Canceled Concerts, New Music & More

Matisyahu sat down with Billboard to run through the events that happened in Santa Fe, N.M., and Tucson, Ariz., earlier this month.

The reggae singer’s planned shows at Santa Fe’s Meow Wolf and Tucson’s Rialto Theatre were abruptly canceled due to security concerns, and he ended up performing a show at Tucson’s The Rock for fans to see for free. “There have been protesters at my shows, and two shows got canceled. One of them in New Mexico, where after we had driven hundreds of miles set up, had a sold out show, fans were starting to come, the staff claims that they were afraid to come into the show because of like, tenant protesters,” he says to Billboard. “We’ve discovered that that’s obviously not true and they chose to not come in and to wait untillthe last minute so that we had to cancel the show. The next night, there was a similar situation that happened and when they let us know that the show was canceled, I myself started making phone calls and found another venue, a legendary reggae venue down the street. […] They claimed there that it was a security issue at the Rialto, so we moved everything, found a completely new staff in two hours and had a beautiful concert with no security issues.”

He continued, “People can say what they want, but we know why these shows are being canceled. The bottom line is that we’re going to continue and we’re going to play every show on the tour and any venue that cancels, I have backup venues in every city in America. I’ve been doing 200 shows a year for 20 years in this country, and so we will play our shows regardless.”

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Following the cancellation, Meow Wolf shared a post that read, “On February 14th, we canceled a concert at the House of Eternal Return. Two hours before the show was set to begin, we found ourselves without adequate staff to safely manage the sold out crowd. Meow Wolf will always prioritize the safety of our employees and our guests. We are in the process of refunding all ticket holders […] Meow Wolf believes in free expression, respectful discourse and the power of art to bring people together. We do not tolerate Antisemitism, Islamophobia, hate, racism, discrimination or violence of any kind.”

The Rialto similarly cited “safety concerns and staff shortage” preventing the venue’s ability to “prioritize the safety of [its] employees and [its] guests.”

Matisyahu also opened up about his experience visiting Israel amid the ongoing Israel Hamas War, sharing that he “experienced hope,” which meant a lot “for the Jewish people right now and for a lot of people is this feeling of isolation, separation, anger, fear.”

He continued, “I was feeling really hopeless about what the future is going to look like for all of us and went to Israel and renewed like my faith in humanity and renewed my faith in God. You know, I have to say, I left with this feeling of light and I’ve been trying to take that and really put that into the music and into the shows and we’re facing a lot of tough situations right now. But that’s what I keep going back to. When I think about the people that I met, the survivors of those of that festival, the soldiers that I met, the families of the hostages and what they’re going through, and that’s what’s giving me the strength to to be myself and not be quiet about what’s happening right now.”

Watch Billboard‘s full interview with Matisyahu above.


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