WARNING: this review is rated "NC-17" and is not suitable for children, soccer moms, Labrador retriever puppies, and 85 percent of decent God-fearing Americans.
Matt Johnson, the first half of Brooklyn uber-duo Matt a Kim, doesn't just lace his onstage banter with F-bombs - he launches an assault on the English language with a barrage of F-bombs, F-landmines, and F-AK-47s, perhaps to compensate for looking like an overgrown choirboy. Kim Schifino, the other half of this insanely infectious partnership, complements the stage show with some of the dirtiest banter we’ve heard outside of the political debates. If you like your music reviews clean and are uncomfortable with mentions of condoms, pantslessness, and anal kegels, perhaps you should click over now and go see what the LOL Cats are up to. They’re so cavorty.
If you’re still with us, gird your loins and understand that there is no way to write a review of a Matt & Kim show that is one scintilla as entertaining as an actual Matt & Kim show. The 9:30 Club was packed -- there is sold out, and then there is SOLD THE FUCK OUT, but when you’re crammed into a raucous crowd filled with as much joy as was radiating out of every single pore down there last Tuesday, it works out just fine that every last ticket-holder showed up. Matt and Kim, the reigning prom king and queen of Indie Rock High School, barreled onstage with Matt waving a huge towel and Kim in a fluorescent yellow tank top that showed off her arms and her ink, while the crowd chanted “Matt and Kim, Matt and Kim” at the top of their lungs. It was like watching an encore erupt before the band even played a single note. Some of that energy should be laid at the feet of literal warm-up act Oberhofer, but much of it is a testament to how much this town loves some MandK.
Just before they started thrashing the fuck out of “Block After Block,” from 2009’s Sidewalks, Matt yelled “DC, why are you so good to us? Two sold out shows, wow!” Then he and Kim blew the motherfucking doors off the place from the beginning to the end of the show. They followed “Block” with “Tonight” off their new album Lightning - just released on October 2 - after a brief interlude wherein Matt made Kim stand on her drum kit to show off her super-toned ass. A wind machine blew non-stop from the front of the stage, and it became apparent after 10 minutes how necessary the extra circulation was - Kim beat the fuck out of those drums when she wasn’t jumping up and down, walking on top of the audience, or standing on something shouting lyrics and banging drumsticks together, and Matt spent as much time leaping off his stool as he did perched on it in front of his stacks of keyboards.
In case we weren’t having enough of a party in the audience, Matt threw uninflated balloons at us, highlighting the do-it-yourself attitude for which the band is famous - if you wanted a fucking balloon riot of a song, you’d better get to blowing up some fucking balloons. Meanwhile Kim continued her manic thrashing on stage and Matt used a mouth cannon to spew confetti all over the place, then they went into “It’s Alright,” their self-proclaimed favorite song from the new album. You’ve got to be one grumpy-assed sumbitch if you don't feel alright throughout every note of it - it’s like mainlining oxygen. Matt told us all, “I want you to get so weird you embarrass yourself,” and we seriously tried our best. One guy wearing a squid hat sailed atop us all, despite a seeming moratorium on crowd-surfing for the night, and Kim commented that he looked like a condom with eyes - she then delivered a quick monologue that would break the internet if we print it, but suffice to say it was a combination of “fuck,” “hard,” “D.C.,” and “you’ll want to see where you’re going,” and by the time she was done, everyone was jumping straight up and down and screaming.
After “Alright” M&K dipped back to their debut album for “Grand,” and Kim again alternated between playing the drums and standing on top of them. The song morphed into “Jump On It,” an oversample of the old Sugarhill Gang song, and then bled into “Good Old Fashioned Nightmare,” which in turn morphed into Pitbull’s cover of “We No Speak Americano” - the show spazzed between clips and samples layered over the actual things being played by the band, with both Kim and Matt taking turns coming to the front of the stage to yell funny shit at the audience, curse, to blow more confetti on us all, or just to dance. After getting Kim to dance to the Americano clip, Matt turned his attention to the audience, shouting “I’m giving you permission to dance like fucking assholes,” but the lights must have been in his eyes because we’d been doing that since the first second.
Matt yelled to sing along with "Daylight,” and you’ve heard it before on commercials and TV and splashed all over every indie radio station on the internet -- you may even be sick unto death of it, but when they start up you can’t help but shout the lyrics and jump up and down all over again. YOU CANNOT FUCKING HELP IT. Kim then decided she was going to walk straight into the crowd -- so she walked ON TOP of the crowd - and confetti was again blown all over the damn place. Kim levitated back to the stage and leapt behind drums for “Let’s Go,” again from Lightning. The band managed to work in a lot of songs from first three albums with about six off their new effort, and it’s too bad that audience members haven’t had enough time to get their heads around the new songs - on anthemic numbers like “Now,” everyone tried their best, but the shout-alongs were missing because we’re busy and haven’t had time to memorize the lyrics to that one yet since it’d only been out for a week - given the quality of the songs on Lightning and the effort everyone put in to trying to keep up, it’s evident that the next time these two roll through that will all be corrected.
If you’re not familiar with a Matt & Kim show, you may be surprised by the amount of cursing that goes on in between every single song - M&K’s music is sparkling, high-energy radio-friendly indie pop, and the lyrics contain no trace of the burlesque underbelly of these two - but it makes for an amazingly entertaining night out. Matt used the word "fuck" in so many literary devices he made Scarface sound like Gidget. Starting the encore, Kim explained her workout routine to get in shape for the tour, which includes running, biking, kegels, yoga, ass kegels, and an admonition that if you do these things your man will be happy. She’s said before that most of Lightning was recorded without pants, and it’s a wonder we all kept ours on for the show.
As they closed the night with “Good for Great,” the audience shouted and swayed along with “we sing along, but the notes are wrong,” then Matt and Kim played a Kanye West clip, danced a bit more with the audience, threw more drumsticks, and wandered off stage like they came on - arms in the air, elated smiles on their faces. Their tour t-shirts were on full display at the merch table as we tripped out of the 9:30, printed with a single lyric from "Now" -- “I know that things aren't perfect/So let's make tonight worth it." You got it, kids.