Review / photos: Matt and Kim electrify Tampa's Ritz Ybor withlove, 'Lightning'
I have serious relationship envy.
Matt and Kim aren’t your ordinary couple. On a normal day, they travel the world and play live shows to hundreds and thousands of people. For nearly a decade, they have spent practically every waking moment together. The dynamic duo hails from Brooklyn and began making music together around 2005. Kim Schifino learned the drums and Matt Johnson the keyboard and vocals. After four albums, the most recent being Lightning, they have a pretty stout following. Somehow, their zany energy hasn’t changed.
The thing about Matt & Kim is that you don’t have to be a fan to admire them. Shoot, you don’t even have to know their songs. Just do what Kim commands and you’ll have a good time (okay, maybe not everything).
On Wednesday at the Ritz Ybor in Tampa, she asked for people to crowd surf from one side of the room to the next, or to blow up 100 balloons thrown to the mass and bop them around. When she wasn’t drumming up a storm, she doled out high fives; climbed on top of her bass drum and orchestrated the audience with her drumsticks (I wonder how many drum sets she’s broken); booty-danced at center stage for the gawkers; walked atop fans’ hands like Jesus on water. Sometimes she’d go hassle Matt and press buttons on his keyboard while he was playing. When she drummed, she smiled and mechanically beat her percussion the only way she knows how: fiercely enthusiastically. Seriously, she is the happiest drummer I have ever seen.
Matt invoked a jovial spirit, too. He took to his stool the way Kim did her bass drum, standing above the crowd in a passionate moment only to plop back down again, not skipping a beat. And he didn’t shy away from continual dialogue. Matt acknowledged all their times in Tampa, giving props to the Skatepark of Tampa, where they played twice before performing at Czar last year. He said that he destroyed his back at the Czar gig, saying “It got so weird, it was incredible.” He shared his disbelief in bands skipping Florida on tours, since “Florida is the s---,” adding that that, “Anything goes in Tampa.” They said lots of other things, all too graphic to share here.
Songs I recognized: Let’s Go, Now, It’s Alright (their self-proclaimed favorite off of Lightning), Yea Yeah, Lessons Learned, Daylight, Silver Tiles, Tonight and closer Good For Great. Before playing Let’s Go, Matt said, “I heard 2012 is the last year of the universe, so...” and then proceeded. Daylight, their biggest hit, remains the obvious crowd favorite.
Between trying to get large rises from the crowd by saying that we were louder than Orlando but not Tallahassee and taking swigs of beer (why was Kim drinking Budweiser?), Matt & Kim carried out a captivating chemistry under incessant explosions of confetti. It’s as if R.E.M. wrote Shiny Happy People about them.
It’s them against the world, or with it. I’m not sure. I do know that their effervescent spirit made me want to know them, or be them.
They promised to see us all soon when they exited the stage, which can only mean that a couple who plays together, stays together.
— Stephanie Bolling, tbt*