(Photography by Cristiana Wilcoxon)
Pulling up to The Grove in Anaheim, we quickly found ourselves in a tale of two worlds. The fun-sized venue, situated behind the shadow of Angels Stadium, was already blastings beats in anticipation to Matisyahu.
After submitting to a TSA-like frisking, we entered The Grove and made our way to the main stage. Fortunate enough to catch a few tunes from The Dirty Heads, we channeled our inner ragamuffin as the crew set the stage for Matisyahu. With the backdrop donning the cover of his latest album, Spark Seeker, Matthew Paul Miller slowly entered the stage in a seemingly hypnotic state.
After shedding his decade-long Chassidic image in December 2011, he looked more Miller than Matisyahu. Appearances aside, Matisyahu obliged the crowd with an authentic blend of his past and present work. Combining his reggae beats with traces of hip-hop and Top 40, Matisyahu delivered an eclectic showing that delighted the crowd’s diverse musical palates.
First, he solo beat-boxed an intense set to get the crowd hyped. Next, Matisyahu took a moment to reach out to his fans…literally. No stranger to faith, Matisyahu crowd-surfed his way through the audience prior to returning to the stage. Before the show came to a close, the artist had one more trick up his sleeve. Sublimely demonstrating his improv skills, he free-styled an entire rap about Honest Tea. Because who doesn’t love an all-natural juice that sounds like an admirable virtue?
Leaving the event, my suspicious about Matisyahu were confirmed. While his unique Jewish image may have initially propelled him onto the music scene, his passionate and artful work continues to keep the crowds coming back for more.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY CRISTIANA WILCOXON