On Tuesday night I went with a few people to see Matisyahu play at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City. It was his third and final show in the city, and the 5th night of Channukah. For those of you not familiar with him, Matisyahu is a Chassidic Orthodox Reggae rapper. He sings in authentic Reggae style, but lyrically ties in with Judaism and spirituality.
Put simply, the show was incredible. From a talent standpoint, Matisyahu is extremely impressive - he sings, raps, does beat box, dances, the works. From an entertainment standpoint, too, he owned the crowd - walking out into the crowd, climbing up into the high levels, bringing out guest stars (including Israeli rappers and well known Reggae singers) and mixing up his style.
More significant to me though was how he managed to embrace the crowd and the significance of playing during the holiday. He spoke of singing the same words that King David spoke thousands of years before, spoke about voyage to Jerusalem, and called out for people to hold their candles high when he saw anyone who had snuck in a Menorah pull it out and light it.
To end the night, Matisyahu brought out his mother and her sing the prayers, as well as light a giant Menorah for the 5th night of Channukah. In a moving feat, the entire crowd seemed to with her, focused on the candles. It was an amazing cultural phenomenon and display of Jewish life that seems rare in such a setting, and I was extremely proud to be a part of it.
Here are some videos from the night that I found on YouTube (thank you to everyone who posted them):
Singing "Indestructible" at the beginning of the concert
Doing a beat box solo (starts around 1:25 in the video)
Speaking of King David