Last Saturday night, I went to the X Ambassadors at the Fillmore in Detroit.
The X Ambassadors are a popular rock band based out of Charlottesville, N.C. Two of the band members are brothers, the lead singer, Sam Harris, and the keyboardist, Casey Harris, both grew up in Ithaca, N.Y. And, the band members are all Jewish.
Tikkun Olam and the X Ambassadors
The band’s Jewish influence was evident upon entering the music hall. The theme of “tikkun olam” (repairing the world) could be seen throughout the Fillmore. The keyboardist in the X Ambassadors, Casey Harris, is blind, so the band arranged for an organization that supports blind residents of Detroit to meet concert goers in the lobby and bring awareness to the challenges that blind people face daily.
An additional organization took the time to educate people about Detroit’s water shutoffs and how they affect real people.
The band’s Jewish roots don’t end with tikkun olam, though. Judaism is a huge influence on, and off, stage. According to an interview with “York Athletics” the band’s drummer, Adam Levin, stated that as a sort of pre-show ritual, the band recites the Shehecheyanu together.
Diversity at the Fillmore
The concert opened with two diverse opening acts — a band of sisters called the “Ace’s” from Utah, and a very talented solo singer, Jacob Banks, from Birmingham, Ala.
As the Ambassadors walked on stage, lead singer Sam Harris guided his brother Casey to the keyboard. The band opened with their hit song, “Ahead of Myself,” followed by “Jungle.”
Later in the set list, they played “Hoping,” a song about keeping hope alive in hard times. Before performing the song, Sam Harris explained that upon release, all proceeds for the first six months of this song went to the American Civil Liberties Union, continuing with the theme of tikkun olam.
This wasn’t the only time the X Ambassadors stood up for what they believed in. When white nationalists marched in Charlottesville, the X Ambassadors’ hometown, the whole band was very outspoken in addressing how the white nationalist’s ideas were wrong, helping to influence their audience in a positive way.
The Power of the X Ambassadors
After Sam Harris sang “Hoping,” there was a huge sense of unity throughout the whole concert hall. As I looked around, I noticed how diverse the fans were — black, white, Hispanic, Asian — all had gathered to hear the raw truth that was written in the X Ambassadors music.
It was powerful to be united with an artist and an audience who really cared how music impacts the world. From the stage, Sam Harris announced that all Jews, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, gays, believers, non-believers were welcome at the concert.
The X Ambassadors may be popular for their catchy tunes and heart-wrenching lyrics, but they will be remembered because they took a stance on something they believed in and stayed true to themselves in a world that isn’t always forgiving to people who are different.