Monday, May 9, 2011

Live Review - Jonah Matranga @ Mercury Lounge

Bjork has a song called "Venus as a Boy," that song and title could and should be singer/songwriter Jonah Matranga's entrance music if not theme song. Matranga, who has fronted various bands such as New End Original, Far, Onelinedrawing, Gratitude and has written for and with Lupe Fiasco, Deftones and Linkin Park side project Fort Minor has made a career being the sensitive musician that cares about not only his music, but his fans and the people around him so dearly. On a beautiful Sunday evening in New York City, Mother's Day in fact, Jonah took the stage and began immediately dedicating his intimate set to his mother and all the mothers in the room. He was not saying it to say it, he was saying it because he meant it and that is what going to see Jonah Matranga is about, meaning it all and feeling it all. His sets are almost as if they can be a small congregation of religious followers in the cathedrals of rock and roll. It is just him, his guitar and an Ipod cranking out homemade beats. Matranga could have a band behind him but it would defeat the purpose of what he is doing, he wants it to be an experience through and through that connects the audience and him in such harmony that it is not about being blown away by the power of his singing or his strumming but the power of what he is saying. He writes as if he has taken the pages out of your life story and set them to song.

I have seen Jonah many times, so much so I have lost track but one thing is for sure, his shows just keep getting more and more organic and beautiful. In what could be a moment I will never forget, just before getting into playing a song from his band Far, "At Night We Live," the title track off last year's release, he discussed his friend and Deftones bassist Chi Chang. Chi who was seriously injured in a car accident in 2008, has been in a coma since then, Far reunited and released At Night We Live in Chi's honor and spirit of his recovery. Jonah discussed wishing Chi's mother a "Happy Mothers Day," and how he would see Chi later in the week, it was then that he began playing "At Night We Live" and then said "well, you can't talk about Deftones without playing a Deftones song," Jonah would then go into playing "Digital Bath," off Deftones 2000 release, White Pony. If you looked around the small room, you would see tears building in everyone's eyes, Chi himself would be proud to have his friend do his own take on his band's song.

After playing for just over an hour, Matranga said goodnight and dictated how happy he was at his current state as a musician, how he has shot himself in the foot not being bigger but it was ok with him because he gets to play gigs like this. Every time I have seen Jonah Matranga in concert I can honestly say I walk away a better person and I believe I speak on behalf of anyone in that room last night and anyone that has ever seen him perform alone.