Live: SOJA & Matisyahu (10-31-12)

Live: SOJA & Matisyahu (10-31-12)

Date: Wednesday, October 31st 2012
Line-up: SOJA & Matisyahu
Location: nTelos Wireless Pavilion. Charlottesvilla, VA
Set Times: SOJA: 8:30-10:15pm, Matiyahu: 7:00-8:00pm

The hills of Charlottesville were full of Halloween festivities as everyone from Charlie Chapman to Waldo (yeah, we found him) were strolling around town waving at cars as they passed. The event had its own challenge that took it from an ordinary Halloween show to the 1st Annual HallowGreen Bash! Those attending were challenged to dress in their “Best Recycled Costume” and to ‘get creative and use what you have at home.’ Simple steps that promote overall awareness for better treatment of the earth ties heavily into the message of SOJA’s newest release “Strength to Survive”.

The venue was outdoors and made for a crisp night in the Virginia hills following hurricane Sandy, quickly changing the climate from an end of summer feel to a definitive beginning of fall. The Charlottesville Pavilion is situated literally in the heart of town with buildings and bridges surrounding the premises, carrying the sounds of the evening down Main Street.

Those who got a late exit from their office may have been in for a surprise as costumes of the evening ranged from bloody brides to a clever home-made jellyfish with light-up tentacles extending from a clear umbrella. The guys had a fair showing too with homage to the infamous Jamaican bobsled team of the early 90’s movie, “Cool Runnings”.

One of the winning costumes was a duo that when together, created a pong table made of cardboard and string with the fronts emblazoned with “SOJA 2012”. This was not only made with recycled materials the girls already had, it was a functioning and practical flip-up pong table!

Almost immediately after setting foot in the Pavilion area, a large image of Matisyahu’s album cover from his latest release, “Spark Seeker” looked out on the crowd and as the venue lights went down, the costumed crowd came to life. Extending over the cheers was a low and slow intro that gained ground before Matisyahu and Dub Trio took the stage to deliver a crowd pleasing set with a solid mix of new and old songs.

The excitement of the evening and the liveliness of the partially zombie attendance looked to be enough to raise the dead. With flawless vocals, it was easy to see why virtually every song had members in the crowd declaring it was “their jam”. The traditional crowd surfing leap came during the last song of the set, “One Day” to cap off the first half of the bash!

The setup in between the acts had some fans perplexed as a podium was rolled out onto the center of the stage and the setup crew donned suits and shades. The lights went out as the venue was filled with screaming and chanting until the darkness was broken with the voice of Matisyahu introducing President [Jacob] Hemphill.

Following the introduction, “Hail to the Chief” began to play and the President approached the podium flanked by his cabinet and appointed staff, dressed up in suits for the occasion. The chosen Halloween outfit keeps with SOJA’s roots in Arlington, VA, and they did their best to project an atmosphere of a campaign event. Jacob stepped up to the podium to an already roaring crowd, clutching the first guitar ready to address the SOJA nation! But the fun Halloween vibe went to a brief bit of calm as everyone hung on the short reggae-dential speech by Jacob:

‘My fellow Americans…No, for real though, the country’s pretty messed up and the presidential election, even though you need to go vote, it’s probably not gonna fix the problems that we have. The economy is broken, the presidential system is broken, Congress is completely broken. The environment is dying, it’s suffering and we’ve got a lot of issues that we need to come together and resolve. The world needs a new kind of leadership, one we maybe haven’t seen before but one that we need right now!’

As the final words of the address were spoken, the band seamlessly jumped into a fitting “I Don’t Wanna Wait” and the calm was transformed as the energy went through the roof and a distinct “fog” rolled in.

Throughout the show Jacob and Bobby Lee expressed their pleasure with being home in Virginia. With some of their family and friends in attendance and the excitement in the crowd, they took everyone within earshot on a journey of SOJA’s ever expanding musical styling. Every show is different, bringing so many variations of their songs to the stage, this one including an acoustic rendition of “Rasta Courage.”

Fresh off of their South American tour, the guys brought the vibe and flavor back with them as multiple drums worked their way on and off the stage throughout the show. This included a drum session that brought Ryan Berty from behind his drum set to lead a drum brigade of Hellman Escorcia, Rafael Rodriguez, Bobby Lee and Patrick O’Shea with Kenny Bongos dancing and using one of his shakers to round out the sound. Pre-emptive to the encore, drum sticks were flying across the stage and even used by Trevor Young on his guitar before the next toss, when more of the band joined in on the revolving throws!

After some of the “haze” had faded, Jacob re-addressed the crowd, reminding them one elected official, regardless of who it may be, cannot make all of the necessary changes. Everyone needs to be the change they want to see in the world; punctuating their “one world, one family” philosophy.

The fans in Charlottesville were treated rather than tricked with an amazing opportunity to see two world class acts in reggae somehow work their schedules to put on a show that has their facebook pages riddled with comments, like ‘best Halloween ever.’

SOJA Set List:
1.) I Don’t Wanna Wait
2.) Decide You’re Gone
3.) Strength To Survive
4.) Be Aware
5.) Rasta Courage
6.) Faith Works/Rest of My Life
7.) When We Were Younger
8.) You Don’t Know Me
9.) Let You Go
10.) Not Done Yet
11.) To Whom It May Concern
12.) You and Me
13.) Sorry
14.) Everything Changes
15.) Tell Me/Here I Am

Matisyahu Set List:
1.) Crossroads
2.) Searchin
3.) Darkness Into Light
4.) Time Of Your Song
5.) Live Like A Warrior
6.) Sunshine
7.) Chop ‘Em Down
8.) King Without A Crown
9.) One Day

Article & Photos By: Mike Tison

Check out more of the photos from the night!