Matt & Kim

Posted in Spotlight by unartignyc on 2009/11/19

There’s this pizza joint in East Williamsburg, Brooklyn. It used to be a pretty decent spot. A bit on the pricey side maybe, but at least one could bring their own alcohol rather than spending an offensive dollar amount on some ‘three letter shitbrew’ in a can. The rustic “warehouse turned restaurant” feel was charming and one never had a hard time grabbing a seat at the mostly communal style tables. Of course at one point the owner(s) came up with the ingenious idea of applying for a liquor license and from then on served beverages in jam jars! A classic ‘wtf’ moment, right?! While I certainly do appreciate a good quality Hefeweizen being available, even if it’s at standard Manhattan prices, the concept of drinking beer out of a way to small jam jar is beyond me. Add to that a pizza quality that over the years has become increasingly soggy or the large number of Meat Packing district type patrons swarming the place these days and we pretty much have a textbook example of a downward spiral. In 2009, all “Roberta’s”  is good for is an allergic reaction.

A notion actually, even though for very different reasons, that is quite similar to my feelings when I first stepped into the place. The visit was of course before some entrepreneurs turned the dump into a money grabbing hellhole with questionable service. In 2007, the building on the corner of Moore and Bogart was nothing but an empty warehouse space, coated in thick layers of dust and grime. On June 22nd “261 Moore” hosted a Parts & Labor record release show, headlined by Matt & Kim and supported by The Death SetBest Fwends and DJ Dirty Finger of the infamous Black Label Bike Club on the wheels of steel. The show was originally scheduled for a different space. However, around 6pm on the day of the show promoter Todd P found out that the planned location had been turned into a sweatshop. So he quickly moved the party to what could only be described as the “Moore Street Barracks”. This spot looked like it was beyond repair. Piles of junk where  everywhere. And the dust… Jesus Christ, the asthma attack inducing dust! But once the sweltering security-  and bouncer less warehouse packed in with hundreds of kids none of this mattered. The dust was soaked up in an ocean of sweat and filtered by  nonstop waves of crowd surfers. In other words, the typical mayhem of a Matt & Kim show drowned out every aspect one could possibly bitch about. Shows and circumstances like these are what I consider to be punk. Raw energy in an environment most ‘nine to fivers’ would run from screaming. Fuck! Huge streams of piss flowed into the streets from every corner of the shack. Yes, there were a few port-a-potties but it wasn’t like any  of the drunks gave two shits. It was a filthy yet bizarrely heartwarming experience all at the same time. Such memorable and uniquely entertaining punk rock moments don’t come one’s way too often. Funny enough 2006 and 2007 saw plenty of them and many were associated  with Matt & Kim performances.

For instance, the 2006 late night patio show at the Brooklyn Diner, which later became Duff’s and now serves as some sort of construction company truck parking lot or whatever. Doors were at 11pm which was great because my wife and I were at Carnegie Hall earlier that night to see Ornette Coleman. While I have the deepest respect and appreciation for Coleman’s body of work, I feel alienated by places like Carnegie Hall and its museum-like atmosphere mixed with a subtle vibe of music school elitism. Consequently the trip to the Brooklyn Diner felt like a homecoming. A down to earth outdoor space surrounded by a scenery reminiscent of a war zone rather than that of anything remotely posh. The building across the street looked like a ruin from the Kosovo conflict. Add to that a bit of an industrial feel in the air and you get the general atmosphere. Simply put, we loved every single aspect of this show and had forgotten about the dull Carnegie Hall experience within 2 minutes of our arrival. And it only got better. Every single band on the bill killed it, with the exception of High Places, who probably couldn’t even murder a slice of vegan cheesecake. As far as I can recall it was their first show ever but whether or not that’s an excuse for a performance who’s stiffness rivaled that of a two hundred year old oak tree I don’t know. Thankfully all the other bands on the bill totally delivered. Big Digits, Hawnay Troof and Matt & Kim nothing short of destroyed. While the crowd’s response was modest for the first three of the four bands, Matt & Kim’s set opened all flood gates. As soon as Matt hit the first note on his keyboard nobody in the diverse crowd, which was equally made up of artists, scenesters, bike punks and what gets referred to as ‘Hipster’ I guess, held back. The stage less location turned into a wildly undulating pit with kids performing all sorts of crazy stunts, such as swinging from the rafters. Glass bottles shattering all around, speakers toppled over, as did Kim’s drum kit. It was greatness in its purest form and the final proof that Atom and His Package’s heirs had finally claimed the crown in the kingdom of quirky nerdy party punk.

Whenever I pass “Roberta’s” nowadays it brings back memories of these shows and how things have changed since then. Not only real estate-wise, but also for Matt & Kim. Never in my life would I have thought that this warehouse and Brooklyn backyard party phenomenon could be converted into a ‘MTV award winning major spotlight’ type of act. While I personally find very little joy in all things washed ashore by the mainstream entertainment industry I’ve got to hand it to those two. They grew with their challenges,  stepped up their shit, refined their sound and even after hundreds of shows played every year, Kim is still smiling, disarmingly.

