"Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life." Despite the clichéd nature of this Confucius quote, it’s undeniably true. The hard part is, of course, finding that perfect job. Two folk who have apparently discovered the key to career happiness are Brooklyn’s dance-punk duo, Matt & Kim. You have never seen an artist so happy, excited and generally ecstatic on stage – the titular Matt and Kim either love their job to the point of obsession, or were under the influence of some potent psychoactive drug. And after Matt Johnson (QRO interview) climbed up the lighting rig and balanced on top of the stage, and Kim Schifino (QRO interview) yelled incomprehensible profanity at the audience at Majestic Theater in Madison, WI on September 21st, it seemed the latter was the more probable explanation.
The night began at 7:30, with a special exclusive listening of Matt & Kim’s newest album, Sidewalks. Due out on November 2nd (QRO Upcoming Releases), Sidewalks proved to be a more mature and musically complex album. With glossy production and radio-ready synth lines, Matt & Kim’s third record is definitely a step in a new direction for the duo – though not necessarily a direction their loyal and rowdy fans would be willing to go.
Then one hour later, the concert began.
Madison local F. Stokes proved he could hold his own, with a strong and impassioned rap/hip hop/poetry set, that gave the rowdy and impatient crowd something to cheer for. "I’m gonna go balls out tonight," Stokes said, and he was true to his word – honest, fierce, soulful and emotionally resonant, F. Stokes is definitely making an impressionable mark on today’s hip hop scene. But because one opener is simply never enough, and the audience was in an especially patient and in an amiable mood, The So So Glos entered stage left, and proceeded to play to a rather unenthused crowd. Despite a solid and upbeat set, the Majestic crowd simply didn’t respond, and after numerous efforts in trying to install some wave of vigour, efforts that spawned no result, fellow Brooklyn-ites The So So Glos exited the stage clearly disappointed with the single-minded audience.
One thought was going through all heads at that point. One thought, three words: Matt. And. Kim. Against a meticulous backdrop of silver foil and some of the most impressive lighting seen in a long time, the two ran out and the theatre exploded.
There are few words that aptly describe a Matt and Kim performance. Teeming with frenetic energy and bursting to the seams with raw vigour, a gig with the Brooklyn duo is not for the fainthearted. In short, a Matt and Kim show is like an unguided missile – erratic, dangerous and liable to blow up at any minute.
Schifino, like Meg White but on speed, banged and wailed on her drums through the über-energy set. She smiled and laughed through the entire show, swinging her hair as much as she swung her drumsticks.
"Good Ol’ Fashion Nightmare" caused the crowd to go into hysterics, and caused singer/keyboardist Johnson to perform his signature handplant-on-keyboard-stool maneuver: which of course pushed the energy levels up even more.
"5K" and "Lessons Learned" were highlights, and involved crowd-surfing, butt-bouncing and Schifino walking on the audiences hands – all things that have come to be synonymous with a Matt and Kim show. The lights were epic: New York-club-worthy, and the Majestic Theater was small enough to provide the intimacy that comes from a small venue, but large enough to give sitting room for all those who wanted to leave the theater not completely drenched in sweat and beer.
And like all high-passion and joyous events, it was ephemeral: with a mere two records, each well under thirty minutes long, Matt and Kim flew through their songbook at breakneck speed. Predictably they closed with "Daylight" – an indie anthem that had Johnson and the audience’s voice merge symbiotically, Schifino’s drumming providing the necessary backbone, and infectious synths that caused the songs to soar heavenward.
Yeah it was that good.
After the last chords rang out, Johnson promised they would be back soon. And Schifino’s look of pure ecstasy on her face confirmed that fact. Judging by the exhaustion and elation from the audience, Matt and Kim will surely have another sold-out crowd when they return.