American Express Presale: 4/4/18 3pm - 4/5/18 10pm
General OnSale: 4/6/18 10am
Matisyahu & Stephen Marley
Doors 5pm // Show 6pm
ADV $25 // Day Of $30
Atomic Cowboy Pavilion **BLOCK PARTY**
Atomic Cowboy Pavilion | 21+ unless accompanied by a parent or guardian.
Atomic Cowboy has seated dining inside until 10pm and a food stand outside during concerts. Seating is first come first serve. Doors are 6pm unless stated otherwise, so come early, claim your spot and enjoy!
Limited Seating Available.
No Coolers. No Lawn Chairs.
For ADA seating or to reserve a party of 20 or more in advance, email us at email@example.com
Singer-songwriter Matisyahu has been on journey inward for more than a decade. The journey has been private and public. The journey has at times been explicitly external, even while being driven by internal change. Now nearly thirteen years after the release of his first studio record, Matisyahu and his band have done something unmatched in his past repertoire; they have crafted that journey into a musically thematic eight song movement.
The band features longtime guitarist Aaron Dugan, Dub Trio bassist and drummer Stu Brooks and Joe Tomino, and keyboard virtuoso BigYuki -- and the journey starts with them. The band improvised for hours in the studio with Matisyahu watching on as an admirer without singing a single lyric. Out of the improvisations grew melodic themes, rhythmic peaks and valleys, blissful and proto-song guitar passages, deep dub meditations and ultimately an inspired instrumental record until itself. Only once the band had crafted this musical narrative, did Matisyahu begin to work on a lyrical narrative of his own -- a lyrical narrative that is simultaneously informed and integrated with the music yet driven by Matisyahu's own personal journey. The result is Undercurrent, Matisyahu's sixth studio album.
The record is musically Matisyahu's most courageous release to date and lyrically his most vulnerable.
The courage in the music comes from trust. Trust in the band. And only in the band. There are no post-production bells and whistles or litany of special guests on Undercurrent. On the opening track, "Step Out into the Light" the band lays out a repetitive minimalist verse section that anchors the listener in a near meditative loop only to open up into a gorgeous set of chord changes that makes the chorus feel revelatory, as if the listener has earned this release, and can achieve the song-title's call to action.
By the record's third track, "Coming Up Empty" the band has established melodic themes that will be called upon or re-harmonized later in the record, and just two songs in, it is clear that these musicians are road-tested, brave-song-crafters, with tens-of-thousands of hours of playing together embedded in their muscles and fortified in their bones.
The vulnerability in the lyrics comes from acceptance. Acceptance in uncertainly. Acceptance in the actions of one's younger self and acceptance that while the future may be uncertain, having the courage to trust gives us all the best chance at meaningful relationships. It's a lyrical reframing of the Jewish philosophical differences between emunah (faith) and bitachon (trust). Faith, the constant, and trust the immediate. Matisyahu sets the stage for this conceptually on the record's opening track, but he digs in internally on the authoritative plea in the chorus of "Back to the Old," [I'm giving up, I'm giving in / All I got is what's right in front of me / Is the people that I see...]. He projects it outwardly through questioning in "Forest of Faith," [What's a man got to do, Oh! / To get through to you?] And finally works towards acceptance on the guitar-driven gem "Headright, [And I know feelings come and go / How should hold on, should I let go].
These forces direct the journey of Undercurrent, and as the record progresses the music begins to open up into full band improvisations like a relationship becoming more trusting, willing to take chances, knowing there's acceptance in the process. A stunning example of this is on the record's fifth track "Tell Me." If you stop the song at the three-and-a-half-minute mark, you have a great reggae-tinged pop tune that promises to make a hit radio single. The track however continues for another six-and-half-minutes, beginning with a beautifully re-harmonized keyboard reference to the song's opening wordless vocal melody. From there the entire band begins to improvise. Each player speaking briefly but with purpose, adding slowly and deliberately to the conversation. Drums and bass falling in and out. Guitar and keyboards calling back and forth to each other. The listener can almost intuit the personalities of each musician. The musical conversation continues to build, each band member adding to the improvisation without playing on top of one another. Trust and respect. This is truly Matisyahu the band. Matisyahu the singer is patiently waiting for the band to direct the journey, and he joins back in with a near whisper as the rhythm section finds that incomparable dub groove Brooks and Tomino are famous for.
