Date: Thursday, October 16, 2014
Line Up: Matisyahu, Radical Something, Cisco Adler
Location: The Shobox at Market. Seattle, WA
Stage Presence: A-
Live Sound: A-
Stage Presence: A
Live Sound: B+
Stage Presence: A
Live Sound: A-
Matisyahu performed at the Showbox near Pike’s Market in Seattle, WA and Bananabeat Records was gracious enough to allow us access at the last minute. The Showbox website had the show starting at 8:00pm so I planned on getting there around 7:00pm to have my ritual pre-show beverage.
After settling in my seat next-door at 7:20pm I noticed the set times on a piece of paper behind the bar saying Cisco Adler was playing at 7:30pm! I downed the rest of my IPA like a frat boy and headed inside just as the Hawaiian raised SoCal resident made his appearance on stage.
Adler is nothing short of a professional raised in the entertainment industry his entire life. He surrounded himself with talented players and shared older songs along with tracks from his latest release Coastin’. His laid back demeanor off stage shines through his on stage performance as he interacts with his audience. Despite being given no sound check, his vocals mixed beautifully with the smooth electric guitar from J Randy, combined with beats on the Cajon and head-bobbing mixes by DJ Skinnie.
Just the right amount of smoke accentuated the moderate lighting changes as Cisco entertained the growing number of concertgoers who made their way to the stage to catch his final songs. With no warning, the venue staff cut Cisco off in the middle of his final song. Adler’s Hawaiian “no worries” attitude allowed him to shake it off with a smile on his face. Personally, I do not see the problem falling two minutes behind on a show that was already advertised to start at 8:00pm. I found it quite disrespectful and unprofessional of the venue.
Since our photo pass was band specific, meaning we could not gain access to the other artists, we went on a mission to find someone who would help. Matisyahu’s tour manager took the time out of his undoubtedly busy schedule to oblige us and for that we are tremendously grateful.
Thankfully, we were able to catch a majority of Radical Something’s set. Alex Lagemann, Josh Hallbauer, and Mike Costanzo make up this hip-hop/rock/reggae trio who mix in some California sounds. The group’s in-your-face attitude is only overshadowed by their distinct vocal abilities. Although many artists are now blending reggae with hip-hop, these three provide the sound to be modeled after.
Perhaps venues do not put much attention into opening acts but I feel many stage lighting designers do not focus on the details of the opening acts. Radical Something’s music did enough to get this Seattle crowd dancing and waving their arms, however, the slightest tweak in lighting changes based on the song tempo would have provided the extra visual appeal.
Soon after their set, Matisyahu’s banner was raised to the sound of cheers as if Old Glory was being lifted to the National Anthem on the first Fourth of July. When security would not let The Pier’s photographer through with our newfound photo pass, we were fortunate to run into Rafy Ochoa, who was more than willing to share is unique perspective and photographic eye for our article.
Eruption from the eager crowd nearly drowned out the ambient music that introduced Matisyahu. His music can be described as a spiritual journey with blending multiple genres to connect us to a higher power. He is a lyrical poet with pure raw talent and has a way of keeping his fans transfixed on his every move. After performing newer tracks off his latest release, Akeda, such as “Star on the Rise”, “Black Heart”, “Broken Car”, and “Champion”, Matisyahu took us back in time to his 2004 top 40 hit “King Without a Crown” to a more than willing Washington congregation.
After an early & minor feedback issue in the PA system, the rest of the set was completely clear and free from any auditory abnormalities. The stage light designer did a phenomenal job of focusing attention on Matis’ slow movements to allow his words to speak for themselves. He continued with songs from his latest release that appears to be just as accepted as his previous records.
I did not notice his signature crowd surf, which was my only disappointment of the night. But the combination of his holy words and unbelievable beat boxing skills before closing with “Sunshine” provided the stage presence that so many performers lack. Perhaps the legalization of marijuana has mellowed out the Washington music scene because I do not think the crowd would have caught him even if he had jumped into their loving arms. Despite the venue issues and lackluster lighting used for the opening acts, the sound engineers did their duty.
His encore consisted of the fan favorites “Jerusalem” and “One Day” as hands were raised into the air. A feeling of tranquility settled over the crowd as open hands closed into peace signs as Matisyahu said goodbye to the Showbox.
Ras Starms Washington, a publisher and poet with Picaro Press, summed up the set perfectly when he told me: “Matisyahu is the real deal. He is parallel to Orthodox Rasta, although he is Orthodox Hasidim.”
He added, “The songs he writes are Hasidim songs; that are his inspiration, which is so close to Rasta cosmology, philosophy, hermeneutics, theology… it is the same thing” and “he is the perfect antidote for all the those… white bread, white bands that try to play reggae. Go to see Matisyahu and you will get the real deal.”
Matisyahu Set List:
1.) Star on the Rise
2.) Black Heart
3.) Broken Car
5.) King Without A Crown
7.) Vow of Silence
8.) Sick For So Long
11.) One Day
Radical Something Website
Radical Something MP3 Massive (FREE MP3)
Cisco Adler Website
Article by: Blake Taylor
Photos by: Rafael Ochoa
More photos from the event…