Matisyahu Brings Passion And Love to First Avenue


I went to a concert on Wednesday night because I like the artist and because it’s my job to go to concerts and review them. I did not go as a political statement. This is not a political post. Nor should it be

Nothing about walking up to First Avenue on Wednesday night was normal. With dozens of cops on the street and metal gates separating people going to First Avenue’s main room from everyone else, it felt a bit nerve wracking as I walked up to the familiar and always welcoming doors. I honestly don’t think I was able to take a deep breath until I was inside the room surrounded by my people– people who like music and won’t let politics or the masses get in the way of that. I instantly forgot about all of the hullabaloo happening outside. It was just me, two amazing artists, my home away from home, and hundreds of strangers who wanted the same thing out of the night- peace and love in the form of amazing music.

Santa Barbara, California based Cydeways was the one and only opening act on the bill for Wednesday night but, with what they brought to the stage, nothing else was needed to get people ready. Their sound was chill and I instantly found myself mentally on a sandy beach with a cold frozen drink in my hand rather than in a dark venue in Minnesota. Stylistically, you definitely got a bit of that typically California reggae-surf-rock vibe but there was something a bit different about Cydeways’ vibe. There was a little bit of anger and aggression hidden behind their chill vibes. I’m not sure if that’s because of the situation that they’ve been put in with being an opening act for such a controversial tour (again, will not get into it but if you want to know more, feel free to do your own research). Regardless, I liked this slight edge that Cydeways brought that seemed to peak as they bridged into a passionate cover of “Sabotage” from Beastie Boys.


The set changeover between Cydeways and headlining act Matisyahu seemed to take ages. I’m not sure what the reason was for that other than the fact that there was a slight sense of tension in the air but I was relieved as the legendary reggae singer, rapper, beatboxer, and overall amazing musician took the stage. I’ll admit, it’s been quite awhile since I’ve seen Matisyahu perform. I know that he ditched his Hasidic (aka Ultra-Jewish) look years ago but I wasn’t expecting to see grey and white locks falling from his head and a cane in his hand. It took me a second to get used to this new version of him but, as soon as he opened his mouth, all of those thoughts fell to the wayside.

Matisyahu has a very distinct style. It’s reggae meet raps all tied up in a bow of passion and beatboxing. I’m not kidding. At one point, he and his band went from one of their beautiful and soul-fueled tracks into a beat-boxed rendition of “So Fresh, So Clean” from Outkast. I honestly don’t know if that cover was planned or completely out of the blue because of how Matisyahu is when he performs. Don’t get me wrong, Matisyahu performs with such a sense of conviction and heart behind every word he sings and says but, at the same time, he doesn’t seem to care about what his movements look like on stage or if he’s singing to the audience or his band. There’s something charming and magical about that. There were points throughout his performance on Wednesday night that felt more like watching a band practice than a legit performance but, at the same time, every song was performed flawlessly. It was as if you were being treated to a super special performance in a way but, in reality, this is just how he works.

Another part of his performance on Wednesday night that seemed to breakdown that fourth wall between the stage and audience was when Matisyahu welcome his son, Laivy, to the stage to play two of his own songs. Clearly following in his father’s footsteps with a true passion for music, I feel like Matisyahu allowing his son to use this platform was almost like welcoming fans into their family in a strange way. Laivy’s music didn’t suck. One of the tracks had a very Eminem vibe to it while the other had a more KennyHoopla vibe and both of them were performed in a way that would make any father proud.


The show must go on. That’s the saying, right? With everything happening as close as outside the main doors to First Avenue to on the larger scale around the world, things are a bit scary and, quite honestly, fucked up (pardon my language) but, Wednesday night in First Avenue there was a celebration of good and honest music from a man who just wants to share his message of peace and love. I don’t know if that’s what everyone else took away from the night but that’s what I got and it’s a feeling that will be flowing through me for quite a bit of time to come.