Concerts always tend to be more entertaining when you arrive through the backstage entrance. Prior to Thursday night’s Matt & Kim show in Milwaukee, I had the pleasure of interviewing Brad Oberhofer, frontman of the show’s opening band, Oberhofer (You can read the Mezzic interview here). The preshow chat did add a layer of excitement going into the show, but if there was one show that didn’t need any additional beforehand hype it might have been this one. Matt & Kim are renowned for putting on energetic, variety-filled shows. Oberhofer’s live show has also received many accolades, largely behind the colorful eccentrics of their namesake frontman.
Oberhofer jump-started the much-anticipated show with “Gotta Go,” a melodic, pre-Time Capsules II single. Having first heard of Oberhofer around the time of their debut LP, I missed some of the band’s earliest releases. “Gotta Go” is a fresh, fun song and was a great show opener.
An early set highlight was the band’s rousing intro to “Haus.” Brad skillfully played it with both hand strumming on the neck portion of his pale blue Hagstrom guitar. Time Capsule II songs, “oOoO” and “Landline” continued to keep the energy going at The Rave. The daunting and epic “HEART” was my favorite song of the show; its cathartic finish translated beautifully into the live setting.
While interviewing Brad earlier he discussed his live shows, and how he’s been doing more crowd interactions during the sets. At the Milwaukee show, he mostly stayed focused on the music, but his excitement fully resonated to the crowd. He leaped off amp stacks and jumped all over the stage. At one point he left the stage entirely and circled around the crowd, before returning to pick the singing back up. I understand now why Brad’s guitar is plugged in remotely and not through a traditional cable.
Oberhofer’s opening set carried a headlining punch– a fantastic start to the show. Definitely a band worth checking out!
I don’t know if anyone is better at hyping their own shows more than Matt & Kim. I had seen them perform once before at Lollapalooza, and the show was much more than anything I was expecting. When they came out on stage that night at The Rave, it was obvious the heavily college/high school-aged crowd was pumped to see them. However, Matt & Kim were insistent on taking any sort of normal concert energy and quadrupling it.
“Let’s get weirder than this room has ever seen before,” Matt exclaimed early in the set. He would go on to deliver similar crowd pumping statements throughout the show. Sing-alongs, confetti, balloons, hip-hop intercuts and shake-that-ass dance routines are all normal aspects of Matt & Kim’s beloved live show. The bandmates regularly step from behind their instruments to dance and rouse up the crowd. There’s so much variety at times that the songs take a back seat to the fun-filled antics.
Sidewalks lively tunes, “Block After Block” and “Red Paint,” were early highlights of the show, along with “Turn This Boat Around” and “Good Ol’ Fashion Nightmare” off of the 2009 breakout album, Grand. Prior to “Good Ol’ Fashion Nightmare” Matt asked the audience to sing along loud enough so the next tour stop, Indianapolis, knew they were coming.
A few times throughout the set both Matt & Kim mentioned technical problems with their monitors, and it appeared the problem never got fully resolved. With that being said, they did an excellent job of not letting it effect their song quality or energy.
On stage, Matt & Kim have been known to initiate inspired sing-alongs of songs that aren’t even theirs. Thursday night, the tune was Alice Deejay’s “Better Off Alone.” It was a goofy aspect but refreshingly fun at the same time. And the crowd as a whole appeared to appreciate it. Not long after, an overwhelming “Matt and Kim” chant filled the venue, illustrating the contagiousness of the duo’s enthusiasm.
With many of the girl/guy music duos, there’s almost automatic speculation about a romantic relationship beyond the musical one. Matt & Kim are, in fact, a couple beyond the stage, and any doubts were set aside when Matt introduced Kim at the show as his “partner in crime, and partner in sex.”
The set wrapped up with the uplifting single “Let’s Go” off of the recent Lightning followed by a partially a cappella sing-along of the Matt & Kim favorite “Lessons Learned.” For the encore, Matt & Kim came back out to a recording of Dr Dre’s “The Next Episode.” They played just one more song, “Good for Great,” but it hit the spot for the highly-engaged crowd. Matt & Kim thanked everyone for coming out, then, interestingly enough, exited the stage to “Mercy,” the Kayne West/Good Music cut.
It was a night of full-force entertainment and I don’t think anyone left disappointed. Throughout the show Matt & Kim offered their apologies several times for taking so long to come back to Milwaukee. Which is true, I can’t even recall the last time they played a Milwaukee show. Needless to say it was an excellent night of music, and it may be awhile before we see another billing as energized and spirited as the Matt & Kim and Oberhofer pairing.