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Better Than: Seeing Matt & Kim in any other city.
A fine line separates a regular live show from a searing explosion of fiery red sparks that emancipate themselves from every beat, chord, or sound a musician produces, making an entire room feel like it’s about to cave in on itself at any given moment.
Matt & Kim not only cross that line, but they fist bump the flames in the process.
When drummer Kim Schifino shouts from atop her drum set “go big or go home, and we’re fucking home” with the same vicious ear-to-ear grin she seemed incapable of wiping off for the entirety of the show, you understand why an explosion had to occur. For Schifino and her partner Matt Johnson (vocals and keyboards), this was more than just a sold-out Terminal 5 show; it was a triumphant return to their hometown.
After a fun set from fellow Brooklynites Oberhofer, Matt & Kim stormed onto the stage with a rambunctious version of “Block After Block,” the short inhale of an opener from their third album Sidewalks. In the background, a looping gif-like video of fireworks felt like a premature celebration to a show that had just begun, but as the night progressed, the undeniable truth behind the duo just being happy to be home felt like a very real and justified cause for early commemoration of this particular Thursday night.
Every song felt sped up, but maybe that was just the atmosphere of the show. Matt’s brutally fast keyboard playing and Kim’s rapid, animalistic drum beats were delivered and received with signature back-and-forth-back-and-forth intensity. Their uptempo electropop gave the illusion of a race, with slowed-down songs appearing to let the audience take a breath.
What makes Matt & Kim such a refreshing live show, of course, is more than just the energy the duo bring. Beyond the adrenaline rush is a sense of humor and a series of relevant, cleverly timed pop culture jokes and references that sneak their way into the set at unexpected moments. Between a brief mention of eating bath salts, mash-ups of their singles with past Top 40 gems (“Cameras” with Ludacris’ “Move Bitch” and “Good Ol’ Fashion Nightmare” with Kriss Kross’ “Jump”), and a post-encore good-bye twerk featuring Kanye West’s “Mercy,” it felt like a massive playdate at Matt & Kim’s house that we were all invited to just so they can share their favorite toys.
When they beg the audience to sing along to “Lessons Learned,” the final song before the encore, lyrics like “thinking about tomorrow won’t change how I feel today” followed up by an earnest thank you speech from Matt, wrapped up the show like a warm farewell at the end of a reunion with a friend who has been away from home for far too long.
Critical Bias: Weirdo pop culture references always win me over.
Overheard: “They’re playing with Passion Pit? Is that who’s opening?” – someone who clearly misunderstood the premature advertisement for the February Madison Square Garden date where Matt & Kim will be opening for Passion Pit.
Random Notebook Dump: Guy who crowdsurfed a Budweiser across the entirety of the main floor to Kim, per her request: #hero
After being reminded by a friend after working on a project for her fashion blog, I realized how long it’s been since I’ve posted the content I’ve created on here. Over the course of the holiday weekend, I’ll be updating this blog with my writing, mostly published, that I’ve done this semester.
Better Than: Being outside in all that snow.
Ironic is the only way to describe a situation where a band whose most recent album is named Diluvia has a show postponed while the city began its own post-diluvia recovery efforts. Freelance Whales, however, more than made up for the canceled date from last Thursday by playing a gorgeous show to a receptive, enthusiastic crowd at Webster Hall last night — in the middle of a Nor’easter.
But the seasons are something the band embraces, with weather themes making appearances in album titles (their first album is aptly called Weathervanes) and dripping throughout the lyrics, like the icy and haunting “Winter Seeds.” It seems only fitting that this particular band would have to conquer nature in its physical form, and Freelance Whales came prepared to fight.
After energetic performances from openers Conveyor and Geographer, “Aeolus,” the first track off of Diluvia, began a strong set list well-versed in balancing old, familiar tracks with the new while breathing life into a venue that wasn’t much warmer inside than it had been outside. Similar to the skill displayed on their albums, Freelance Whales is tactful in seamlessly connecting one song into the next to create a fluid, ethereal sound. When “Land Features” began, it was difficult to tell when “Aeolus” had discretely ended.
Jumping between tracks from the first and second album, the band proved how well all of their music meshes together. While the newest album shows musical growth, it stays rooted in the ambient dreaminess of their debut. The musicians mesh in a similar way. In between songs, the bandmates would switch spots and instruments like the well-oiled machine they are as a whole. Yet there is nothing mechanical about their performance; there’s a sense of friendliness and warmth that the band seems to exude when they’re on stage, and the audience’s energy proved that the feelings are mutual.
While tracks like “Spitting Image,” “Hannah,” and “Locked Out” were frantic bursts of dance-y air-pop, the most memorable moments throughout the concert came through during the more haunting pieces. Eery, almost stripped down songs that make full use of intermingling vocals by the band members while lead singer Judah Dadone lights the way were the backbone of their set. “Broken Horse” and “DNA Bank,” both during the encore and separated by the very fun “Starring,” are slowed down, whimsical gems that prove just how fantastic these musicians are.
As they request to be told in the song “Generator (Second Floor),” Freelance Whales are equal parts “stunning and cadaverous.” Their music, while filled to the brim by a unique selection of instruments and layered vocals, create a singular thread as fluid as the transitions between tracks and their movements on stage give an almost skeletal feel. In the end, the airiness of their sound never feels empty, and that’s what makes Freelance Whales absolutely stunning.
Critical Bias: The band’s name may or may not have been the inspiration for my Halloween costume…
Overheard: “Are you on iTunes?!” – inquired by a most likely inebriated audience member during the set for openers Geographer
Random Notebook Dump: Doris Cellar should sing lead on more songs and be my personal stylist.
Generator (Second Floor)
Generator (First Floor)
Dig Into Waves
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by Brittany Spanos
“Just step into your moment. That’s what we’re trying to do, I guess.”
Uttered just prior to a final performance of Antony and the Johnsons’ “Turning” concert/performance, this sound advice is what Antony Hegarty gives the thirteen women who model on his stage. The counsel seems trite, however, after an hour of these artists baring souls, bodies and whatever else they have to offer in desire for liberation. Stepping into their moments seems to be what they’re all best at.
But maybe what these women need is reassurance. Throughout the documentary “Turning,” a collaboration between the band and filmmaker Charles Atlas, the models are without names and are defined solely by the intimate, personal stories they each emotionally reveal on camera. A poignancy is made evident as specific tales are paired with defining songs; performance shots of Antony along with the women displaying proudly the…
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