Tuesday, October 30, 2007

an open letter to matt johnson & kim schifino

dear matt & kim -

i was at your show ten days ago (10/20/07 @ music hall of williamsburg), the show that was your last in brooklyn for the year, the show that cost five bucks and featured your buddies flosstradamus. i just wanted to tell you about how much fun i had, and how grateful i was that i had a chance to see you on your home turf, and on such a special night. i've never seen you perform before, but the day i heard that you were playing at music hall of williamsburg, i biked down to mercury lounge to pick up a pair of tickets. the guy that sold them to me was shocked that they were so cheap, but i was shocked when the show wasn't sold out. i suppose you had some competition, but i'd much rather dance to tweaked-out keyboards than thumping bass. in any event, i think MHOW ended up full the night of, and i hope i speak for everyone who was there in telling you how special it was.

i first heard of you last year, though i wasn't on the ball enough to pick up a copy of to/from. i had to content myself with reviewing s/t for my college radio station, which is about the time i fell in love. matt & kim was blaring in my headphones for weeks, and i secretly danced to it during my radio show, which featured songs from that album at least once an hour. as the concert director of my radio station, i even emailed you to invite you to play in maine, but that didn't work out, and i was very sad. i missed your show in vancouver by one day (i was there on vacation), and wasn't in town for your first MHOW show, and i began to feel that i would never get to see you live. but then this show came along, and i jumped at the chance. if i hadn't been in such pain at the end of the night (too many crowd surfers jumped on my face), i don't think i could've stopped smiling if i wanted to.

when i first saw the lineup, i was a little surprised; i mean, everybody knows how bitching your collaboration with flosstradamus was, but i never suspected that you two would appear in concert together. i've really gotten into party djs this year, so i was excited to hear what flosstradamus had to show for themselves. despite my love for art brut, i hadn't known that art goblins were a manifestation of eddie argos and jasper future (along with five or six other people), and once i found that out, i was really psyched to hear what they had up their collective sleeve. i wasn't, however, excited for the hood internet. i know they're gotten a lot of press for their free mixtapes (which you can download at their myspace), but the whole mashup thing is totally played out, and i never thought their mixtapes were particularly ingenious to begin with. but still, three out of four isn't bad, especially during the constantly-unpredictable cmj.

unfortunately, the show had a bad start. eddie argos's plane was delayed, which meant no art goblins. a rumor going around the pit was that they would come on after the hood internet, but, sadly, they never made it on stage at all, though they did have a brief cameo appearance later. that led to the hood internet appearing earlier than expected (and playing longer than i hoped). their live schtick was the same as their mixtapes - verse samples lifted straight from hot 97, paired with beats that were far too often indistinguishable. i managed to catch a bit of "my moon my man" and a bonde do role song, but the rest was rather plain, to the point of being irritating - i'd managed to live my life before then without ever hearing "don't cha" in its entirety, a life bonus that i no longer enjoy. what made it a great deal worse was that it seemed like most of the crowd wasn't really into it either. there was a lot of attempted dancing, but the hood internet's beats were either too abrasive or the songs too short to get much of a groove on. even when they handed out lightning rod-shaped glowsticks, the energy never really had much of a peak, leaving me (and the rest of the crowd) to alternate between trying to dance and standing still. the hood internet frequently gave the impression that they far from being skilled djs, fluidly mixing songs together, but amateurs with some nice software and a little imagination. i felt the biggest indicator of this was that they almost never used the turntables onstage - like in the picture on the right, the hood internet spent most of their set looking into their laptop, merely segueing from one pre-mashed song to the next, rather than getting their mix on.

such was not the case with flosstradamus, thankfully. it was instantly apparent that these guys had skill. it is a tribute to them that i barely remember their set - i was dancing far too much to focus on much else, as was everyone else. from the moment they came onstage, the entire tenor of the show changed. no longer was the crowd trying to dance - they were dancing with abandon. flosstradamus flawlessly mixed songs, ranging from the mainstream to the unrecognizable with nothing short of serious ability. flosstradamus was no one trick pony, either - their visuals were as much a fluid part of the set as their mixing, ranging from absurd pixelated ladies to teeth-gnashing sharks. also, they sampled "sandstorm."

there were two sincere highlights of flosstradamus's set, the first coming in the middle and the second at the end. when they announced that the next song would be the remix of "yea yeah" - matt & kim, i have to tell you - the place went apeshit. the pit hadn't yet turned into the pulsating mob that it would be for your set, but the crowd was seriously digging what flosstradamus was spinning. like i said, i can't remember most of it, but the ending was surely the night's biggest climax thus far. even as your stagehands set up your keyboards and drums, flosstradamus was leading the crowd in an amazing singalong to weezer's "say it ain't so," our voices not yet as hoarse as they would be after your set. as we stood there, singing along, i began to get a sense of the real connectivity and positivity in this space - and then you came on.

(before i write about how mind-bogglingly amazing and happy your set was, i want to apologize for the delay in this letter. i picked up a lot of work these past two weeks, and i've been struggling to keep up. also, i didn't go to the show to report on it; i went to enjoy myself. and lordy lord, i did. i hope you don't mind the wait.)

i know i don't need to tell you how amazing the show was. after all, you were there, and your excitement and joy fueled our passion, and it's because of you that i and everyone else who was there had a simply fantastic time. it was such a perfect end to such a great day - i started off seeing todd p's free show with islands, had dinner at a swell place in the neighborhood, and watched the red sox kick some serious ass, but, honestly, that paled in comparison to your performance. from the get-go, it was clear that this was going to be more like a house party than a performance - your modesty, energy, and overwhelming joy made the 750-person venue feel like a cramped basement (in nothing but a good way). maybe that was an illusion, because i was (literally) smashed in the front, but there was no distance between us - you even set up your keyboards and kit on the very edge of the stage, as close to us as possible. there was no posturing or pretension, just uninhibited joy, and we were right there with you.

the first thing that attracted me to you was the happiness and simplicity that was abundant in matt & kim, the same elements that made your live show so appealing. i'm smiling as i write, remembering how unique the show ten days ago was. no offense to you, matt & kim, but i have only the vaguest memories of your set - i was a little preoccupied with dancing my ass off, and saving my glasses from getting snapped in half! (matt, next time i'm taking my cues from you, and wearing one of those glasses straps.) some gig facts that i recall: kim got a mic for the first time ever, in over three years of performing; you're taking the winter off to record a new album, woop woop; matt introduced the song "frank" as being about kim's dad; the set ended with "silver tiles;" there was some dude in a mask who kept crowd-diving, all over my face; and matt read multiple excerpts from letters to e.t., which was probably the evening's best moment. we were all giddy with laughter and endorphins, and the fact that both of you kept talking about how happy you were, and how exciting it was to be playing to us in such a good space, for your last brooklyn show of the year, and how honored you were to be here with us, but, honestly, the honor was all ours. matt & kim, you played one of the best sets i've seen all year, which is no mean feat. i feel lucky to have been there.

that's it. kinda lame after ten days, sure, but like i said - i wasn't there as a blogger, i was there as a fan.

matt and kim, thank you.


mr. mammoth

matt & kim - "silver tiles"

the photos used in this post were taken by mr. mammoth and xiaoyi.

No comments: