Electro pop duo Matt and Kim have returned to the road after a four year hiatus from live performances with their last record “Almost Everyday” in 2018. With their roots playing intimate house shows in Brooklyn, the band’s brand of massive choruses and high energy sets interspersed tracks from Megan Thee Stallion and Nicki Minaj. The pop playlist energy absolutely rocked the Culture Room like the ultimate house party. Billed as “Matt and Kim Present: THE MATT AND KIM TOUR Feat. Matt and Kim” the show puts the couple in the forefront of a solid hour and a half of their classic songs.
Opening the show were North Carolina-based quartet Babe Haven, who describe themselves as “Appalachian riot punk.” Indeed the group’s abrasive and in-your-face sound of heavy guitar rock with talk-scream vocals definitely evokes Bikini Kill’s heyday with the lyrical sensibilities of Pansy Division or HIRS on tracks like “GIRLS TO THE FRONT.” While the band’s roots belong in Boone, singer Lillie Della Penna claims some South Florida history as she previously attended Florida International University, if only for one month. Guitarist Naomi Poesel’s shredding guitar riffs on tracks like “Jaws” speaks to the band’s not only technical skills but their awareness of intersectional politics as a queer, all-femme band with Poesel dedicating a track to the Asian members of the audience as a Thai musician. Closing with a cover of the politically-charged “Killing in the Name” by Rage Against the Machine, the band’s tight 30 minute set was definitely a left-field choice to open for a fairly apolitical band like Matt and Kim, but it shows the duo’s willingness to give a new act a big stage.
Matt and Kim
As clips of Gene Kelly tapping along to “Singin’ in the Rain” broadcast over four large LED TV screens interspersed with static, the audience’s excitement was palpable. In fact, barring most DIY and house shows, this may have been some of the most inebriated I’ve seen an audience who were definitely prepared for a party. Opening with “Block After Block” from their record “Sidewalks,” the energy started off on a mid-tempo note before launching into “Overexposed.”
With their background meeting at Pratt Institute as students (Matt majoring in film and Kim majoring in Illustration) there is a minimalist and formulaic approach the duo has to crafting a song. With Matt’s infectious hooks with sometimes intricate synth arrangements above Kim’s energetic, sometimes simplistic drum beats, the aim of each song is meant to get the audience as hype as possible. There’s something Warhol-ian about the way Matt and Kim’s songs work to serve as excitement-inducing earworms that itself feels like an artistic statement. The LED screen graphics also had a tinge of that art school energy with some lyrics but mostly non-sequitur phrases such as “THEY’RE COMING FOR YOU, BARBARA” illuminating the screens.
While the setlist was pretty evenly spread amongst their six records, including their debut that for many years was not on streaming due to its independent release, a Matt and Kim show is not merely a retrospective of greatest hits. Tossing in a cover of Harry Styles’ “As It Was,” a synth-rock track that fits so seamlessly in the band’s repertoire, the interspersed radio hits give the show a jukebox-style feel that’s also reinforced by an “Applause-O-Meter” determining whether the band would play “Lessons Learned” or “Good For Great.” To my chagrin, “Lessons Learned” won, but it did give another track from their hit sophomore record “Grand.” Speaking of that absolute banger of an album, the band closed their main show with “Daylight” an anthemic piece of millennial indie pop heard everywhere from “Dirty Grandpa” to “Community.” Their encore featured “Happy If You’re Happy” as the duo serenaded each other from the balcony and the commercial hit “Let’s Go.”
Although I don’t review merch often and frankly, artists have been undercut by merch cuts for too long now, I have to commend the band for having a system where vinyl records and art made by Kim Schifino (come on, Illustration BFA!) could be purchased at the top of the show or between bands and picked up at the end of the night. With the band’s penchant and encouragement of crowd surfing, trying to keep a record safe while carrying over folks surfing the audience is a critical mission.
With bands like the B-52s readying for retirement as America’s premiere party band, what really sets Matt and Kim apart is their near-acrobatics on-stage and absolute debauchery the couple commits on stage. From blow-up dolls and balloons surfing throughout the house, to Kim’s assault on the snare drum with two large silicone appendages, the show is a certified riot. While Schifino has had to slow down on backflips and standing on the audience’s hands due to a torn ACL a few years back, that did not stop the drummer from crowd surfing to the bar and carefully taking a full cup of ale all the way back to the stage without spilling a drop. The “Matt and Kim Present: THE MATT AND KIM TOUR Feat. Matt and Kim” is a high-energy, non-stop party coming to clubs across America. The duo of Matt and Kim have clearly taken their four year hiatus to perfect their stage show and still keep it totally organic.
Block After Block
Steal A Yellow Cab
Like I Used to Be
Good Ol’ Fashion Nightmare
As It Was (Harry Styles Cover)
It’s a Fact (Printed Stained)
Happy If You’re Happy
Make a Mess