Kaeleigh Morrison

Matisyahu / The Dirty Heads @ The Hollywood Palladium 9/18/2012

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Tuesday night at the Hollywood palladium, fans gathered to hear Matisyahu perform new material from his summer release, Spark Seeker. Opening for the reggae-rap “king without a crown” we’re Huntington Beach natives Pacific Dub followed by fellow local The Dirty Heads.

The Pacific Dub boys kicked off the night to a crowd modest in size, but certainly not in personality. The heavily bro-tanked and rather intoxicated crowd swayed in time to Bryce Klemer’s watery, reggae guitar. The bass buzzed infectiously through ear canals, shook mandibles, and rattled skulls; the floor oscillated like the earthquake the west coast has been anxiously expecting. If you combined the cool, California, floating keyboard guitar feel of your typical reggae band with the imposing bass and drums of a heavy rock band, you get the earthquake-tsunami that is Pacific Dub.

They didn’t look particularly stoney, they looked rockish, actually. Klemer’s fingers tore up the frets in a way simply unheard of in this genre. As the crowd grew, so did their adoration. Pacific Dub brings the effortless, carefree feeling of reggae, and combines it with the talented technicalities of rock.

As one of the kindest-hearted bands I’ve seen live, lead singer, Colton Place, thanked the audio guys, checked in with the audience to ensure they were “still with em,” said his please and thank you’s, and signed off with a very sincere, “take care of one another.”

After an intermission spent staring at the massive, The Dirty Heads beach scene tapestry, it was time for the fun to start. The house lights dimmed and the crowd went wild. With in the first few strums, the audience was throbbing, swaying, and smoking in preparation for a unique musical experience. Jared “Dirty J” Watson’s voice more a rhythmic instrument than a lyrical vehicle, melding with the pounding bass and tropical percussion. The band looked like the actors from Lords of Dogtown, with their tangles of shoulder-length blonde hair, and comfortable, surfer style.

“After two weeks on tour, we’re finally back in southern California” the mention of our drowsy little corner of the earth was greeted with more enthusiasm than I knew stoners could muster. A few trills of a Latin-inspired chord progression got the rest of the crowd moving as Watson sung out “I got my head in the clouds, now/ I’m so high I’m never coming down.”

The band played fresh songs off of their new album, Cabin By The Sea. What sounded like a xylophone emanated a stoney Little Mermaid theme song, removing any harsh, rock inspiration and replaced it with coaxing, fluid ska, creating a vulgar hip hop on a Caribbean vacation. Watson began rapping and he was actually a lot doper than I expected.

A girl in the front cheered on atop her boyfriend’s uncertain shoulders, greatly contrasting the lead singer’s held a superstar confidence, he buzzed with certainty and ego. “Have you guys had a good summer?” He inquired of the audience. “Have any of you had to work this summer,” to which the crowd cheered in a non enthusiastic agreement. “You can “boo” if you had to work. Work sucks.” Suddenly, the crowd booed on in complete enthusiasm usually reserved for a booming cheer. The band followed Watson’s dialogue with the bouncy, crowd pleaser, “Spread Too Thin.”

“If it was not for the Beastie Boys, we would not be here tonight,” Watson insisted. “I want everyone to scream MCA.” They dedicated a song to the recently deceased of Beastie Boys. These guys were extremely witty and clever in the lyrics department. They effortlessly transitioned to “Lay Me Down,” to which the crowd sang along in unanimous loyalty. The crowd was drunk on musical enthusiasm, a cocktail of intoxicants, and a tide of hypnotizing, electric synth notes.

Cutting to intermission, the sound guy DJ’ed a relieving selection of quieter, yet equally chill SBTRKT and Passion Pit.

The lights dropped suddenly, the crowd boomed with a force so magnetic, that I found myself screaming for Matisyahu. The man of the hour was obscured in darkness as tendrils of synth licked at the audience from the misty confines of the stage. Strobe lights illuminated the stage in dizzying seizures, siren samples plastered across a descent minus, nightmarish harmony of nursery rhyme music box chimes and heartbeats of bass shook my bones. The volume was overwhelming as a clean-shaven Matisyahu sang, “all I got is my life. All I got is my life.” The stage was stained by the tinge of a blood-red gel, and thundering drums poured through a metal-kissed guitar solo, rich with reverb.

Matisyahu gave an amazing set, rich with reggae bounce and hip-hop rhythms. The headliner took it easy on the religion this time around, focusing on empowering, yet fun jams like “Live Like A Warrior,” to which he bounced around the dimly lit, crowded stage energetically. He ended the evening with a bang, the crowd storming the exits immediately, choking on enthusiasm, Hebrew croons, and second-hand smoke.


Photos by Paul Hebert
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