Reggae artist Matisyahu, who broke out with his 2005 Live At Stubb’s album that was certified gold in less than a year, returned Sunday to the venue where it all began. In front of a jam-packed Stubb’s amphitheater, pulsating stage lights and a foggy purple haze, the Grammy nominated artist was back at the iconic Austin venue recording another historic night in the “Live Music Capitol of the World” with Live At Stubb’s Vol. IV.
The Stubb’s Austin show was part of the current “Broken Crowns Tour” featuring direct support from Orange County reggae-rock outfit Common Kings and the Brooklyn-based, Matisyahu-produced, Orphan. To celebrate the three-month tour Matisyahu and Common Kings released a collaborative single, aptly titled “Broken Crowns,” showcasing a relaxed atmosphere and deep lyrical content. This modern reggae anthem is sure to resonate with music lovers around the globe. In addition to Matisyahu, all sets from the night were recorded including Common Kings, whose debut album Lost In Paradise debuted at #1 on the Billboard Reggae Chart, so fans can expect the inaugural Common Kings Live At Stubbs forthcoming as well!
The energy at Stubb’s Sunday night was cranked from the jump. Common Kings, put down an intensely entertaining and infectiously energetic performance featuring elements of reggae, R&B, soul, alternative rock, pop and hip-hop. From their California-coated covers of “No Woman, No Cry” and “Everyday People” to their humorously self-deprecating, breakout hit “Alcoholic,” R&B-pop infused LP title track “Lost in Paradise” and the ambitious “24/7,” Common Kings delivered straight-up, feel good entertainment. Whether dropping diverse originals or throwing a shout out to the West Coast with a thunderous, psychedelic rendition of “The Next Episode”, the reggae rockers were on point.
The headliner, Matisyahu, hit the stage next backed by his live band consisting of guitarist Aaron Dugan, bassist Stu Brooks, drummer Joe Tomino and keyboardist Big Yuki. The Stubb’s crowd saw the most refined and cohesive Matisyahu to date reflective of his newest album, Undercurrent. The album embodies a collaborative and freeform spirit as Matisyahu and his band seamlessly merge instrumental improvisation sessions with lyrics and vocals.
The daringly creative artist known for his unique ability to integrate diverse musical influences kicked-off his set with ‘Star on The Rise’…a nostalgic track at this point better suited for 2005’s Live At Stubb’s recording. The spiritual wordsmith emphatically beat-boxed into ‘Step Out Into The Light’ off his latest LP and got inspirational with the Abrahamic ‘Shade From The Sun.” He even dropped a smooth Outkast cover for good measure before Common Kings joined him on stage for “Broken Crown‘. Matis chose to sign off with the song that started it all, a shirtless stage dive and a crowd surfing salute form the ‘King Without a Crown.’
Twelve years later, Matisyahu still possesses that boundary pushing, soul-searching authenticity that made 2005’s album such a hit. He continues to evolve as a musician, an artist and a spiritual being. But, most importantly for fans in Austin, he continues to return to Stubb’s for sensational live recordings.
Photos by: Anie Walsh