Matisyahu Revival, Toronto ON - January 22

Neither snow storms nor the holy Sabbath could keep the mixed crowd of Jews and gentiles from flocking to Toronto's Revival nightclub to get a glimpse of self-proclaimed Hasidic Reggae superstar Matisyahu. The packed audience mirrored the many sides of this Crown Heights native, who mixes a bit of hip-hop with a lot of roots reggae and his personal Lubavitch-Hasidic beliefs. Matisyahu's hype is based around several performances in New York's alternative Jewish music scene, as well as an impressive network debut appearance on Jimmy Kimmel. From the moment he stepped on stage, Matisyahu had the crowd in his hand, bouncing and bobbing to the energy of his band's spaced out, rock-influenced reggae rhythms. Maintaining the same spiritual electricity as on his debut, Shake off the Dust and Arise, Matisyahu drifted from track to track with his trademark singing style mixing Shlomo Carlebach and Bob Marley to create a soulful blend of rhythm and spirituality, bridging two very similar musical and spiritual movements. Matisyahu is a representation of shared beliefs and shared rhythms and his understanding of this is what makes him so special. Stopping to speak to the crowd on a personal level, Matisyahu wasn't afraid to share his understanding of the similarities amongst all human beings and his hope for spiritual peace under "one god," a message received by the crowd with joyous shouts and several hands following Matisyahu's lead, pointing to the sky with one finger. As the show progressed so did the energy of the music, culminating at one point with a spontaneous version of Marley's "Soul Rebel," followed by a show of Matisyahu's dazzling beat-boxing skills. Many might have been turned off by Matisyahu's religious side, but in reality it's hard to go to any reggae show that doesn't have a spiritual aura in the air. One half religious experience, one half reggae jam, Matisyahu live is a sight to be seen and a presence that deserves more than just hype.