Concert review: Matt and Kim throw a smiling dance party at the Pageant, Thursday, June 23
Portland’s the Thermals tore through their opening set Pixies-style, complete with skull crushing versions of their hits “I Don’t Believe You,” “We Were Sick,” and “Now We Can See.” The sardine-packed pit swayed, roared and clapped along with the thump of drummer Westin Glass’s bass drum and the silver edge of lead singer and guitarist Hutch Harrison’s distorted guitar. They warmed the crowd to perfection with their indie-punk West Coast energy.
After the Thermals, the stage techs rolled Matt & Kim’s black, elevated platform, which supported both Kim’s drum set and Matt’s double synthesizer/keyboard kit, to the forefront of the stage. In anticipation the crowd cheered and clapped at the Misfits T-shirt-clad roadie. One rowdy drinker with a sideways red hat in the pit was booted by security before the party kicked off.
Soon, the houselights dimmed as Jay Z’s “Empire State of Mind” melted over the speakers. When the houselights returned, Matt & Kim were dancing the length of the stage like Cardinals cheerleaders, spinning towels, hyping the crowd with Pixie-stick smiles and wide-gaited leg gallops.
The duo settled down at their instruments, asked the audience a quick, “You all okay up in here?” and launched into “Block After Block,” from 2010’s Sidewalks. Matt’s keyboards weaved an electric tapestry that Kim’s heady drums played off with grin-inducing alacrity. The song swirled into the rafters as it slid into its double-time section hurtling toward furious conclusion. The crowd cheered back the overdubbed “yeahs,” as the song came full circle on its bouncy chorus.
Matt keyed into “Good Ol’ Fashioned Nightmare” after offering up some words about how beautiful St. Louis is, how much Matt and Kim both loved Forest Park and how gorgeous the day was, an omen for how amazing the evening’s show was destined to be. Matt’s energy was only trumped by Kim’s, who thumped into “Red Paint” with a gigantic smile and glee in her eye. Her energy bled into the crowd, which gyrated, waved and bounced in time with the floor tom-led emo-power tune.
During a section toward the middle of the song, Kim stopped drumming and leapt onto her bass drum and conducted the crowd with her drumsticks. When the section ended, she popped back down on her drum stool without missing a single beat or allowing the smile to slip from her lips.
Matt told the audience how cold it was in New York when the duo recorded its nudie music video for “Lessons Learned” before Kim’s bass drum shattered the giggles of the crowd. The lights flashed and revealed hundreds in ecstasy, cheering along with the chorus “da da da da.” On “Turn This Boat Around,” Kim took her only break from drums and danced the stage as hype-woman for Matt’s playing, only pausing to sweetly reach around him during the chorus to help play an additional electronic lick.
Before “It’s A Fact,” the pair handed the crowd hundreds of balloons, instructed them to blow them up and throw them into the air as Matt kicked off the song with “1,2,1,2,3,4!” The Pageant was a gaiety of balloons, similar to a Flaming Lips maneuver. Even the balcony got in on it, as the electro-punk tune shuddered through the venue with neck-cracking sway.
Matt & Kim rolled through “Light Speed,” “Good For Great,” and the first song they ever wrote, “Silver Tiles.” The pair, whose intensity and upbeat energy never faded, held the massive crowd transfixed. Matt leapt into a cover of Biz Markie’s “Just A Friend,” which surprised the audience into a raucous swirl of cheers and singing along that threatened to drown out the vocals.
After a dizzying and frenetic version of “Yea Yeah,” Kim grabbed the microphone and screamed “I fucking love Budweiser!” On “Wires” Matt said St. Louis was going to have to turn up the volume to 25. The crowd exploded into roars and applause louder than any that came before. “Northeast” brought the energy level down for a moment, and after the song Matt talked about the bra shrine — a wall full of stage-tossed bras — that lurks behind the stage of the Pageant. Kim jokingly bemoaned her “itty-bitty-titties,” to which Matt responded, “aw Kim, I love your itty-bitty-titties!” as bras landed on the stage at the duo’s feet.
Matt asked that every male in the audience take off his shirt and helicopter it over their heads. Again, The Pageant resembled a baseball game, as hundreds of shirts spun over Matt’s searing, sugarcoated instrumental.
As the set drew to a close, Matt slipped into a quick interlude of Europe’s “The Final Countdown,” which put the crowd on edge and ready for one more trip around the party track. The song melted into the opening of fan-favorite “Daylight.” Matt’s vocals stood crystalline and clear on the lines “these shoes are poor man’s ice skates,” as Kim’s playful and creative tom rim clicked and bass drum hits stuttered. Kim again hopped on the bass drum as the song wound down, shirts landed onstage and the duo departed as the houselights crushed to black.
After a moment, Matt & Kim returned with a house remix of their set, which toured through all the duo’s major songs, playing over the PA behind them. Matt sang a bit as he strutted the stage like a superhero, microphone in hand, as he and Kim flicked confetti sticks at the crowd, hyping them up one last time. As the song closed, with utmost enthusiasm Matt & Kim thanked St. Louis once more and left the stage. The sweat-drenched audience members sauntered out for late-night food, drinks and drives home with exuberance and spring in their step.
The infectious, happy, energetic vibe Matt & Kim brought to St. Louis flowed for hours after the show and surely trailed many a joyous fan home. Mark you, next time Matt & Kim hit St. Louis, it will be at an arena like Scottrade Center. Yes, they are kind of a big deal.