The duo brimmed with positive sentiments and ear-to-ear grins
When watching Matt Johnson and Kim Schifino perform, you've got to wonder how they don't get cramps from smiling. Perhaps there's a miracle product for this ailment on some late-night infomercial, but if there is, it's unlikely the peppy synthpop duo, who perform as Matt and Kim, has seen it.
It's more likely they've been chasing squirrels around Prospect Park in their home borough of Brooklyn, N.Y. or learning how to Double Dutch in Harlem until the wee hours of the morning. When they're not putting on the touring house party that is their live show, that is. In other words, they've got a lot of energy to spare -- and some really toned facial muscles.
Friday night's show at the Majestic was no exception as the duo brimmed with positive sentiments and ear-to-ear grins, even during "Lessons Learned," the deepest song in their two-album history.
Kicking off the party with a cut from one of the most danceworthy songs around, Sir Mix-a-Lot's "Jump On It," the pair proved they were out to transform their fans' appreciation for hyperactive drumbeats and alphabet-soup lyrics into out-and-out obsession.
Many concertgoers had reached the point of fanaticism before the first song, however. Whether this was due to alcohol, an impending outbreak of swine flu or simply being enamored with the band was impossible to determine, but it's safe to say Matt and Kim's true believers came out in droves: The house was packed, peppered with sweaty I-heart-NY t-shirts and dudes in keffiyeh-style scarves. Outing someone as a hipster in the bathroom was likely to incite a brawl, even though this label was probably close to the truth.
Though Matt and Kim certainly adopt the look of Brooklyn hipsters (one brand of them, anyway), there's something different, even refreshing, about their attitude. They've used many of the same pop culture references and D.I.Y. methods as other cool kids to build their career, but they've toned down the irony and turned up the charm in doing so.
And the building blocks of this charm -- Schifino's humongous, everpresent grin and Johnson's heartfelt stories and words of encouragement for the audience -- seem genuine. It's a far cry from the eye-rolling, namedropping, trust fund-spending branch of the subculture, which is a lot harder to love.
Johnson actually clutched his heart during several songs, including "I'll Take Us Home" and an ecstatic rendition of "Silver Tiles," shouting out the lyrics "And all our hopes / And all our friends / Through parking lots I found / This B I got in school." Meanwhile, Schifino adopted the happy, faux-stunned look of a kindergarten teacher as she pummeled the drums on "Lightspeed." Two video screens at the back of the stage interspersed images of her face with footage of a woman blowing a kiss from her hand. As Johnson synthed up the chorus from Badger football favorite "Rock and Roll Part 2 (The Hey Song)," black Oreo cookies danced across a neon-yellow screen. Unlike a punk show, where fans pump their fists in solidarity, this crowd waved hundreds of open hands at the stage, like a class of students who all thought they knew the answer.
The answer, apparently, was crowdsurfing.
"Keep him in the air!" Johnson yelled during one of many episodes, then tried to get the crowd to chill out with "Lessons Learned" after a handful of concertgoers stormed the stage. Perhaps the crowd had eaten too many Pixy Stix to tolerate a slower tune, or perhaps the mental image of Schifino and Johnson stripping down to their birthday suits in the video for the song proved too stimulating. Either way, Johnson didn't try to get semi-serious until near the end of the show, when he asked fans to pause in rememberance of Sept. 11, 2001. He didn't say much about the tragedy other than reminding fans to celebrate being alive, which incited a group chant of "USA, USA" that probably reflected good intentions but was creepy nonetheless.
A bit later, after Schifino had tried her hand at crowd surfing, Johnson requested a dimming of the lights as he announced in a gloom-and-doom voice that "this summer's not over 'til we say it's over." True to his promise, they wrapped up the show -- and the summer concert season -- with two of their biggest hits ("Yea Yeah" and "Daylight") as more bodies floated across the sea of smiling faces and waving hands.