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Gig Review: Matt And Kim @ The Corner Hotel, 2nd February

“Party in Melbourne on a Wednesday night, what is UP!”

Matt And Kim at the Corner Hotel was one of the most intense, energetic, and fun gigs I have ever been to at the Melbourne venue. I don’t think I have ever witnessed another band demolish the venue quite like that.

I had seen Brooklyn ‘powerpop’ duo Matt And Kim a week earlier at the Sydney Big Day Out, where they had easily been the standout of the day. Therefore I was understandably very excited to see their own headline show in Melbourne, and even though the show hadn’t sold out there was still a very sizable crowd gathered around the stage by the time I arrived, about a quarter of an hour before the band were scheduled to take to the stage.

In cases such as this, it really is the quality instead of the quantity in terms of the crowd that matters however. And as soon as Matt and Kim strode out confidently onto the stage, it was obvious that every single person was at the venue to have an amazing time and for the love of the duo’s music.

Given the madness of their Big Day Out set, the show got off to a slightly restrained start with Samir, however things picked up a bit with I Wanna, the first taste of the band’s excellent 2009 album ‘Grand’. The entire crowd wasn’t necessarily into the gig right from the start, with small pockets of energy dominating the venue rather than unanimous moshing.

This was about to change however, with the brilliant track of Good Ol’ Fashioned Nightmare which, despite being one of the band’s less upkey numbers, lifted the energy to a new level and saw pretty much everyone jumping joyfully as high as they could whilst singing along at the top of their voices. It was a truly awesome atmosphere.

I was extremely glad to hear Cutdown very earlier in the set, given that it hadn’t been played at the Big Day Out, and is probably my favourite track from the duo. Live it was simply spectacular, as the crowd screamed the iconic “Five, four, three, two, ONE!” chorus as loud as we possibly could, arms outstretched towards the two figures on stage.

I believe it was in the leadup to the track It’s A Fact (Printed Stained) that Matt threw out balloons to the crowd and asked everyone to blow them up, like he had done at the Big Day Out. Just as it had been then, it was a masterstroke. Whereas the show felt like it had amazing potential before this moment, as soon as those balloons entered the crowd, the energy lifted to simply insane levels, and the potential of the gig was realised in a sudden rush of jumping, screaming, and waving around balloons like madmen.

All of a sudden what had been a good gig become an unforgettable one, because the energy didn’t drop one bit for the rest of the show. Not a single person stopped jumping for a single second after It’s A Fact (Printed Stained), right up until the end of the set.

Once again the stage presence of Matt And Kim was impeccable and infectious. They just seemed so happy to be on stage, and were constantly smiling broadly whilst playing, limbs flailing everywhere. You couldn’t help but get caught up in the excitement of the whole thing, and the crowd and performers fed off the energy of one another, creating a perpetual mosh.

Lessons Learned was a standout of the set, and saw the crowd pack up even more tightly, with pretty much the entire Corner Hotel going mental. Like I said, quality over quantity. It’s so rare that you see the entire crowd caught up in the energy of a gig like this. The “No time for cameras, we’ll use our eyes instead” line of Cameras was taken to heart by the audience: I don’t think I saw a single person with a camera out during the second half of the set.

“This is the fastest song we’ve ever written,” said Matt in introduction to Cinders, “And we want you to turn this into a Slayer concert”. We did our best as well, as everyone lost their mind to the impossibly upbeat and bouncy track that saw the venue rocking and all arms outstretched towards the ceiling. Lacking any lyrics to sing along to, we compromised and sung along with the synth.

As seems to be customary at Matt And Kim shows, Kim entered the crowd to perform a ‘booty dance’ whilst balancing atop the outstretched hands of the audience. She stood pretty much directly on top of me whilst dancing, with me supporting one of her feet as she demonstrated her skills. Everyone helping support her took our cues from Matt as we spun Kim around three-hundred-and-sixty degrees, performing what was apparently the first ever rotational booty dance. It was very cool.

“We have two and a half songs left,” said Matt cryptically, “So you know exactly how to ration out your energy”. And so we did: give 100% to every single track. Yea Yea was awesome, mindless fun that probably saw the most enthusiastic mosh to date develop, especially during that instantly recognisable chorus that was so easy and so fun to sing/scream along to.

“I hope these hands, WHOA-OH-OH!”

I don’t think I have ever seen two people smile as broadly as Matt and Kim were on stage.

The ‘half song’ was explained with a fleeting cover of Better Off Alone that was actually fantastic, and saw the whole crowd singing along to the synth once again, until we took over lead vocals whilst being ably conducted by Kim, standing on her drumkit.

“Thank you so much,” said Matt, and it really did seem as if the two were extremely appreciative and slightly in awe of the response their music had received. “You guys have been everything that a band could ever hope for”. And to be honest, I think we kind of had been. I can’t remember the last time I was  a part of a crowd this willing to party; this unanimously excited about the music we were witnessing. The constant energy throughout this set was second to none.

But everything was leading to that last song, and it was of course Daylight. Despite both crowd and performers alike being drenched in sweat by this point, everyone drew on their last reserves of energy and threw one last huge party to the brilliant track. It was phenomenal, and entirely crazy. Every word was sung by every person, and all arms were extended in the air for the duration of the track, as feet spent more time in the air than they did on the ground.

And just like that the gig was over. As deafening applause and wooing rung out in the Corner Hotel, Matt took it upon himself to jump into the crowd, saying a personal thanks to all the punters in the crowd. His mere presence made even the song playing over the PA system go off, as a mini-mosh developed around him. I have never seen a band who could make even the house music go off simply by walking into the crowd after their set.

But anyway, I got to hug Matt which was pretty cool, and then immediately gravitated towards the water at the back of the venue. It was quite a sight to witness everyone staggering out of the venue, drenched in sweat and slightly bewildered at the insanity that we had just been a part of.

It really was an excellent show. It was one of those gigs where you never knew where you would finish up after a song of constant jumping: right at the front of the stage, or at a back corner. Such was the energy, insanity, and movement among the entire venue. It was a joy to be a part of such a fantastic and energetic crowd, which was due in no small part to the energy on stage.

I think that Matt And Kim’s live show relies very heavily on crowd energy and participation. While this means an occasional show may fall a bit flat, it also means that when the band have a crowd willing to replicate and partake in their awesomely happy and energetic stage show, their set simply goes off.

So was the case on a warm Wednesday night in Melbourne, and so will hopefully be the case when the band return here as soon as humanly possible.

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