here are all polite and shit. They're like, "Oh, excuse me," and "Can I get by here?" and whatnot. What's up with that? #I'mToughWhenThugsAren'tAround

10:00: The intro from "For You" is pumping out. Good stuff.

10:01: Are you really wearing a Cy-Springs Class of 2006 shirt still? Why? #StepYourShirtGameUp

10:05: He's doing that song where he talks about calling Israel.

10:25: "I Will Be Light."

10:38: There are lots of moments where Matis isn't singing or really doing anything. He might howl or whoop or be like, "OOOHHHHHH, OOHHHHHH" for a bit, but just as often he's quiet. It's weird, but the crowd seems to think it's cool, like maybe they see him as being intent on setting a mood rather than simply being inefficient. They really buy into it. Raucous cheers after every stoppage.

10:44: Noticeably absent from this Jamaican show tonight: Actual Jamaicans. Which leads to a natural question: Is this concert, or more specifically, what Matisyahu purports to be, an okay thing? For certain, that is a long, long conversation to have; too long to address in timestamps, anyway. To tackle a more immediate quandary: Is it okay for him to make that Jamaican accent when he sings?

It seems like maybe that might be offensive. Cultural appropriation is wobbly footing, yet that's sort of what he's built his (very successful) career on. But racial role-play - the assumption that only Black people are allowed to sing reggae like that - is equally treacherous, with the potential to be equally offensive. The crowd doesn't appear too concerned, but Matis has to have some engaging bullet points for that talk.

Either way you go, it would be nice to be able to talk to him about that whole situation.

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