By Thomas Infante
He had hardly heard of Matt and Kim until the indie pop duo came to the College on Friday, Nov. 4. Midway through the concert, however, the student found himself in the center of the crowd, being tossed around a mosh pit while waving an inflatable naked doll that was thrown into the pit by the high-energy, hyper-sexual artists onstage.
The student, Corey Alicea, a junior communication studies major, told The Signal simply: “It was pretty badass!”
The College Union Board’s (CUB) 2016 Fall Concert was exhilarating and featured pounding bass with lively electronic beats from headliners Matt and Kim. Matt Johnson and Kim Schifino have been making music as Matt and Kim since 2004 and have five albums, including April 2015’s “New Glow.” The duo — known for exciting, lively performances — performed in the Recreation Center under multicolored spotlights after indie rock bands Smallpools and Bad Suns opened the show and set the stage for a night of catchy, danceable tunes.
Matt and Kim stood side-by-side onstage and jammed on a keyboard and drums, respectively. The duo’s performance began with a series of heavy brass notes before a recorded voice yelled, “Get the fuck up!” The music transitioned into “It’s Alright,” during which Matt threw water onto an ecstatic audience. With a giant Venn diagram combined with imagery of explosions projected behind him, Matt and Kim had the audience’s undivided attention.
After a quick-fix technical difficulty, the show was underway.
“Lately, all of our shows have had some kind of issue,” Kim said to the audience. “Some piece of technology always fucks up, but it just makes the show even crazier.”
The duo launched into “Block After Block,” during which Kim stood atop her bass drum while she pounded on it.
After the song, Matt shared a personal story about the College.
“Not only did my mom graduate from TCNJ, but my grandparents also met at this school,” Matt said. “So by my reasoning, if it weren’t for this college, I wouldn’t exist.”
He told the audience that in order to properly dance to the next song, they would need to use “the bounce that comes from deep within your crotch.” The raunchiness would only escalate as the concert progressed.
During “Cameras,” Matt threw balloons into the audience and instructed the students to inflate them and throw them into the air. The result was oddly captivating — the duo transitioned to the song “Now” while hundreds of balloons filled the air and colorful lights pulsated to the beat of the music.
As well as original music, Matt and Kim frequently broke into melodies of popular songs, but rearranged it to better fit the duo’s indie pop, electronic style. Examples included “Umbrella” by Rihanna, “Thunderstruck” by AC/DC and “Jump” by Van Halen. The samples added some musical diversity to the performance, which kept the audience on their toes — literally and figuratively.
After a bass-heavy performance of “Get It,” Matt handed a large parachute out to cover the audience before the duo continued into “Make a Mess.”
“There are no rules under the parachute,” Kim yelled to the crowd. The parachute covered a large majority of the audience, and those crammed underneath had to use their phones to find their way in the mass of dancing bodies.
Later, the band played “Please No More” — the fastest song of the night, according to Matt.
“Now is the time to get rid of all your frustration,” he said to the eager audience. Once the song began, some students formed a circular mosh pit, into which Matt threw several inflatable naked dolls.
“The crowd shifted from lighthearted fun to really hardcore and intense,” Alicea said as he recalled how he shoved his way into the center of the crowd to throw himself in the pit. “It was like controlled chaos. Everyone was cool, no one was getting violent. It was just a bunch of people tossing each other around right in front of the stage.”
After the moshing ceased, Matt and Kim instructed the audience to form a bridge with the palms of their hands. Kim proceeded to walk out onto the crowd and twerk on top of them, but not before warning the audience that any phones she saw would be dropped down her pants.
She kept her promise. As she danced above them, Kim stole a student’s phone and put it down the front of her pants while the crowd screamed in delight. The student got their phone back, though.
During the finale, “Daylight,” the audience united to sing the entire song, as students danced, jumped and flailed around while a beach ball bigger than a car bounced overhead.
After “Daylight,” Matt and Kim thanked the College “for being awesome” and dropped “Prison Riot” by Flosstradamus. Another mosh pit ensued.
Before Matt and Kim took the stage, indie pop rock band Smallpools opened. The group has been extensively touring since the release of its debut album “LOVETAP” in March 2015.
The band comprises vocalist and keyboardist Sean Scanlon, guitarist Mike Kamerman, bassist Joseph Intile and drummer Beau Kuther. Together, they brought a charismatic and engaging performance to the College.
“This guy’s from your state!” Scanlon shouted while pointing at Kamerman, who briefly stopped playing his crimson Les Paul to wave to the audience. Kamerman hails from Marlboro, N.J., but the rest of the band grew up in other states.
In a pre-show interview with The Signal, Smallpools discussed its origins.
“We met while we were playing in two separate bands that kind of crashed and burned at the same time,” Scanlon said of himself and Kamerman. “We moved to L.A. to take advantage of the music scene there.”
From there, they met West Coast natives Intile and Kuther, and by 2013, the band had a hit with the release of “Dreaming,” which grew immensely in popularity after New York EDM duo The Chainsmokers remixed the song.
The Smallpools setlist featured highlights from the band’s relatively small catalog of songs, but the musicianship was powerful and enthusiastic, with upbeat songs such as “Over and Over,” “Mason Jar” and “American Love” dominating the set. In the middle of the concert, the band left Kuther onstage alone, who smiled from ear to ear as he pounded a furious drum solo over the Jack Ü (Skrillex and Diplo) and Justin Bieber collaboration, “Where Are Ü Now.”
As the band’s set neared its close, Scanlon recalled a story regarding the origin of their song “Killer Whale.”
“We used to search our band’s name on the internet to see what people were saying about us,” Scanlon said. “We would find these posts on internet forums about how horrible it is to keep killer whales captive in small pools.” During the performance of the song, Smallpools threw a giant inflatable whale into the crowd, which attempted to keep it afloat. The band ended the set, of course, with “Dreaming.”
The first band to take the stage was Bad Suns, a California-based band comprising vocalist and rhythm guitarist Christo Bowen, bassist Gavin Bennett, lead guitarist Ray Libby and drummer Miles Morris. Bad Suns sounded tight and focused, and most songs proved to be as good live as they are in recordings.
The quartet, with matching jet-black hair, played a collection of songs from its album “Disappear Here,” as well as the band’s 2014 debut release, “Language & Perspective.” Their set was full of bright guitar riffs and groovy percussion. The band ended the setlist with the breakout hit “Cardiac Arrest.”