Concert Review: Matisyahu at the Vagabond, January 6

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Click here to view a slideshow of photos from the event.

The Vagabond, Miami
Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Better Than: Your best friend's bar mitzvah.

The Review:

Hassidic reggae/hip hop hero Matthew Paul Miller, a.k.a. Matisyahu, dropped into the Vagabond Wednesday night for a last minute private acoustic set, hosted by Birthright Israel NEXT Miami. A swarm of hippies and yippies and yuppies rushed in from who knows where to share in this rare intimate performance, packing the place. 

Miller was joined by Palmetto High grad Adam Weinberg on guitar, and Miami beat-box bad boy Kamikaze on backing beats and vocals. Unhampered by technical issues or a crowd that at times almost overpowered the performance with side chatter, the trio played from the heart and delivered a truly magical musical experience.   

Once a faulty microphone situation was sorted out and the speakers were all working, the sound was impressively full, especially considering the bare-bones instrumentation. Kamikaze can take credit for a large part of that, with his insane tonal beats and bass lines.  They played perfectly off of Weinberg's guitar lines, as well as off Miller's singing, rapping, and very on-point beat-boxing. At times you forgot that was somebody's mouth making sounds, rather than a drum machine or sequencer.

Offering up a mix of new songs and older sing-alongs, the three showed remarkable improvisational ability, playing off each other's styles almost tenderly. Matisyahu's respect and admiration for Kamikaze's talent was an uplifting thing to witness. It's great to see musicians really enjoying their performances, surprising even themselves with the beautiful music they create together. 

Critic's Notebook

Personal Bias: No me gusta when a place gets so full you can't move, let alone get anywhere near the stage to take pictures.

Random Detail: Everyone expected an encore set that never came.

By the Way: I am publicly calling out the rude girl who first tried pushing me off of the table we were standing on to get a view of the stage, and who then called her meathead boyfriend over to try and scare me away. For the record, I only got down because you were making an unnecessary scene during the first song of an amazing set. That is disrespectful. Whatever happened to freedom of the press? Anyway it worked out for the best because the friendly people in VIP let me hang with them on the other side of the stage.

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