Local Wire

Matisyahu

As with any hyped-up, talked-about newcomer on a monolithic mega-label like Sony, you have to ask yourself some good, hard questions about Matthew "Matisyahu" Miller. Specifically, will attendance at his live performance be for the music, or for the sheer spectacle of seeing a fully bearded Hasidic Jew strutting and toasting to the glories of Orthodox Judaism? It might be a little glib to call Matisyahu's appropriation of the Rasta spiritual gestalt "cute" — reggae purists may write him off as a novelty act, but then again, purists are never forgiving of mainstream success, something Matisyahu's riddimic mishmash of dancehall, rap, funk, and straightforward jam-band rock has in spades. Matisyahu's 2005 concert CD Live at Stubb's proves that he's a nimble and passionate toaster with a tight, versatile backing band (Roots Tonic) that is occasionally able to kick it up into the transcendent (i.e., "King Without a Crown"). If you've taken any interest in Matisyahu whatsoever, you've probably already looked past his gimmick and into the music, which is even easier to appreciate live.
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Matthew Neff