With Matt & Kim, you know what you’re in for: dancing, craziness, and fun. It’s fact (printed stain!) that that’s the type of show the duo puts on and that’s how it will be no matter what. When I saw the band 18 months ago in April 2009 in a tiny room at Goucher College, I was blown away by the energy and chaos present in the live show. When I observed them at FreeFest from the side while waiting for Pavement, I was amazed at how the live show translated over to the festival environment.
And Saturday night, I saw and experienced how the band can transform a stark, antiseptic venue like Rams Head Live! into something awesome.
A long line greeted me as I arrived, but when I finally got onto the floor, I found myself in the middle, a decent ways back, but still close enough to enjoy and be among the dancing. Immediately I noticed that the crowd was mostly young high schoolers and tweens, which was expected.
But that crowd dynamic threw an interesting monkey wrench into the show. Originally scheduled opener Donnis, who I interviewed for The Diamondback, was skipping out on the show to play the Fool’s Gold showcase as part of Pitchfork’s #Offline Festival in Brooklyn (yes, the one Kanye showed up at), leaving Matt & Kim without an opener until I found out on Thursday that Baltimore’s own Sick Weapons and Rapdragons were going to open. I saw Sick Weapons open for Double Dagger in DC at Comet Ping Pong at the beginning of September and enjoyed their brand of punk rock that reminded me a little of Be Your Own Pet. I’ll admit, I was excited. There’s no better feeling than seeing Baltimore bands in Baltimore, and seeing Nolan from Double Dagger walking around the venue before increased this anticipation.
But then again, the Baltimore bands I’d seen in Baltimore didn’t have a crowd of tweens watching. And my excitement didn’t translate to the rest of the crowd.
I don’t want to speak for bands, but Sick Weapons, especially lead singer Ellie Beziat, seemed a little nervous to be playing such a big venue. Beziat performed the majority of the set with a magically refilling beer in her hand.
To say that the band got a lukewarm reception would be an exaggeration. The applause was measured and polite, and my yell of “Yeah Beach House!” in reference to Beziat’s banter at Comet Ping Pong was received with glowers and a “ba-dum-ch” from the drumset. As the band launched it their set, the majority of the crowd stood stockstill with teenage girls exchanging awkward glances and stifling giggles of disbelief, along with more weird glances directed at me because I was dancing. Hey, I paid $17. I want to enjoy myself.
Really, I’m surprised that a swarm of parents didn’t descend from the bar and the balcony to take their kids away.
But overall, Sick Weapons performed a strong set, although there were some feedback issues and Beziat’s vocals were too low in the mix. But maybe that’s for the best, with all the obviously virgin ears that were around me.
Rapdragons took the stage next to a warmer reception, but even a cold reception would have been warmer than what Sick Weapons received. The crowd connected with Rapdragons more, but there was still not the type of activity you’d get at Ottobar.
The duo had great beats behind their rapid-fire lyrics, providing for great dance music. But then again, no one was really dancing. The highlight of the set came with the performance of “Big Dreamers,” which featured a sample of Future Islands’ “Little Dreamer” and a song that sampled Beach House. Plus, Rapdragons name-dropped Ponytail and asked the crowd if they’d heard of them. Of course, no one had and my yell of recognition was again met with weird glances. Plus the biddie and the bro in front of me had some of the worst concert etiquette I’d ever experienced in my life, but that’s a totally different story.
If I really wanted to, and I honestly do want to, I could go on a rant about how this was one of the worst crowds I’d ever been a part of, but at the same time, it’s moot. People were there to see Matt & Kim. Most of them will never hear from Sick Weapons or Rapdragons again, along with the multitude of other good Baltimore bands out there. They can keep heralding All Time Low as the greatest Baltimore band.
But then it was finally the time everyone had been impatiently waiting for: Matt & Kim. I really don’t know what to say about the performance. It was vintage Matt & Kim. Running around, jumping up and down, climbing on things, the whole nine yards. The songs were tight and easy to sing along to, and the covers in between were fun as well.
The dancing was intense and exhausting and nonstop, and everyone there was into it. The duo laid down great renditions of songs like “5K” and “Lessons Learned,” along with one of my personal favorites, “I’ll Take Us Home.”
My biggest disappointment of the show was that none of the songs off the upcoming release Sidewalks were performed. Yes, they played the album over the house PA before the show and it was extremely danceable, but there was too much bass in the mix to give it a legitimate listen. I would have at least expected to hear “Cameras,” the lead single, but there was none to be found. This irked me because I am a huge fan of the first two albums and am really curious to see what direction the music takes, especially in a live manner, with Ben Allen pulling the strings.
Butt Matt and Kim are such great, fun, goofy people. Matt made a great Wu-Tang Clan reference (to which I yelled “Matt Johnson ain’t nothin’ to fuck with” to more weird glances; seriously, it kind of sucked) and the banter was hilarious at some parts. Both of them kept repeating how Baltimore was giving them the best show of the tour and they were impressed there were so many people there (even though it hadn’t sold out yet on the day of) and that they just loved Baltimore. Maybe I’m just a skeptic (I am), but it just sounded so rehearsed and so cookie-cutter, which is really unfortunate because I like to believe they’re genuine people. But it sounded like something they could have said the night before in Washington, D.C. or the night before that in Richmond or the night before that in Chapel Hill.
But everything aside, it was a great show. There could be so much more to talk about, but I’ve already written over 1,000 words and my geography lecture is about to end. Fact remains, Matt & Kim put on a sick live show no matter the circumstances, and are definitely worth checking out.
Also, please check out Sick Weapons and Rapdragons. Support Baltimore music.