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Matisyahu to Venues Canceling Shows: “We’re Not Going to Stop”

So far, the upcoming shows – including two in California – are still being held as planned.
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February 21, 2024

Matisyahu and his crew were getting ready for his show at Meow Wolf, a venue in Santa Fe, New Mexico, after driving from the previous show in Austin, Texas. However, 20 minutes before he was set to do a VIP meet and greet with his fans, he found out some distressing news.

“One of my fans asked me if my show was canceled,” he told the Journal. “I said, ‘No way. Why would it be canceled?’”

The singer quickly called his manager, who told him that the staff at Meow Wolf, who claimed they were pro-Palestinian, decided not to come into work that day to protest the show. The show was subsequently called off.

“My crew and I sat in my tour bus while some protestors gathered outside and chanted, ‘From the river to the sea.’ That was fun,” he said, in a sarcastic tone.

As Matisyahu and his crew drove to the next venue, the Rialto Theatre in Tucson, Arizona, and started loading their equipment in, they got notice that this show, too, was canceled.

“I’ve played there many times over the years, and it’s always been a great venue and crowd,” Matisyahu said. “I heard the same thing: they’re planning to cancel the show. I went on a rampage to find a new venue. I thought, if they’re going to cancel our shows, we’re going to play somewhere.”

He called a friend and found a new venue that typically hosted reggae artists, The Rock.

“We had a free show with our own security,” Matisyahu said. “There were tons of fans and Jewish kids and Israelis. There also weren’t any security issues, which is the reason the Rialto gave for canceling the show.”

In a viral social media post after the cancellations, the singer wrote about the venues, “They do this because they are either anti-Semitic or have confused their empathy for the Palestinian people with hatred for someone like me who holds empathy for both Israelis and Palestinians. It is truly a sad day when dialogue with those you disagree with is abandoned for hate mongering and silencing artistic expression.”

Matisyahu said he believes that the staff who didn’t show up to work are, “young and ignorant and don’t know the truth of this conflict.”

So far, the upcoming shows – including two in California – are still being held as planned. Along with the protests and past cancellations, someone wrote “pretty obscene things about Jews and Israel” on Matisyahu’s trailer, he said. “It’s what we are dealing with out here now. Some places where we know there will be issues, like Portland, where they threw red paint all over the venue where my name was, we will be ready. There are probably going to be a lot of protestors.”

“If we get canceled, we’re not going to stop.”

Every night of the tour, Matisyahu puts an empty chair on the stage, drapes an Israeli and Golani Brigade flag on it and mentions it’s there for the hostages. He also puts up videos of his performances on social media, saying in a recent post, “I’m gonna be iron, like a lion, in Zion,” quoting Bob Marley.

“What’s happening now is something that affects all of us musicians and people traveling around the country and making a living,” he said. “These things happen if you speak out against Hamas.”

Despite the protestors who show up and the disparaging messages that Matisyahu receives online and off, he said there has been much more love than hate on this tour, which encourages the singer to keep going.

“If we get canceled, we’re not going to stop,” he said. “We’re going to every single city on this tour. If we get canceled, we’ll find another place to play, whether it’s a Hillel or a Chabad house, whatever it is.”

He continued, “We are really feeling the love right now. There are a lot of Jews and supporters of Jews who are stepping forward. I’m getting calls from all types of people who say, ‘Matis, don’t be afraid. Don’t stop.’”

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