Long lines and the perpetual smell of marijuana rounded the corners of East San Antonio Street in anticipation of “An Acoustic Evening with Matisyahu” Tuesday night at Texas Music Theater.
Despite the wait and 45-minute drive, San Antonio resident Sara Pardo was excited to get inside the venue to see what critics have called the world’s first Hasidic reggae star.
Pardo, in anticipation of her first acoustic Matisyahu show, viewed the photo she took with him at a meet-and-greet in San Antonio. The photo showed a beaming Pardo with a recently clean-shaven Matisyahu, who has been known in the past for his beard.
“I was so nervous,” she said. “I didn’t know what to say. I had never met anyone famous like that before.”
After a long wait in line, Pardo made it to the ground floor of the venue. She knew what to expect from Matisyahu’s change of appearance in person, but for other fans, it may have come as a surprise.
“When he was on stage, he felt so comfortable with himself,” Pardo said. “I know everyone expected him to be with the beard, the whole rabbi look, but he felt so comfortable with the way he is now … I know it was a big controversy.”
For Matisyahu himself, the loss of his signature beard in late 2011 came at a time of self-reflection and liberation.
“I don’t really listen to what other people have to say,” Matisyahu said.
But fans like Pardo, who started listening to the explicitly devotional songs about religion and Jewish identity when she was 17, take what he says to heart.
“I fell in love with him,” she said. “He speaks the truth. Everything’s from the heart and soul. He’s awesome.”
Matisyahu, born Matthew Miller, was clad in jeans, a white zip-up jacket and an “LA” hat, representing his recent change of residence, when he stepped on the stage
Matisyahu’s latest album, “Spark Seeker,” was inspired by his reinvention. The singer, whose past performances have been described by fans as energetic, wanted to dig deeper and be more personal, so he decided to explore songs from the albums acoustically.
What came of that is “Spark Seeker: Acoustic Sessions,” which was released this week, and a short tour that finishes Feb. 19.
“The energy isn’t lost,” he said.
The New School graduate, who dropped out of high school when he was 17, said playing in a college town is no different than doing so in a large city. The positive feelings are always there.
Positive feelings were felt from last night’s crowd when Matisyahu played the 2006 hit song “Jerusalem.”
But Pardo had her fingers crossed Matisyahu would play the songs “Sunshine” from his latest album and “Darkness Into Light” off 2009’s “Light.”
“It’s definitely worth the wait,” she said.