The Vogue is a great venue in Vancouver. The sound is always phenomenal, the stage is big enough to allow for a large lighting rig, and the staff is always very friendly. After sharing a few drinks in an alley off Granville, with my good friends Derek , Amanda Evan and Scotty, we made our way into The Vogue in time to catch The Dirty Heads set. The general admission crowd was already formed in a large mass in the front of the stage. With beers in hand, we made our way into the mass of people.
The Dirty Heads hail from Huntington Beach. To me, this area of California has a certain musical style to it. A band like Sublime would be an example of this sound. Blending reggae, hip hop, and a little ska together to make a sound you can’t resist dancing to. It is the end of summer here in Vancouver, but The Dirty Heads still brought the beach and summer vibes on stage. Few things at a concert are better than bobbing your head to a good reggae groove. Adding the fact that you can sing along with many of the lyrics, was what put this Dirty Heads set over the top.
Since they were the opening act, the crowd was disappointed when no encore was given. Another “let down” from their set was that Matisyahu did not join them for the performance of Dance All Night. These two factors were far from enough to diminish the Dirty Heads set. Conversations while the crew changed the stage over to Matisyahu revealed that many of the concertgoers were Dirty Heads fans. It was so much so that some people, Derek included left The Vogue between sets. They felt that the one hour Dirty Heads set was well worth the $40 ticket price. Those that stayed, which was still a large amount, were treated to a new set from Matisyahu.
As restlessness grew in the Vogue, the cover art from his latest album, Spark Seeker, was flashed on stage by bright lights. A moody, overdub music began to play as the lights flashed in unison with the music. The crowd erupted as a few shadowy figures took their places on stage. The music continued to swell. Then Matisyahu emerged from the side of the stage and began to play Crossroads. This new song lead a set that drew heavily from the Spark Seeker album. This is what I was hoping for. New album, new tour, NEW MUSIC.
Over time, good artists evolve. In most cases it is the music that changes. Some cases it is the artists image that changes. With Matisyahu, it has been both. I have witnessed the evolution and change in him, and his music, first hand on tour. Touring in support of the album Youth, with his large beard and peyos, the music was a blend of reggae and hip hop. Now Matisyahu is clean shaven, and performing music that is more rock influenced. He is still touring and collaborating with The Dub Trio. This 3 piece, that is ⅔ Canadian, has evolved as well.
Midway through the set, almost as if it was a halftime show, Matisyahu stepped in the spotlight at the front middle of the stage and started beatboxing. The crowd instantly roared once he began. Then once this portion of the show was over, the music took a different turn. He began playing his older songs. That being said, just because it was Jerusalem or King Without A Crown, this didn’t mean the songs sounded the same. The delivery of the lyrics was sped up. New guitar riffs were added. Just as Matisyahu has been evolving, his songs are as well.
The thing with changing as an artist is, sometimes you change and your fans don’t enjoy it as much, or even at all. On this night, as I looked around the crowd, the show was only getting a mild reception. Like during the set break, some fans had gone home during the set. Those that stayed all night, were treated to a great finish to a set.
With the large crowd pressed up against the edge of the photo pit, Matisyahu once again went stage diving in Vancouver. Here is a video I captured of Matisyahu stage diving just down the street at The Commodore. Once Matisyahu was back on stage, he and The Dub Trio started the song One Day. Partway through it, security began helping concertgoers up on stage. As the stage filled up, we all joined in with the uplifting lyrics:
all my life I’ve been waiting for I’ve been praying for for the people to say that we don’t wanna fight no more there’ll be no more wars and our children will play ONE DAY
I was in the pit from the moment we arrived to see The Dirty Heads, until the house lights came on after Matisyahu. The group I was with was a mix, like the crowd, of Matisyahu and Dirty Heads fans. On this night, I became a bigger fan of a band, while respecting the evolution of another. That being said, something happened on this night that happens every so often. The “opening act” played a better set than the “headliner”.