A night with Matisyahu

Matisyahu, a Hasidic Jewish rapper, performs at Norton with Ry Cuming Oct. 1.

When Matisyahu stepped on stage last Saturday, Oct. 1, Norton Auditorium turned into a dancehall. As soon as the music started, several hundred students fell into a groove that could be felt from outside and lasted the next two hours.

Matisyahu performed many of his hit songs for the UNA crowd such as “One Day,” “King Without a Crown,” “Youth” and “Jerusalem.”

During the show, he shuffled around the stage, absorbed the bass from the monitors and even performed a solo beat box song.

In the middle of the show, a rabbi came on stage and blew a shofar to ring in the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, which was welcomed with cheers from the audience.

At the end of the show, Matis dove into the hungry crowd and surfed for several minutes before pulling the audience on stage with him for the last song of the night.

The concert was the first ever sponsored by Residence Life, according to ResLife director, Kevin Jacques. He thought the show went great.

“I thought it was awesome,” he said. “The band was tight. Matis was in the groove. The audience was totally into it.”

The students felt the same way.

“Mind-blowing. Best I’ve ever seen. Stupendous. Insane. Incredible. So sick,” were some of the words used by students Ryan Crane, Cullen Akin, Justin Argo, Jake Tanner, Kyle Crown and Josh Hall to describe Matisyahu’s performance.

Jacques was trying to appeal to a large audience when ResLife chose Matisyahu.

“(Matisyahu’s music) is a kind of music that can resonate with all walks of life,” Jacques said. “It’s not country, rap or metal. How many times do students get to see something like (Matis’ performance)?”

Several students were surprised at ResLife’s choice of performer.

“I didn’t believe it the first time I heard he was coming here,” Crane said.

Argo agreed that choosing Matisyahu was a surprise.

“Definitely surprising,” Argo said. “Matisyahu in Florence, Alabama. That’s definitely surprising.”

“It’s amazing,” said senior Cara Depew, in her Matisyahu T-shirt. “It’s the best thing (ResLife) has ever done. I’ve seen him four times. He’s like my favorite artist.”

While there were several students who were long-time fans, Matisyahu said it was good to see that not a lot of students knew all the words to his songs.

“(The students) were great,” he said. “They were really warm. It was cool to see people who were not really familiar with my music be so enthusiastic about it.”

Matis also reflected on the blend of spirituality and music during his performances.

“The two things go hand in hand,” he said. “Music to me is a sort of door opener into the spiritual world. That’s how it’s always been for me as a listener or a performer. I can’t really escape it. The more I can let myself get saturated in the music, the more I can try to create something of that dimension.”