Breaking The Mold

If you ever showed a photo of Matt and Kim to your parents, they would probably think that they are “cute.”  And who wouldn’t?  When you see pictures of the pair, they are always beaming with joy.  Their songs are sweet, concise and easy on the ears.  Their melodies are the type you can hum in the shower every morning.  You would think the same type of bright and bubbly persona would come through in their performances. But in reality, it’s the ?complete opposite.

A typical Matt and Kim performance is often filled with obscenities, and when they play fast, they expect their audience to join them. They prefer to stand on their stools, yell at the top of their lungs, scale the stage and run around the set relentlessly, all to the awe and ?amazement of their fans.

On Oct. 26 and 27 the couple had their homecoming shows in New York City.  It was their first club show in two years, but there was more to be nervous about.

“We feel a lot of pressure,” said Matt Johnson, the “Matt” of Matt and Kim’s namesake, when asked about returning home in an interview with the Inferno.  

“All of your family and friends are there and you really don’t want to mess up, but we try to make it fun.”

Brooklyn’s king and queen of punk blitzed onto the stage of Manhattan’s Webster Hall with ?power and conviction to play the second sellout of their two-night stand in the ?historic venue.  

“New York was obviously the first place where we had really crazy shows so to come back and play Webster is an honor for us,” said Johnson.

From the opening drum beat of “I Wanna,” the band refused to stop. They played with ferocious intensity that made skaters, hipsters and teenagers alike go into a complete rage. Yet the two performing still managed to keep a grin on their face.

Tearing through their brief set list in under two hours, Matt and Kim only took breaks to dive into the crowd. Kim even honored Iggy Pop by being lifted up by the her two feet while dancing victoriously.

They played the hits “Yeah Yeah” and “Lessons Learned,” the fan ?favorites “Good Ol’ Fashioned Nightmare” and “5K,” along with some covers, “Shimmy,

Shimmy Ya” by ODB and “Just a Friend” by Biz Markie. By the last song, the soldout crowd and the couple were completely spent. But when Johnson played the opening lick of “Daylight,” the building erupted into mass hysteria, completely obliterating the negative connotation that New York crowds are stuffy and too cool to dance.

Matt first met Kim Schifino at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn during 2002 where the two dated for a couple of years before the inception of the group.  

The band was one of the first products of the Brooklyn music scene along with MGMT, Vampire Weekend and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. They learned their stage chops in the art galleries of Williamsburg, the sweaty basements of friends and sometimes going as far as playing gigs lit only by candle light.  They would do anything to play in front of people.

Matt and Kim are on the road supporting their latest record ?Sidewalks, an album that is very hip-hop influenced, as opposed to their previous two efforts which were labeled as dance-punk.  

Their second album, Grand, which cracked the Billboard charts, was a “do it yourself” album due to its recording sessions in the basement of Johnson’s parents. The two  even admitted they wanted to sound as homemade and unprofessional as possible. Fans around the Brooklyn area grew accustomed to their unique sound.

There is no doubt that the two are progressing, and Sidewalks is perfect evidence of that.  As Johnson simply puts it, “Rock music has gotten too generic over the past 50 years. We listened to a lot of top 40 hip-hop when we were recording and it definitely comes through on this album.”  

Sidewalks may not settle well with the typical indie-rock purist, but Matt and Kim are branching out and could reach new levels that the genre has never seen before.