Matt & Kim came to dance

Review: The iconic indie pop duo inspired singing, dancing and crowd adoration at their second Syracuse show.

Brooklyn-based dance punks Matt & Kim know how to draw a crowd — and make them happy. Before the doors opened at the Westcott Theater on Wednesday night, youngsters sat along the sidewalk waiting to get in. Those dedicated fans were in for a special treat: at their first Syracuse show since playing the Bandersnatch series in 2007, Matt & Kim hosted a listening party for their upcoming album Sidewalks and played a series of fan favorites from their last album, Grand.

Photo: Andrew Hida
Fans look on from the crowd during Matt & Kim's performance Wednesday night at the Westcott Theater in Syracuse.

Local act Phantom Chemistry took the stage to kick off the show,. This five-piece band is young and still seems to be figuring out their style: A mesh of Bon Jovi meets indie rock, they seemed to be dabbling in every genre in hopes of finding a sound that works. The lead guitarist and vocalist owned the stage and wore a black “fuck Justin Bieber” shirt, but the songs still felt unoriginal and recycled. Another issue was the overly done microphone of the keyboardist/synth player — what I like to call the “Bon Jovi microphone effect,” or a high-pitched squeal created by a tube, air and bad taste. Think Bon Jovi circa 2003 with the song “It’s My Life.”

Fortunately, Brooklyn-based four-piece and Matt & Kim tourmates So So Glos were on hand to rejuvenate the crowd and bring the venue back to life. With a look and sound reminiscent of The Clash, from the guitar choices to the fashion sense, the band played a tight set that had the crowd tapping along to songs like “Live Like TV.” Some of the songs even required tambourines or extra percussions, which were beautifully done and complimentary to the overall sound.

After what felt like an eternity of set-up time, headliners Matt & Kim took the stage to a roaring crowd of fans. With a backdrop of TV screens, which lit up in an array of colors and patterns, the two stars — keyboardist/vocalist Matt Johnson and drummer/vocalist Kim Schifino — pranced on stage and took to their instruments with characteristically huge smiles. Graciously thanking the crowd for coming out to the first night of their tour, the indie rock/pop duo delved into an array of fan favorites timed to please every sweaty person in the crowd.

Matt & Kim got everyone in the venue to dance with a carefully selected rotation of songs. Playing numbers like “Cutdown,” off their most recent and most popular release, Grand, inspired everyone to scream the countdown at the chorus. The acoustic dance tune “Grand” and crowd-pleaser “Good ‘Ol Fashion Nightmare” also had the audience singing and jamming along.

In the midst of the bustling dance party, Kim took a break from drumming to jump into the crowd — literally. Everyone hoisted her up as she hovered above the sea of people, danced and got down, making the entire place sing and dance along.

There were a lot of fun firsts for fans. After some adorable banter between the two bandmates, they played “Silver Tiles,” which Matt told everyone was one of the first songs they ever wrote. Then, to close the set, they played “Daylight,” which he explained was the first time they ever played it in Syracuse. From the first beat of the song, the entire place pulsed with fury, as fans jumped up and down in unison and sang at the top of their lungs.

When it comes to incredibly enthusiastic, energetic sets, it’s tough to beat Matt & Kim. The only bummer: no encore.

Standing on top of the bass drum, Kim Schifino of Matt & Kim sings to the Westcott Theater crowd Wednesday night.

(Photo: Andrew Hida)


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