Matisyahu @ Velvet Jones ~ March 12, 2014

We’re all Kings and Queens

photo by paul dunkley

It was announced five days before the show – Matisyahu to perform an acoustic show at Velvet Jones, Downtown Santa Barbara.

Sold out. Early show. Big name. Small venue. It was packed tighter than sardines in the ol’ Velvet Jones early. Everyone was excited to see the Matisyahu so intimately.

photo by paul dunkley
The stage held three stools, one mic, and an effects pedal mixer. Without pomp, he walked out onto stage without his signature beard and black garb, looking more like Matthew Paul Miller from West Chester than the legendary alternative hip-hop slash reggae rock artist known as Matisyahu. With him was one guitarist and one bassist. This was going to be something.

Luckily, I tucked myself away upstairs so that I could see the artist and hear the music over the crowd. I’m not sure how the crowd could see the stage for all the people in the audience. Plus, a big 6’4” man planted himself very front and very center, bumming out over a third of the crowd. I was lucky indeed.

Matisyahu cleans up nicely. It was quite a mesmerizing
photo by paul dunkley
transformation. He and his band started with new music, which seemed a combination of scripted songs and free flow jam. Matisyahu beat-boxed, while the guitarist added effects via the pedal. There were some mistakes and much laughter. It was obvious they came to Santa Barbara to demo their new music and work through some kinks. And it was something.   

Not one to disappoint the crowd, Matis (cuz we cool like that now) played some of his hit songs, although they took on a different quality here in this space. It was quite a privilege to see Matisyahu and his band this intimately, and indeed we all felt like we were Kings and Queens.