On Thursday night, Matisyahu , born Matthew Miller , headlined the season's second WFNX Best Music Poll show, this one at the
This musical anomaly, that is, a reggae- and rap-inspired Orthodox Jewish vocalist, comes across as resoundingly shtick-free and sincere. Backed by a guitar, bass, and drum trio, Matisyahu has an amiable reggae flow in songs ``Youth" and ``King Without a Crown." The simple but rousing refrain of ``Jerusalem" led to the more expansive dub, hip-hop, reggae workout of ``Lord Raise Me Up," which also added Middle Eastern tunings and a haunting vocal chant.
Using delay and reverb pedals, Aaron Dugan 's beautiful guitar work ranged from spacey dub to trippy Pink Floyd-like tinkerings. Matisyahu's breathless blending of staccato rap with more rounded reggae syncopation was almost as impressive as his beatbox vocalizing. Standing, at one point, on the drum riser, Matisyahu's presence, like his music, was audacious and magnetic.
Indie hip-hop troupe Atmosphere also defied categorization with a strong set of easily mainstream rap songs. Turntablist Ant laid simple beats and samples that had gorgeous melodies under frontman Slug 's conversational raps. A backing band of piano, guitar, bass, and drums augmented the hip-hop basics, adding sublime jazzy tones.
Boston power trio Apollo Sunshine opened with a brilliant set that merged rockabilly, blues rock, psychedelic jams, pop, and old-time country.