One Cool Yid

One Cool Yid: Matisyahu at Electric Factory, July 9, 2009

I wouldn’t ordinarily get so amped about crowd surfing. But I mean, Matisyahu basically gets a pass for just about anything he wants to do, on stage and off. The man pulls off his contradiction of Hadisdic Jew reggae/hip-hop star with such entrancing genius, he gets to claim cool even when and likely because he’s wearing a yarmulke underneath his trucker’s cap and tsitsit are dangling from his garage jumpsuit.

Religious Jews don’t normally get rock stars to look up to. But this dude rocks out patois, English, Hebrew and Yiddish in any one song, so much so that I more often than would care to admit have no idea what he was saying! He does sing prayers interspersed with the other lyrics and leads a service of swaying adherents who raise their hands in glory. I was overjoyed to join the minyan(s) and groove with the most ancient of my people’s spiritual calls. Sung in reggae and hip-hop and backed up with a jam band. Hellacious, like Adam Horowitz and Trey Anastasio getting together and jamming out with your rabbi.

Needless to say, I was spun around and called to take notice. I actually can imagine hearing the sounds of ripping conceived by the guitars. It had that element of sustained borderline frenzy that good jam bands have.

And in Philly, Matisyahu is home. So if he wants to jump off the stage into the arms of his fans, and compel the rest of his band to do the same, I say l’chaim.