Last Night: Nodzzz and Matt & Kim; The Gossip After Dark
Matt & Kim
Nodzz and Matt & Kim
The Converse/Kill Your Idols space at the Marcy Building, the Design District, Miami
The Gossip After Dark
Thursday, Dec. 4
Better Than: Anything else you could have been doing for free, without a guest list hassle, last night.
Well, as Basel's getting on, and my brain is scrambled thanks to Converse's free keg and O.H.W.O.W.'s Campari cocktails (oh, I drank them because the tips went to charity!), I'll try to keep this succinct. In a nutshell: Wednesday's free Yelle show demonstrated how an indifferent crowd can make an alright performance seem lackluster. But last night's Matt & Kim show demonstrated how a wildly enthusiastic crowd can turn a slightly above-average performance into a sweaty, ecstatic freak-out.
Fun to explore was the space itself, which features vintage punk rock concert photography and portraits by Eileen Polk -- including large-scale photos of two of my favorites, Johnny Thunders and Wendy O. Williams in their relatively healthier phases.
Flyers, photocopied ephemera, and so on from Bryan Ray Turcotte's extensive collections round out the displays. The walls themselves are papered with reproductions of old flyers, and it's super fun to look around and imagine how awesome the American scene was in the late Seventies to mid-Eighties: Can you imagine a show where the Minutemen and Descendents opened for Black Flag?! There are further displays of original flyer mock-ups (OMG pre-computer cut-and-paste), and a bunch of original set lists -- it's fun to read them and try to identify the bands.
As for the live music itself, well, opening were Nodzzz, from San Francisco. Sure, the sound was a little spotty, the playing was a little sloppy, but the heart displayed by both band and audience was pretty swell -- and that's the essence of punk rock, or something. These guys play fun, scruffy songs, and get extra points for being kind of nerdy-looking, and yelling combatively right back to random hollering obnoxious audience members.
And, oh, Matt & Kim. As obnoxiously cheerful as the Brooklyn duo can seem, they can melt the ice of even the coldest music critic's heart. I have to take issue with Matt's comment at one point that he thought "Nobody is actually from here, right?" Oh, like anybody at a Brooklyn Matt & Kim show is actually natively from Brooklyn? Whatever. Although their sound and instrumentation is spare -- just keyboard and drums -- the pair's energy and coordination ramps things up into a serious party by the second song. By the band's big hit, "Yeah, Yeah" -- which, surprisingly and to their credit, they did not play last -- the musicians themselves became invisible, due to a tight wall of sweaty, dancing bodies packed onstage around them.
By the time I (and much of the crowd from the Kill Your Idols space) arrived at O.H.W.O.W., the Gossip had finished doing their thing pretty much, although there was someone randomly singing an a cappella version of "Bohemian Rhapsody." That was okay, though, as the party itself was still going in full force, and it was fun to check out the (often-scatological) art in the gallery's current group show, It Ain't Fair. My mood also took a further upswing thanks to the free Pink Panther popsicle I scored from the Ice Cream Man, a guy who goes to hip-ish events (I spotted him outside of a few CMJ shows in New York this past October) and gives out ice cream. Yeah, like the Heartschallenger truck, only the proprietor doesn't pretend to be a musician too, and he doesn't have any candy or anything, just ice cream. Watch the temperature when you grab one though -- those things were frosty, and I witnessed someone nearly lose a lip to one of those red-white-and-blue bomb pops.
Personal Bias: I always waver between finding Matt & Kim gratingly cheerful or cheerfully charming, and they usually win me over by the end of their sets.
Random Detail: It really smelled like bike punk in certain parts of the Matt & Kim crowd.
By the Way: Brutal Knights, Hex Dispensers, and Reigning Sound play at the Kill Your Idols space tonight, also for free with no guest list. Yay.
-- Arielle Castillo