Matt & Kim Bring the Love to Baltimore
Ramís Head Live, Baltimore, MD, USA, October 23rd, 2010
by Melanie Love
I’m pretty proud of my concert repertoire; in my six or so years as a music reviewer, I’ve seen Red Hot Chili Peppers and U2, stalked James Blunt (he was cool at the time, okay?!), and endured a horde of rednecks to see Seal at a county fair. But somehow, even the most major of those acts doesn’t quite compare to my night seeing Matt & Kim at Ram’s Head Live on Saturday, October 23rd. It’s funny, I’ve never heard a Matt & Kim song before that night, save for their big hit “Daylight,” which graced many a commercial last year – and for good reason: it encapsulates the infinitely peppiness that the duo of Matt Johnson and Kim Schifino do so well, without any doubt that every part of them is honestly overflowing with the same exuberance they radiate.
The floor and balconies of Ram’s Head were packed, not only with plaid-wearing hipsters as I expected, but a mix of Baltimoreans, moms with their daughters, and one awesome guy who kept dancing even after the show ended and the lights went up. Maybe I’ve just been surrounded by jaded Los Angeles crowds for too long, but our Bmore audience reciprocated every ounce of love, energy, and balloons emblazoned with Kim’s face that the band threw out at us. Kim even managed a stage dive, standing on the hands of a bunch of boisterous fans and raising her drumsticks triumphantly.
The best thing about this show was that you could tell from a mile away – or even from two balconies up – that Matt and Kim adore what they’re doing. A wide, infectious grin never left Kim’s face as she pounded the drums rabidly, and Matt was equally as charming, whether he was attempting gymnastic poses as he riffed on the keyboards or regaled us with banter in-between songs. Clearly, the duo are close (after much debate, we finally realized that they’re married – not just super close friends!), but you get as much of a sense of that from watching them play as you do from hearing them joke around with each other and tell stories about dressing up as Andy Warhol and Edie Sedgwick last Halloween; or how Kim was an amazing long distance runner in high school but gave up a scholarship to go to Brooklyn, where she met Matt, and the rest was history.
The actual hour-long performance was a blur of exuberance, dancing, and balloon volleyball. They raced through old favorites, such as “Frank” (dedicated to Kim’s dad) and “5K” from their 2006 eponymous debut, while hitting the spunky, carefree, raise-the-roof hits from Grand: “Good Ol’ Fashion Nightmare,” opener “I Wanna,” and, of course, “Daylight,” which closed off the show in the most epic of fashions, since every fan – including me, a newbie – was not only familiar with it but adored its verve and charm. Not only was their own material featured, but as they did at Virgin Mobile FreeFest, they did a shout-out to ODB (which the crowd reciprocated by holding up the Wu-Tang hand symbol) and covered Biz Markie’s hilarious “Just A Friend,” prompting the crowd to sing along the whole way through.
My only qualms with this amazing show (other than the fact that my feet are still hurting two days later) is that the openers were highly random and played for way too long: the first was a grunge act whose lyrics were virtually indecipherable, and the second – an up-and-coming Baltimore rap duo – was admittedly kind of charming, but by 10 o’clock, we were desperate for Matt & Kim. Also, this is the first show I’ve ever been to that the act hasn’t played an encore. My friends and I waited ‘til the lights went off and the crew started packing up the instruments, still convinced that Matt & Kim would make a return. I know they only have a few albums of material at their disposal, but we all would’ve loved to hear more than an hour of material, especially after waiting for two hours beforehand. The crowd adored every minute of their adorable wit and banter, grooving along and shouting the lyrics and melodies back at them – so it would’ve been nice to be rewarded. Although if they hadn’t left the stage, the love could’ve kept going all night.