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