Matt & Kim make Pearl Street sweat

By Angela Stasiowski

Courtesy of
Matt & Kim rocked Pearl Street Ballroom so hard they made the ceiling sweat last Saturday night. There was actual perspiration dripping from the rafters as Matt Johnson and Kim Schifino broke it down for a full house of proud New Englanders.

Kicking off the night was none other than Fletcher C. Johnson, brother of the masculine half of Matt & Kim. Besides the family resemblance, there was little else to connect Fletcher C. Johnson to his dance-punk brother. His music could best be described as far-out alternative folk with a twist. Fletcher’s set, on the shorter side was lost to many of the fans that remained waiting in the cold November weather to obtain their tickets.

Next was Javelin, a noisy dance band that could have used better sound mixing but managed to rile up the crowd just as well. The singer must have received some affirmation when he repeatedly asked the audience if everything sounded good, because he kept trucking through the set with rather poorly-mixed vocals.

After Javelin warmed things up, the ominous black curtains that served as background for the first two bands were torn away to reveal a surprisingly flashy setup. Color-changing diamonds hung in an arch above the stage, making up an electronic rainbow.

Both Matt & Kim have their roots in New England and one of the first things they did was profess their love for the region. Matt Johnson grew up in Vermont and Kim Schifino in Rhode Island. Both currently reside in Brooklyn, New York, where they met while attending Pratt University.

The duo wasted no time in getting the room moving again after the set change. “Good Ol’Fashioned Nightmare,” a favorite from the 2009 album “Grand,” inspired handclap choruses all around.

For “It’s a Fact,” Matt & Kim tossed balloons out to the masses and instructed balloon holders to hang on to them until the count of four. As usual, people could not resist the allure of tossing balloons prematurely, but the affect was still a stunning display. After the song, the balloons were all popped in unison.

Matt & Kim were sure to let audience members, as well as themselves, catch their breath by interspersing slower tunes throughout the set. Songs like “Light Speed” and “I’ll Take Us Home” served this purpose just fine.

At a high point in the excitement, Schifino enacted what has come to be known as the “crowd booty dance.” This display involved the tiny drummer walking out on the hands of audience members only to stop mid-crowd and perform the most precarious booty dance imaginable.

Unfortunately for fans hungry for new material, Saturday’s show did not feature many tunes from “Sidewalks,” despite the new album’s positive reception. “Silver Tiles” was a standout from the new album, as well as the first song the band wrote together.

“Daylight,” a fan favorite, was both the highlight and the closer of the evening. “I’ve had people tell me that this song gets them out of bed,” commented Johnson before kicking off the tune. He commanded the audience to shake off the bad day, week, month or year that was weighing them down in exchange for a moment of happiness and dance.

Though there was no encore, Johnson and Schifino came out after their set to break it down to “Empire State of Mind,” an anthem for the Brooklyn-based duo.

This was, without question, one of the most active crowds Pearl Street has seen as of late. The duo provoked crowd surfing, dancing and an overall controlled frenzy from their fans. There was no pushing or hostility, just happiness and dancing. The band’s energy and million-watt smiles were deathly contagious. It was very clear that Johnson and Schifino had found their bliss in performance, and it was inspirational.

To go from humble beginnings as art students in New York to selling out shows across the country, Matt & Kim have truly made it. But unlike many of their contemporaries, they have not yet sold their souls. Johnson’s parents, as well as some of his high school teachers, were in attendance. He was sure to thank the audience on countless occasions for the one thing (besides Kim) that makes him the happiest: playing shows. Second, of course, were burritos.

Angela Stasiowski can be reached at [email protected]