Below is our visual account of aforementioned events and additional impressions from a 2009 headlining show in front of 5000 ecstatic fans, illustrating Matt & Kim’s current state of affairs. All footage was shot on location in New York City. Complimentary text contributions from diverse ends of the spectrum come from Edan Wilber/Entertainment4Every1, Ty Kube/Team Robespierre, Kelie Bowman/Cinders Gallery & Hot Box, Teenwolf/Ninjasonik, Johnny Sierra/The Death Set, TD/Big Digits, Nicholas Chatfield-Taylor/Matt & Kim Stage Manager, and Josh Brown/Jamband Josh Jodoin

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[Nicholas Chatfield-Taylor | M&K Stage Manager]
I spent the majority of the Hudson River Park Pier 54 show in between the stage and the barricade running a camera/DVD/projection system Matt and I had put together. The barricade was not anything sturdy, just metal dividers that are more normally used to coral a line in front of a venue to keep the sidewalk clear. As soon as Matt and Kim started, the barricade was pushed nearly to the stage, much to the surprise of security. For the rest of the show, three or four security guards leaned back in to the barricade and held the crowd off. Unfortunately they pushed the crowd far back and stage diving was then not possible. I think 5000 people were there. When Matt and Kim closed with Daylight the crowd singing along was just as loud as the speakers I was standing under. Pretty awesome welcome home for Matt and Kim after their tour which closed with the Pier show.
Nicholas Chatfield-Taylor | Brooklyn, November 2009

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[Ty Kube | Team Robespierre]
Maybe I’m crazy, maybe I’m not….. But i think i saw Matt and Kim’s first show ever…. If i remember correctly it was at my friend Fletcher’s, Matt’s older brothers, birthday show. At this point I didn’t really know Matt. I remember Fletcher telling me I was gonna be really impressed by his “little brother’s” band. Needless to say that was the first time I ever witnessed Matt and Kim steal the show.

I’m not sure if Matt and Kim are my “favorite” live band but they are definitely the one i respect the most. Its amazing the energy those two people can bring to the stage (or floor/or swimming pool). The spectacle is almost uncanny. I once saw Matt and Kim play their set using a real piano instead of their synths…IT WAS AMAZING. Their shows aren’t just “fun or crazy” but genuine.

It’s crazy to think just how much these two have taught me…..From how to handle yourself in a touring band, to giving it your all each and every night. I’m so greatful for these experiences and all the help they have given to me as a person, and as a musician through these past few years. Matt and Kim are not just an amazing band, Matt and Kim are amazing people who just happen to make amazing songs that drive the kids crazy. I value both their friendship and music immensely.
Ty Kube | Brooklyn, November 2009

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[Edan Wilber | Entertainment4Every1]
Dear lord, how many times have i seen Matt and Kim in some odd place in the past 5 odd years. They have always been the sweetest of hearts whether they are at McCarren playing to thousands or in someone’s 3rd floor apt off the J train or in a pizza factory playing a huge show that happened at the last minute, they have never disappointed. Sometimes i look around at their shows now and i have no idea who anyone else in the crowd is, but i remember those times when it was like a social circle around the front of Kim’s drums keeping them from toppling over. Its just a testament to attitude, we know ’em and know how real they are but these kids just hear this music without knowing them and it speaks volumes to them. I think thats pretty rad. Hopefully they’ll keep at it as long as they can. Maybe we’ll all be at Madison Square Garden in top hats someday, im down. I wish i could count the times i have yelled the words to 5k at the top of my lungs but its gotta be more than a hundred.
Edan | Brooklyn, April 2009

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[Kelie Bowman | Cinders Gallery]
I’ve known Matt and Kim ever since I moved here, it seems like forever ago. I remember when they first got together as a couple. I thought Matt was older than Kim. Hehe. I also remember when they decided to start playing music. At the same time Kim and I were learning how to tap dance to start something called tap core. I think this is what ultimately made her pick up drumming so fast. I was at their first shows when it was all homies and they were so nervous but still had huge ass smiles on their face. The most memorable show for me was when they played in a kitchen and people were throwing food all around and crowd surfing from the top of a fridge. It was pretty special, like them. They work harder than most people I know and I am happy they are in my life and spreading the gospel…
Kelie | Brooklyn, November 2009

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[Teenwolf | Ninjasonik]
First time i saw Matt and Kim my heart almost jumped out my chest. They are literally the most exciting performers on the face of the earth. On top of that, they are the happiest, most awesome people i have ever encountered. Their energy is undeniably awesome. To quote the movie “the last dragon” it seems obvious to me “they got the glow”. They are incredible and i don’t know where our band would be without them. They inspire and drive us to work harder.
Teenwolf | Brooklyn, November 2009

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[Josh Brown]
The first time I saw Matt and Kim was one of the first shows I saw after moving to Brooklyn. I would compare it to mass hysteria because it was also the first time I saw a large crowd of people going absolutely insane over truly mediocre music. This foreshadowed a lot of the “style music” I saw over the next few years. In my mind, Matt and Kim stand for the complete failure of my generation’s conception of a popular counter culture; vegans on bikes in condos complaining about newer condos getting their sex from art magazines and popular television shows they can’t admit to their friends they watch. They make terrible art. They think dancing is humping or moshing. But for all the doubters out there: Matt and Kim are unbelievably nice people based on the handful of times I met them.
Josh Brown | Minneapolis, MN November 2009

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[TD | Big Digits]
We’ve only played with Matt & Kim a couple of times but I can certainly say that they are the nicest people in New York City and I have never seen two people who exude such unabashed joy at playing music than them. They are a guileless party machine.
TD | Cambridge, MA November 2009

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[Johnny Sierra | TheDeathSet]
Wow! Seeing your friends hold MTV trophies when you saw them play house parties and DIY spaces just a year or two before is amazing. And they really deserve it. Toured like maniacs, worked like crazy people and were smart with their decisions along the way. Plus their tunes are catchy as fuck of course! I remember the first time I saw them was at a small punk space in Baltimore with Parts and Labor to about 7 people. Matt was ranting about some kind of personal stuff about Kim and his relationship which was so cute, kind of weird and completely hilarious. More power to them as they take over the world.
Jonny Sierra | Brooklyn, November 2009

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