Matt & Kim end tour with Boston thriller

A review of Matt & Kim at the House of Blues on June 30, 2011

, Contributing Writer

Matt & Kim hit Boston’s House of Blues last Thursday, delivering an absolutely thrilling and entertainer show that brought their “American Sidewalk Tour” to a memorable close before a crowd of adoring fans.

It was the final of 25 shows stretching over a month, and no one could have blamed them for being tired. Despite what we might sometimes want to believe about the mythology of rock and pop music, it isn’t all fun and games or reckless and wild party after reckless and wild party; at the end of the day being in a band is a job. So it’s no surprise then that some shows are less the memorable with the band showing a no frills, workmen-like approach to the performance. Knowing that it’s just another show for the band allows the reviewer to consider their criticisms more carefully.

The way Matt & Kim rocked the House of Blues on Thursday threw all that careful consideration and caution out the window. From beginning to end, Matt & Kim, and indeed the crowd as well, put as much energy in the show as I’ve ever seen as a reviewer. It was hard not to believe them when they declared it was the best show of the tour.

Matt & Kim bring a manic pace and a tendency to change it at the drop of a hat to every song. On “Good ‘Ol Fashion Nightmare” and “Red Paint”, Kim Schifino’s aggressive drumming and Matt Johnson’s serpentine keyboard playing gave the songs an almost video game feel, as if they were spontaneously creating the soundtrack to some unseen Mario Brothers level. Schifino’s drumming in particular, endearingly enthusiastic in a way that can’t possibly be a put on, got the crowd riled up, along with her penchant jumping on top of her drum set and running around the stage during the quieter, drum-less songs.

Throughout the night, the pair showed their roots to the area, referencing their connections to New England (Matt is originally from Vermont and Kim is from Rhode Island) and the fact that family members were present. On “Northeast”, one of the aforementioned slower tunes that saw Kim dancing around the stage getting the crowd to sing along, Matt professed his love for the area over slow piano chords.

These softer moments, though great, were just pauses in the real entertainment of the evening. At various points throughout the show, the band got the crowd revved up and involved, creating a truly party-like atmosphere. Before “It’s a Fact”, the band distributed balloons to be blown up and then had the crowd synchronize releasing them with the beginning of the song. Later on, Kim also got all the men in the crowd to take their shirts off. As she pointed out “I’m looking out for the girls…I want to give you a chance to see what you’re working with”. They also showed a willingness to bring out a fun cover or two, playing Alice Deejay’s “Do You Think You’re Better Off Alone” and Biz Markie’s “You Say He’s Just a Friend”.

The duo closed the night out playing “Daylight”, a highlight off their 2009 album Grand. They seemed genuinely unhappy to be finishing the show, and for once it was clear that it wasn’t for show. On this night at least, their job was the best one on earth.

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