Vanity Project

fanzine archive and photo blog

Matt & Kim @ Highbury Garage

Matt & Kim.
Highbury Garage. 23mar11.

Matt Johnson & Kim Schifino first sprung out of the Brooklyn scene in 2004 and it’s hard to imagine that they’ve changed much in the past seven years. After all, the synth playing never sweeps into show-pony virtuosity, the singing is not rich with variation and if Kim is drumming on a track, it is likely to fire out like a buffalo stampede.

Incidentally, if Kim is NOT playing on a track, she will most likely be found stood atop her drums with arms raised, or stepping out onto the supportive hands of the crowd to dance above their heads. While doing this, and even when playing her instrument, an extreme grin never leaves her face, as though the corners of her mouth have been introduced to her cheekbones by way of a staple-gun.

Clearly Matt & Kim learned their trade playing loft parties and front rooms but their skill comes in translating that experience to larger settings. I have seen them twice now, here in a sold out 650 capacity room, and in front of thousands on the Vice stage at Primavera Sound last May. On both occasions, a sizeable body of onlookers have responded like a drunk teen bouncing over the heads of their friends in their parents’ garage.

The Principle of the Conservation of Energy tells us that energy can never be created or destroyed, only changed from one form to another. In keeping with this principle, Matt, Kim and their audience rebound the revving oomph between each other; the room effervescing to a critical mass. At which point the balloons are released. Not from the ceiling, no – that would be a bit too glitzy showbiz – instead, balloons are thrown into the crowd to be inflated individually and later released on cue.

This is not to say that Matt & Kim don’t use that old showbiz trick of making the audience feel as though they are more involved than any prior audience – and are seeing something different, more intense, than anything the band has hitherto delivered. They claim their last visit to London, at the tiny Old Blue Last, was their sweatiest show. They reference it often, as though the perspiration levels are on a Blue Peter totaliser, until Kim announces after a while that a new bar has been set.

Canard it may be, yet when Matt exclaims “it’s never been like this” several times late in the set in response to the wild enthusiasm of the crowd, he does appear genuinely moved and overcome by delight. “This makes us realise we have to come here more often” he says, at which point the room registers its clear interest in keeping in closer touch.

Photo by wumpie woo (taken 2009)

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March 27, 2011 - Posted by | new reviews |

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