Matisyahu Rocks the Blues

By on November 17, 2014


Matisyahu Rocks the Blues.


The House of Blues in Orlando that is.


On Tuesday October 11, Matisyahu and friends stopped in Orlando to say hello to Mickey and to play in front of friends and his musical family.


Walking in to the House of Blues for the first time, the venue really captivated me; in front of the stage and around the bar, friends gathered for a drink and a laugh. “Is this your first Matisyahu show?” and “Radical Something…aren’t they the ones who sing California?” They chitchatted in anticipation. The walls were adorned with tribal and alternative art. Adding to the already interesting atmosphere, artists from Matisyahu’s tag-along painting troupe, Anamorphosis, could be seen camped out in the back, putting the finishing touches on a forest scene as the show began. The House of Blues with its relaxed atmosphere would serve as a near perfect stage for this duo of reggae/rap acts; the artsy wooden walls oozed Rasta and brotherly love.


josh Cocktail-Radical Something (photo Will Ogburn)

Josh Cocktail-Radical Something (photo Will Ogburn)

The Location

It’s surprising that a place as tourist-friendly as Downtown Disney can maintain a sense of community. After traversing traffic detours and parking in a spot that felt closer to the state of Nebraska than the door of the venue, it’s easy to feel like one of many. But as the doors of House of Blues drew closer, you could feel it in the air. Togetherness was everywhere, and both Radical Something and Matisyahu would make that the theme of the evening.


Radical Something

Radical something is a musically unique group centered around a tri-force of talented musicians. Their show has the vibe of a Cali surf shack combined with a UC Berkley frat party, with the longhaired melodic choruses of Josh Hallbauer (Josh Cocktail) being underscored by the pumped up verses of Alex Lagemann (Loggy) and the beats of Swiss Army Knife instrumentalist Mike Costanzo (DJ Big Red). As they took the stage to a roar of applause, Loggy and Josh had an instant connection with the crowd.


Loggy - Radical Something (photo Will Ogburn)

Loggy – Radical Something (photo Will Ogburn)

First on the set list was the lighthearted track “Vibe to This”. After the listeners were warmed up and dancing, they flowed into their 2011 hit, California. This is where the strengths of the group really began to show. Josh Cocktail serenaded the house with an ode to their home state, and Loggy made the room bounce with his verses and energetic stage presence. For a band so new, their chemistry was undeniable. Radical Something kept the party going with their most recognizable hit, Say Yes. When the vocalists counted “Five, four, three, two, one” before the first chorus, the crowd absolutely lost it. Another high point in the show came when the band played the first song they ever recorded together, “Be Easy.” The audience swayed back and forth as the slow, acoustic melody reverberated off the wooden walls. Overall, Radical Something gave Florida a sunny taste of life on the opposite coast. They were a great appetizer for Matisyahu without being overpowering.


Matisyahu (photo Will Ogburn)

Matisyahu gets in the crowd (photo Will Ogburn)


Matis, as his roadies call him, is an artist that has come a long way over the years. Gone are the yarmulke, full beard, and peyot (side-curls worn by Hassidic Jews) that accompanied the MC on stage for most of his career. Over the last two years, Matis has adopted the look of a sleek tech CEO: short prematurely gray hair, high cheekbones, and a stylish leather jacket. What has remained the same is his mix of traditional Jewish culture into Reggae/dance hall music with a tinge of beat boxing. Matisyahu uses his music as a platform to teach not only the Jewish faith but also love for his fellow man and perseverance through struggles.


Waiting in the photo pit before Matis, the theme of togetherness was ever clear. The crowd has nearly doubled since the start of Radical Something, with fans pouring out of the pit and leaning over railings. The place was in uproar – the sounds of people laughing, a noticeable scent of ganja in the air.


Matisyahu (photo Will Ogburn)

Matisyahu (photo Will Ogburn)

Matis took an interesting approach to starting his show. He came out to thunderous applause, but opted for a mellow vibe with his first three songs. The first, “Star On the Rise” (from his latest album Akeda) came in verses that sounded like intense spoken word with a relaxed chorus. The next track, “Black Heart,” had a similar feel. The lights were dim and shining through Matis’, silhouetting him on the stage. Energy started to build with “Champion,” as Matisyahu began dancing on stage. It was easy to see that the crowd wanted something they could let loose with, and the answer came with the 2006 hit “King Without a Crown.” The lights cut on, illuminating the animated crowd, as Matis danced around on stage.


Audience interaction would be a HUGE part of the show going forward. Sunshine was the next step in the process – the happy track saw friends and random strangers dancing together in blissful appreciation. Midway through the show, the MC stoked his huge Jewish fan base with Jerusalem. The energy in the House of Blues was electric; an Israeli flag began to wave in the crowd as Matisyahu paid homage to the homeland of his people. With the whole house rocking, Matis moved to one side of the stage and began playing with the fans. He motioned to say he wanted to stage dive into the crowd and hands shot up to catch him. Getting a running start, he barreled head first into his fans arms. He spun and gyrated to the center of the mob, supported only by trust. From there, he got on one knee – then rose to his feet, flailing his hands to the roaring public. In just a matter of minutes, Matis completely changed the energy of the crowd from calm to ravenous.




In the next act, Matisyahu showed his beat boxing ability as members of his supporting band Roots Tonic had an unscripted jam session.


All of the festivities of the reggae/rap session came to a head in one grand finale. For the Encore, Matis played his #1 hit One Day as confetti rained from the sky. Nearly everyone sang the chorus and waved their hands in unison.


As the show came to a close, he invited audience members to come on the stage and dance with him. Before long, a crowd of nearly fifty people mobbed the staged and began leading the show – dancing with each other in celebration.


Matisyahu left an impression on the House of Blues that won’t soon be forgotten. He brought happiness, togetherness, and jubilation to a random Tuesday night in November. No matter what ethnicity or religion, everyone has a little something to learn from Matisyahu.

For more information on Matisyahu:


Loggy - Radical Something

Loggy – Radical Something














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