Wednesday night is party night with Matt & Kim
The twentysomething Brooklyn couple and music duo Matt and Kim brought their lively, pop-electronic music to Portland this past Wednesday, promoting their new album Sidewalks.
While most students on the Hill spent their Wednesday nights with their eyes glued to a computer screen or with their minds lost in the pages of books, my friend and I decided to run off to Portland and see Matt and Kim perform at Port City Music Hall.
The band’s name says it all: Matt (Johnson) and Kim (Schifino) are just two twentysomethings making simplistic, electric music with each other—just doing what they love. So when we heard that the dance-punk couple was leaving their base in Brooklyn to promote the release of their new album, Sidewalks, we knew that we had to see them for ourselves.
We felt lucky as we walked the cold streets of Portland towards the Music Hall. A large crowd stood waiting in line outside, and we were grateful to have reserved tickets. Inside, the venue was relatively small and had a swanky club feel to it. We weren’t surprised to find a large group of people crowding around a stage in anticipation.
Then the lights dimmed.
The opening act was Fletcher C. Johnson—Matt’s brother—whose vocals sounded nostalgic and very reminiscent of the indie-rock band, Dr. Dog. The crowd nodded along with the funky vibrations and the raspy echoes of Johnson’s voice before the stage was handed over to Javelin, a hype-ridden electronic band, also based in Brooklyn.
Javelin set the pace for the night. People bobbed their heads to the beat and most danced to fresh, electric-sounding covers of ’80s songs and hip-hop beats. People began to dance wildly to the layered, sparkly electronic tunes, and a happy sheen of sweat developed on people’s moving foreheads.
Javelin and Fletcher C. Johnson provided the perfect precursor for Matt and Kim who whirled on to the stage, jumping on their drums to the sounds of cheers before they started to play. The atmosphere was vibrant: there was sticky sweat everywhere, so many gyrating hips and many happy faces. The energy of the room was unparalleled.
Some of the best songs were Matt and Kim classics: “Lessons Learned,” “5k,” and “Good ‘Ol Fashioned Nightmare” had fans bouncing on their toes and singing along.
About half way through the show, Matt and Kim burst open a bag of balloons and told the audience, “Let’s make Wednesday night the new Friday night!” It was important to the band that everyone was a part of the music.
One audience member actually climbed onto the stage gathering balloons, and while security tried to stop her, Matt encouraged her: “No, no—she’s helping us. Let her keep going!” he said with a wide grin. Flashing square lights and prom-like silver streamers hung behind the duo, and the club continued on with its birthday party feel.
Every now and then Kim would stand on top of her drum and Matt would pounce on the stool behind his keyboards. They performed with us, not to us. Yet the most endearing thing of all was the way Kim smiled infectiously as she slammed against the drums, and the way Matt spoke to the audience like a five-year-old hopped up on Laffy Taffies. They looked at each other often while they sang and you could see how transcendent it must feel to make music together, especially with someone you care about.
Yet the highlight of the show was the final song, “Daylight,” which the audience had waited for patiently. Matt teased listeners with a false intro and a devious smile, but once he gave in, the room glowed. People jumped off the ground and all of the tangled bodies in the crowd moved like a collage, balloons bouncing off their fingertips.
When the song came to an end, we realized that we had to leave the liveliness of the room behind and journey back to the Hill. As we drove back to Waterville in the black morning, we talked about Matt and Kim, their intense connection with each other, and how we wished more poetic things happened in our lives.
As we pulled up Mayflower Hill Drive, we saw a pack of deer standing still in the cold dew grass outside Foss dining hall. They stared at us with a surreal and haunting kind of gaze. They didn’t make a noise, but the happy sounds of Matt and Kim still rang in our ears.