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

Vodpod videos no longer available.