The level of interplay between Matisyahu and his band mates on Undercurrent is unquestionable and requires multiple listens. Each repetition of a song reveals a guitar line from Dugan that elevates a vocal melody that only 15 years of experience together can achieve. Keyboard patterns from Yuki unrealized in a previous listen connect one song to another and the full band improvisations that climax with an impressive exploratory section on the record's final track "Driftin'" achieve the rare feat of capturing a band's live potential on a studio album.
Ultimately, Undercurrent, is a fully realized concept album crafted by a band-of-brothers who have learned to hold a conversation that is both comforting and challenging at the same time. It plays like a revelatory session with a great psychotherapist.
Like someone watching an ocean wave move chaotically towards the shore unaware of the undercurrent pulling mightily back in the opposite direction, Matisyahu and his band have achieved a musical retelling of the Matisyahu story that explores the forces within that inspire us all, challenge us all, break us down, lift us up, and yet are rarely obvious to the outside observer.
Few people were surprised when Stephen Marley’s long awaited debut solo album “Mind Control” (Tuff Gong/Ghetto Youths/Universal Republic) premiered at No. 1 on the Billboard Reggae Album chart in March 2007; after all, the singing, songwriting and production excellence Stephen had brought to other Marley family projects over the years, including younger brother Damian’s two Grammy Award winning albums, practically guaranteed “Mind Control” would be a remarkable effort. And indeed it is: “Mind Control” is that rare self-produced set featuring a cohesive range of diversified styles, each delivered with equal proficiency. Whether Stephen is the revolutionary roots rocker decrying mental slavery on the album’s title cut, an outraged prisoner protesting his jail term for marijuana possession on the bluesy “Iron Bars”, a forlorn romantic mourning a break-up on “You’re Gonna Leave” or an irresistible retro-dancehall toaster flaunting his mic skills on “The Traffic Jam”, each track on “Mind Control” reconfirms Stephen’s expansive capabilities as an affecting vocalist, a versatile lyricist and an accomplished instrumentalist while furthering his renown as an ingenious producer.
Also unsurprising was the widespread critical acclaim that accompanied “Mind Control’s” release: Interview Magazine called it “a quiet masterpiece, easily the best effort from a Marley progeny” while Entertainment Weekly hailed it as “the best Marley album in a generation.” “Mind Control” was bestowed with the Best Reggae Album Grammy in 2008 while its unplugged version “Mind Control-Acoustic” was similarly honored in 2010, increasing Stephen’s Grammy Award total, earned from his various roles on assorted Marley family projects, to seven, a record-setting number for a Jamaican artist.
Attaining such mastery didn’t happen overnight and Stephen is gratified by the time it has taken. “I believe in struggling to attain greatness and it has taken a lot of sacrifice to get these things,” he explains. “Its like exercise, you can’t just get fit you really have to work at it. It is the same thing with music, if it come easy, it is going to go easy so we really appreciate the years, the time that it takes, the time that we put into it; what comes out of it, I don’t take that for granted either.”
The second son of Bob and Rita Marley, Stephen was born on April 20, 1972; he began his career as a precocious six-year old singing, dancing and playing percussion with his siblings in the group The Melody Makers whose first single “Children Playing In The Streets” was produced by their father in 1979 and released on Tuff Gong, the label founded by Bob in the late 60s. Just like his older brother Ziggy, Stephen acquired his initial studio skills by watching his father. While still a teenager he assisted in the production of The Melody Makers’ albums including their three Best Reggae Album Grammy winners “Conscious Party” (Virgin Records, 1989) “One Bright Day” (Virgin Records, 1990) and “Fallen Is Babylon” (Elektra Entertainment, 1998). In 1993 Ziggy and Stephen founded Ghetto Youths International as a means of controlling their own music and helping upcoming artists. Stephen’s earliest solo production efforts for Ghetto Youths International includes his late grandmother’s (Cedella Booker) album “My Altar”, followed in 1995 by the Ziggy Marley and The Melody Makers single “Works To Do” and younger brother Damian’s “10,000 Chariots”. Both singles hit the Jamaican charts and generated much excitement surrounding Stephen’s burgeoning production expertise.
