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Concert Review | Matt and Kim electrify House of Blues

Published: Monday, November 26, 2012

Updated: Monday, November 26, 2012 07:11


Justin McCallum / The Tufts Daily

Indie duo Matt and Kim, pictured above at last year’s Cage Rage, delivered an energetic set filled with old and new songs.


No two Brooklyn hipsters love booty shaking, synth chords or good ol’ ‘90s hip-hop more than Matt Johnson and Kim Schifino. The high-octane duo Matt and Kim, who rocked the Carzo Cage last fall, brought down the Boston House of Blues on Nov. 16 at what the band announced as its first ever sold-out show at that venue.

Following up their most recent album release “Lightning” (2012), the indie rockers energized the crowd with an electric set of old classics and new hits. After gallantly striding on stage to a cacophony of the crowd’s cheers and rap music, the two got down to business bouncing up and down on their stools, banging out “Block After Block” on their keyboard and drum kit.

The euphoric energy and crowd involvement characteristic of a Matt and Kim concert kept coming, with a cover of “Jump On It” added on to their hit “Good Ol’ Fashion Nightmare.” The heavy bass in tracks like “Grand” and “It’s a Fact (Printed Stained)” were emblematic of the growing heavy hip-hop/dance influences in the duo’s songs.

Their new tracks showcased a somewhat over-edited feel. The many synth effects and dubstep-esque instrumentals were wildly different than the sounds a keyboard or drum could traditionally make. These tracks are a departure from the group’s DIY style and are a little affronting to long-time fans of their simplistically catchy choruses.

The duo amped up the technological aspects in other parts of the show too, as when they used video cameras placed on their instrument kits to live-stream their rather intense facial expressions during the performance. Additionally, Johnson would giddily hit a button that set off the sound and display of a giant explosion to end songs.

Matt and Kim’s reliance on more fabricated sounds and nonsensical lyrics got a little repetitive by mid-set. Still, their bigger singles like “Yea Yeah” and “Let’s Go” — weirdly placed right in the middle of the show as opposed to being used as the finale or encore — kept the crowd on its feet.

In addition to Matt and Kim’s amazing stage presence, the thumps of Schifino’s bass drum pushed the pulse of the crowd to a constant high. The bouncing masses of fans, ranging from teenagers to the middle-aged, never ceased dancing, moshing and singing throughout the hour-and-a-half show.

Although Johnson’s inappropriate references to his bandmate/girlfriend Schifino’s breasts were rather excessive, especially given the band’s shoutout to the drummer’s parents’ attendance in the audience, the two artists’ camaraderie and ability to psych up the crowd made even those unfamiliar with the songs have a good time.

Fans on the floor were met with challenges to crowd surf around the entire venue. They also had the opportunity to hold up Schifino while she danced out into the audience and blew up masses of balloons. One adoring fan surprised Matt as well, tossing a giant pair of panties onto the stage. He accepted them gratefully, but later threw them back into the crowd to uproarious applause.

Matt and Kim proved dynamic entertainers when they slowed down during somber tracks like “Turn this Boat Around.” They were then able to captivate the crowd with the first song they ever wrote, “Silver Tiles,” assisted by the crowd belting out the lyrics at the top of their lungs.

Matt and Kim aficionados who are more familiar with the duo’s tried and true hits may have been disappointed by the heavy emphasis on their newer, lesser known songs. They left out deep cuts like “Frank” and “Cutdown” and gave a throwaway performance of “Daylight” that was barely recognizable as the song that helped them make it big.

Nonetheless, Matt and Kim are entertainers at heart. The two lanky hipsters can fill up a stage with sound and energy that matches that of duos like The White Stripes. Their unique humor and charisma makes them stand out from their predecessors. It also lets them get away with displaying 80s aerobics videos and blending soul, funk, ska, indie, dance, rock and lots of sweaty Bostonians to make one great concert.

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