Heading into the Good Vibes Tour at the Santa Barbara Bowl on Sunday evening (headlined by Santa Barbara’s own Rebelution, along with Matisyahu), I expected the differences between this show and the Slightly Stoopid show I reviewed a few weeks prior to be miniscule. For the most part, my assumptions proved valid: The crowd was nearly identical (both shows boasting a surprising number of older people), pillars of smoke rose from various spots in the audience, and there was an inescapable motif of red, green, and yellow throughout.
Bermudan Collie Buddz did a more than adequate job of engaging the crowd, imploring the audience to flip the bird at “haters.” If merch sales can serve as an indicator of an artists’ effectiveness, then the number of Collie Buddz hoodies and shirts seen at the venue would strongly suggest that a great number of attendees, in fact, share Buddz’s distaste for “haters.”
Matisyahu is a former Hasidic Jew whose second album, Youth, peaked at number four on the Billboard charts in 2006. The success was partially due to the record’s infectious melodies and hooks, and partially because, well, he was a Hasidic Jew singing reggae.
The “new” Matisyahu, sans signature facial hair and yarmulke, doesn’t seem to have fully adjusted to the enhanced demands that come with a less-remarkable appearance. On Sunday, he stood around a lot, and the set labored on until he saved it with a few gimmicks, like singing to a child (about the future and how it was bright) and bringing a group of fans onto the stage. Matisyahu seems like he’s probably a super nice guy, but whether his career can withstand his shrugging off his former shtick remains to be seen.
Following Matisyahu’s future-oriented sing-along, I learned, by word of mouth, that the concessions had run out of pizza. This news was greeted, universally, by disdain and profanity. In fact, for a second there, it started to feel like the future may not be that bright after all.
Rebelution took the stage last, backed by a choreographed light show, planters of (probably) fake marijuana plants, and an impressive — and blacklight-ready — backdrop. It all made for a fitting homecoming for the formally local boys, whose latest release, Peace of Mind, was the band’s most popular to date, peaking at number one on the iTunes reggae charts.
Still, all the hoopla felt a little out of place, especially early on. The band’s intro started in complete darkness, then a guitar began to play, and then a blistering purple light and strobes ultimately revealed … guys in tank tops and cargo shorts.
All in all, this show delivered exactly what it promised — “good vibes.” And next year, when Rebelution almost certainly returns to town, you can bet that those same vibes will once again be on full display.