October 25, 2007

All smiles for Matt & Kim at Risley

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If I had to choose one word to sum up Matt & Kim’s show at Risley Hall, it would probably be “exuberant.” With just a keyboard and a drum kit, the unimposing Brooklyn duo rocked their way through their (relatively small) repertoire of upbeat pop-punk jingles. The low-key concert was a treat, and a reminder that sometimes all you need to make good music is a little heart.
That’s a good thing, because Matt & Kim are minimalists in just about everything but attitude. Deciding to get their groove on a few years ago, the two 20-somethings picked up their instruments for the first time and quickly began pounding out catchy little ditties. In no time, the low-fi video for their single “Yea, Yeah” rocketed the band to stardom on YouTube, and their appearance at this summer’s Lollapalooza secured their arrival on the scene.
The first opener for Matt & Kim at Risley was Titus Andronicus, another rising indie band who also exhibited a whole lot of passion — albeit more in the area of power-chord barrages and slightly screamy punk. Next was the Midnight Prayers, a talented but rather standard rock outfit headed by Matt’s brother Fletcher. By the time the headliners came up, the audience had already been treated to most the music it was going to hear, due to the limited catalog of Matt & Kim tunes. Indeed, Matt told the audience at Risley that he and Kim were playing their longest set ever — a full 37 minutes! I guess there’s only so much material you can get our of their particular brand of slightly-punky dance-pop. The duo have hit upon a winning style, but they’re going to have to develop their sound a bit and start playing a few more songs if they want to outlast their role as Web Phenoms.
Once their turn had come, Matt & Kim simply sat across from each other and did their thing. Matt manned the keyboard, filling out Kim’s rhythm section with his left hand and laying over simple little melodies with his right. His vocals were solid, if a little boring. The Meg White to Matt’s Jack, Kim played well also, delivering catchy dance beats while showing off her muscular biceps. Nothing about their performance shined particularly by itself — no insane technical virtuosity or clever songwriting here — but the sum of the various parts, and the laid-back feeling behind it all, made the set extremely pleasant to listen to.
Songs that stuck out were an untitled tune that Matt described as one of their first ever written and “Lightspeed,” one of their few slow, reflective songs.
Again, though, what it all comes down to with Matt & Kim is their positive style. The best moment of the show was when the wait for “Yea, Yeah” ended and Matt invited the audience to surround their little set-up and dance for the rest of the night. There he sat, surrounded by fans, pointing his finger in the air, and wearing a huge smile.