In 1996 Damian released his debut album “Mr. Marley”, on the Ghetto Youths imprint, with distribution in the U.S. by Tuff Gong/Lightyear. Stephen played several instruments and wrote most of the songs in addition to producing “Mr. Marley”. He also taught his younger brother how to ride a “riddim” and has been an invaluable mentor in Damian’s dramatic transformation from an inexperienced teenaged hopeful into a confident global adult hit-making artist.
The first project that brought Stephen’s production capabilities widespread attention was “Chant Down Babylon”, where he audaciously manipulated his father’s original vocal outtakes from the 1970s Island Records’ sessions, splicing them into duets with hip-hop and R&B artists, while updating the Wailers’ richly textured one-drop rhythms with an assortment of samples, loops and overdubs. The results ranged from the late Guru’s heartfelt take on “Johnny Was” to Busta Rhymes’ street version of the reverential “Rasta Man Chant” to Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler and Joe Perry’s hard rocking raucousness on “Roots Rock Reggae”. “Chant Down Babylon” achieved its objective of bringing Bob’s music to a new generation of fans, earned a Grammy nomination, was certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America and has sold more than one million copies worldwide.
Stephen’s hip-hop infused dancehall beats were far more fluid and complex on Damian’s 2001 album “Half Way Tree” (Ghetto Youths/Motown) with spectacular growth displayed by both the producer and the artist. Stephen demonstrated equal dexterity in creating rugged roots reggae rhythms, which supported the well-crafted, substantial lyrics and the seamlessness of Damian’s vocal flow. “Half Way Tree” yielded several hits in Jamaica, and internationally, including “More Justice” and “It Was Written” (featuring Capleton) and won the 2002 Grammy for Best Reggae album.
Stephen produced and contributed vocals to Damian’s single “Welcome To Jamrock”, the biggest reggae song of 2005. Anchored in a blistering bassline courtesy of Robbie Shakespeare, sampled from a 1985 hit by Ini Kamoze, “World A Reggae Music”, “Welcome To Jamrock’s” haunting, gritty portrayal of Jamaica became an anthem throughout the island and on urban radio all over America. Stephen was nearly finished with “Mind Control” at the time of “Jamrock’s” release but to maximize the momentum of the hit single within the international marketplace, the completion of Damian’s third album now took precedence on his production schedule. Released in September 2005, “Welcome To Jamrock” (Tuff Gong/Ghetto Youths/Universal Republic) entered the Billboard Top 200 Albums Chart at No. 7, a record setting opening week for a reggae artist; it was certified Gold and won the 2006 Reggae Album Grammy while the single was honored for the Best Alternative Hip Hop performance, another first for a Jamaican artist.
Meanwhile, the success of “Welcome To Jamrock” increased the anticipation surrounding the release of Stephen’s solo effort and when “Mind Control” finally arrived, it merited more attention than any Marley family member’s album in recent memory. Recorded at the Marley Music studio in Kingston and the Marley’s Lions Den studio in Miami “Mind Control’s” organic blend of eclectic elements defied categorization, surprising many listeners who exclusively associate the Marley name with reggae. “Mind Control is an enlightening album, it is an uplifting album for your thought and for your spirit,” said Stephen, reflecting on his debut. “To me it is a balanced record because you have some social messages in there, some spiritual messages and some personal messages so there is something there for everyone.”
In early 2010 Stephen contributed vocals to two tracks on Damian Marley and Nas’s lauded album “Distant Relatives” (Ghetto Youths/Universal Republic/Island Def Jam), the hard hitting “Leaders” and the devotional “In His Own Words” and produced a third track, “Patience”. Damian primarily steered the album’s production but Stephen played what both Marleys describe as a “big brother role”. “Well, that means I am the teacher but Damian is his own man, so basically if I hear something, that don’t sound too right, I would say that have to change,” Stephen offered regarding his involvement with “Relatives”. “It was just being his bigger brother and guiding him same way.”
While Stephen has built a formidable reputation handily navigating between genres, his second (as of yet untitled) album, due for release in 2011, marks a return to roots reggae, because “that is just the way the songs came out of me,” he explained. “Having to tour and having been out there for the past three years, I have been writing a lot of new material and to me and to the people around me, this album is very strong, with some very strong political songs. I wasn’t as excited about “Mind Control” as I am about this album,” Stephen enthused. “We didn’t plan it, it just came together naturally and sometimes things just work out better that way.”