Matisyahu at The Elemental Experience Eric Nielsen 5.3.9
I couldn't get to the show until late and managed to get there just before Matisyahu played. I've been promoting this show for a good month with Will from Roll Call Entertainment, since it supports such a good cause: raising money for the homeless youth of SD. Having worked with the homeless for two years in SD, I know these children need our help. The show raised over $32,500 for the cause, though I'm not sure exactly how the money will be appropriated (I'll try to follow up).
At the Matisyahu show, I met some great folks backstage, especially people from Vokab Kompany and some cat that runs The Grand Artique in PB. The problem came when the security team backstage started clearing the sidewalk for Matis to walk to the stage. It felt so Prima Donna. I'm not sure if it was Matis or the security company, but while the crowd was flying off on adrenaline and ecstasy-charged fun, the security ramped up their agro assholeness.
I was trying to go up to the front to take photos for the site along with the other press photographers, when the head of backstage security stopped me. He denied me access because my camera was too small and I didn't have a press lanyard. I don't have a press lanyard though was offered 'all access', and my digital camera takes fine pics... certainly good enough for our purpose.
After all of the positive communication with everyone else and all the good hard work from everyone involved, this asshole was going to deny our site and our readers photos from Matisyahu's set.
I managed to go around to the other side of the stage where a few other much less agro security folks gave me the ok during one song to get some shots. Man, the vibe was shot because this guy was so at the end of his rope. It definitely tainted my opinion of Matisyahu's set. But on to the review....
The vibe during the show was just right; great cool night on the bay, great location for a show. You could smell lots of herb and the crowd was young and in a great mood, but Matisyahu disappointed. It's never easy to get a quality sound from an outside set. The sound was ok right up front, but in the crowd it was mushy and the individual instruments all blended together...nothing stood out.
I had anticipated a great, tight show (the albums are crisp and beautiful), but the band was often off, missing changes (visible through Matisyahu's reactions to the band) even though Matisyahu said in an interview with BSD earlier that this was his favorite band to play with. True, he's got a great voice and the spirituality in his music is of high interest to me... it just didn't come across so well last night. His clothes and beard felt more like props than a part of his reality.
The other artists seemed to have had a great time, the setting was beautiful and the cause was right, but it only takes one asshole to ruin a vibe...and most crucial to a concert is the sound and it wasn't that great. Maybe no one else noticed, but I did.