Matisyahu celebrates his 40th birthday next month but he showed no signs of slowing down on Saturday, playing two full sets before a near-sellout crowd at the Crystal Bay Casino.
The artist who goes by his Hebrew name continues to drop messages of hope, delivered in a roots-reggae, hip-hop style.
The band includes bassist Jason Fraticelli, guitarist Aaron Dugan, keyboardist Rob Marscher and, for this tour, drummer Matt Scarano.
Matisyahu hurtled to stardom in 2005 with a No. 1 song, “King without a Crown,” and an improvisational performance with Trey Anastasio in front of 80,000 people at the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival. The Chassidic reggae rapper shocked many of his fans years later when he changed his appearance by shaving his beard and taking off his yarmulke.
His positive messages have always been delivered, including a 2008 hit song, “One Day.” This year, Matisyahu and the artist GRiZ released the tune and video “A New Day,” which features victims and survivors of gun violence.
“I think my message resonates with people,“ he said. “(But) I don’t claim that the songs that I’ve written would make a global impact where you would see less gun violence because of a song that I released 11 years ago. But I do feel that individuals who listen to my music on a much smaller scale than that have benefited and been influenced and hopefully bettered their lives in some way.”
“It is definitely an interesting time that we’re living in. There’s no question. There seems to be so much of a split between those who are really thinking about the future and those who aren’t. But people are changing. There’s no question about it. All the time I hear people talking about climate change who five years ago you would never hear them open their mouth about that type of thing.”
Before his birthday on June 30, there will be changes for Matisyahu, who will get remarried in May. He is taking breaks and performing a bit less, although the summer itinerary is quite packed.
“Forty feels good to me,” he said. “I feel I have a better sense of what’s important and what’s not. I’m looking forward to the music that’s going to be made in these next coming years. I think it’s going to be some of the best stuff that I’ve done yet.”