A Block Party Bash
Genna McCabe | Monday, August 31, 2009
Saturday saw the exit of one campus tradition and, perhaps, the entrance of another.
On a cool August evening, Eric Hutchison and Matisyahu, two very different artists, delivered entertaining shows during first-ever B1 Block Party which place in the B1 parking lot south of Notre Dame Stadium. Held in place of “The Show,” the event continued a tradition of bringing noteworthy musical acts to campus within the first two weeks of school.
Eric Hutchinson and band took the stage following two student bands, Samurai Jim and the Pat McKillen band. A sharply dressed group, Hutchinson and crew delivered an enjoyable, if not overly energetic set. This is not to say that the band was without energy or enthusiasm, but rather Eric Hutchinson’s music does not lend itself to a high-energy concert atmosphere. Like so many of his singer/songwriter counterparts, Eric Hutchinson’s sound was largely piano driven, somewhat soulful, and catchy if not especially noteworthy.
Hutchinson’s sense of humor, shown not only through occasional comments between songs but also in the music itself, made the performance memorable. At one point he delivered a song, which he had made up “during the last song” about audience members who were playing corn hole rather than watching his set. Complete with lyrics about how stupid corn hole is, and whether it ought to be called corn hole or beanbag toss, the song was witty commentary, relevant to the student crowd. It also proved that Hutchinson is a very talented and innovative musician.
Further proof of his innovation and a highlight of the evening was his rendition of “My Girl” by the Temptations, intermixed with “Ignition Remix” by R. Kelly.
Matisyahu followed Eric Hutchinson. Judging by the crowd response, most people were there to see this headlining act. He got off to a rocky start, performing several lesser known songs, before hitting his stride with a performance of “One Day.”
A Hasidic Jew, Matisyahu’s music has a distinctive religious undercurrent mixed with reggae beats and infectious rap. Matisyahu himself appears an unassuming guy, complete with trademark yarmulke and ear locks. Yet it’s his singing, rather than his appearance, which is truly amazing. His own personal style combine with his style of music to create an artist that has perfected the art of being himself.
The increase in energy level from the audience went a long way toward making Matisyahu’s set more enjoyable than Hutchinson’s. Even to audience member previously unaware of Matisyahu’s work, his live work was surprisingly enjoyable. “One Day” was one of the highlights of his show. A song about peace and change, it expresses a familiar sentiment of our generation. Adding to its appeal, the reggae sound combined with the overall message to create a song that could easily be mistaken for a Bob Marley song.
The climax of the evening was “King without a Crown”, the closing song in Matisyahu’s set. Perhaps Matisyahu’s most well known song, the majority of the audience was singing and dancing along as Matisyahu twirled around the stage delivering the lyrics “I give myself to you [God] from the essence of my being, and I sing to my God, these songs of love and healing.” Toward the end of the song, the student body, led by student body vice president Cynthia Weber, got up and danced on stage.
All in all, the B1 Block Party was a fantastic hit, better than any version of “The Show” from the past few years. Matisyahu and Eric Hutchinson both delivered memorable performances, and made the audience anticipate future Block Parties to come.