Late last week, Brooklyn husband-and-wife duo Matt & Kim played a fantastically fun set for the 2011 installment of Rock For Riley. They proved that commercial success hasn’t shaken them from their simple, honest roots.
Local garage punks The Kemps warmed the crowd with their top-notch blend of heavy rock riffs and dirty punk flavoring. More accustomed to house parties and bars, The Kemps did seem a bit out of place on the vast stage. The size of the venue seemed to catch the band off guard as their natural charm and wit seemed diluted by the relatively cavernous proportions of The Vogue. The Kemps are a great band, no doubt, but from the comforts of a bar to the stalactites of The Vogue is a big jump.
After a brief presentation by the Rock For Riley organizers, Matt & Kim raced onstage to their instruments, fists pumping in the air. Drummer Kim Schifino rushed up on her bass drum to prod the crowd into a frenzy. The band “settled down” and kicked what was to be a well-rounded set off with the enthusiastic “Yeah Yeah” from their 2006 debut album.
The band ripped through fan favorites and hits from their short yet brilliant career including the breakthrough singles “Good Ol’Fashion Nightmare” and “Lessons Learned” from their sophomore record Grand. The strongest crowd reaction, however, came when the band played their two freshest singles, “Block After Block” and “Cameras”.
The twosome peppered their set with cute stories and semi-raunchy jokes that tickled the crowds’ fancy. The husband-wife dynamics certainly work well for the band. Their genuine love for each other comes off as open and playful rather than exclusive and helps create a charming, carefree attitude for their live shows.
A fantastic moment came when keyboardist Matt Johnson announced the beginning of “Silver Tiles”. Re-recorded for their most recent album, Sidewalks, the song originally opened their debut demo/EP To/From. Johnson even admitted that the Silver Tiles track was the first song that they had ever written as a band. It was interesting to see so many people dance to a song that originally reached so few.
Rock For Riley is always a high-profile spectacle, with past years including such names as The Avett Bros and Julian Casablancas, but no act delivered the good times quite like Matt & Kim did. Let’s hope that their performance (their first in Indianapolis since playing a house show in 2006) encourages them to come back and play Indianapolis more often.