Vapid? No, mostly cute
Matt and Kim kicked off their set at Ace of Spades on Monday with Matt informing the audience that they’d start the show “fast and hard,” much in the way that “Kim likes it in the bedroom.” Then they jumped into a manic performance of their hit single “Hey Now,” and the crowd of roughly a thousand people went crazy.
And that was a good bellwether for what followed. Matt and Kim’s music is almost purely celebratory: It’s all about putting your hands in the air, shaking your ass, singing along and not thinking too much. That last part is important. Matt and Kim commonly express such basic sentiments as “Can you blame me for just being alive?” and package them with equally elementary instrumental hooks.
On paper, it seems vapid. In practice, it’s really fun.
Matt and Kim is a dance-pop duo out of Brooklyn, New York, made up of Matt Johnson (vocals, keyboards) and Kim Schifino (drums, booty dancing). Since forming in 2004, they’ve evolved from a cute DIY indie project to an enduring and chart-friendly festival act despite relatively modest musical talents. (Matt is not the world’s strongest singer.) They’re a party band, albeit one with a strongly devoted fan base and a host of recognizable tunes from various commercials, TV shows and video games.
They played Sacramento in support of their forthcoming sixth album, Almost Everyday, due out in May. Framed by lights, lasers, balloons and confetti, the duo went plum crazy for about an hour and a half. Throughout the set, Kim regularly left her drum kit to twerk her tail feather and tell everyone about the vastness of her, uh, lady region. Meanwhile, Matt did handstands on his keyboard and, at one point, encouraged collisions in the tightly packed crowd.
“I want you to run into each other for our enjoyment,” he said.
Sonically, everything sounded fat. They made heavy use of synthetic horns found in so much EDM these days and employed the sort of bass that vibrates your sternum. In addition to a slew of original hits, they playfully spliced in a keyboard version of the fret-tapping intro to AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck,” as well as a brief cover of Rihanna’s “Umberella” and the iconic synthesizer intro to Van Halen’s “Jump.”
For me, the highlight of the night came when Kim jumped onto the keyboards and, with her feet dangling about six inches above the floor, attempted a rendition of “I See Ya”—a rare slow and somber number off the duo’s 2015 album, Day Glow. Matt warned that they’d performed the song only a few times before, and that his singing “might sound like Fergie at the [NBA] All Star Game.” They indeed proved to be a little shaky, mostly because Kim can hardly play keyboards. Matt kept shooting her disapproving looks when she hit bum notes. It was—how do you say? Ah, yes. Adorable.
The song’s crescendo is Matt singing, “I really miss you / I really do.” And despite the lullaby-level of simplicity, it somehow hit hard emotionally. Maybe there’s power in the basics. Or maybe I’m thinking too much.