(Taken with my phone, so excuse the fuzziness.)
I’ve said before that I’m not usually into indie-pop/dance-punk. It’s not really my style…blah blah blah. I’m not sure what to make of it was my excuse. In recent years, my girlfriend has played me Matt and Kim, Mates of State, and Passion Pit. My first reaction was usually something to the effect of being polite and smiling.
Turns out, I might be wrong. Last summer, we went to see Mates of State at Baltimore’s Ottobar and I admit I was shocked by how good they were live. The live songs weren’t carbon copies of the studio versions – they were louder, faster, and also made me appreciate the musicianship of the band. As the Matt and Kim show approached, this hesitation was gone. I came in knowing I would enjoy myself.
Right from the beginning, it became apparent that Matt and Kim would tear down the house. There’s only two of them (hence the name) but drummer Kim Schifino and keyboardist/singer Matt Johnson emerged on stage, like it was the Superbowl – lots of jumping and fist pumping. Rarely, have I seen an act so into their own show before it even starts. Usually, the group comes on stage – maybe there’s a “hello” – and it’s “1,2,3,4” and off they go.
And their energy rarely let up as they tore through their three albums (2010’s “Sidewalks”, 2008’s “Grand” and 2006’s “Matt and Kim”). Matt and Kim’s sound relies on Matt’s melodic vocals and odd keyboard sounds and Kim’s pounding drums. The chemistry between rubbed off on the audience – most of whom knew every single word – a fact that Matt admitted he still had trouble getting over. In sections when Matt played solo Kim would stand on her bass drum, jump into the audience, stand on her drum stool and click the drum sticks in time – with a huge grin on her face the entire time.
It was impossible not get caught up in the mayhem and not just because of their stage presence. Seeing them live made me realize, how inventive and original this band is. They somehow managed to have experimental tendencies, punk aesthetics, Springsteen-sized showmanship, and extremely poppy songs.
Without a doubt, the best show I’ve seen in a while.
Also check out Reptar, one of the opening bands. At first, I was very confused. They seemed a little ironic for their own good, but they soon won me over. I’d describe how they sound – but I’m not sure I could really do it justice.