Live Review: Oberhofer, Matt & Kim; an election postscript (in the column); Cheap Girls, Toadies, Helmet tonight…
by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com
The youth of America came out in droves last night… to vote for Matt & Kim at The Slowdown.
Ah, now how cheesy does that sound? Judging by their age, I’d say a large portion of the sold-out crowd wasn’t even old enough to vote yesterday. Needless to say, between sets I huddled in the back of the bar under a large flat-panel TV that glowed with election returns via MSNBC. There was Chris and Rachel and crazy ol’ Ed looking down at us, broadly smiling as the numbers kept rolling in for Obama. I’d like to tell you that I was standing in a crowd, but there were only a handful of other poli-junkies watching the returns.
Actually, who needs a TV to track an election when you’ve got an iPhone dialed into Huffington Post?
As for the concert, first up was Oberhofer, a randy five-piece from Brooklyn who fall into that playful, high-energy youth-indie category dominated by bands like Vampire Weekend, Islands and Shout Out Louds. Like them they play frenzied up-rhythm music with bright vocals and indistinguishable melodies that get lost in the sound and beat. Frontman Brad Oberhofer riddles every song with a lot of bird-call “oooo’s” (in fact, the band’s first single was called “o0Oo0OoO”) as well as high-kick histrionics — distinguishing factors, along with the music’s unpredictable drops that kept things interesting. The more you watched, the more interesting (and better) they got. “We’re not a band with a big stage or a big light show, we just love to play,” sayeth the frontman. Oberhofer is the perfect band to play at the coolest high school prom in the world.
The whole time I was watching and listening, I tapped my iPhone for election updates, watching numbers slowly climb. Right before Matt & Kim, MSNBC called the election for Obama. A small clutch of girls yelled and pointed at the TV screen and hugged each other, it was like Christmas in November.
So how did Matt & Kim get so friggin’ big? Two years ago they were playing The Waiting Room with Honey & Darling. Now they’re selling out Slowdown’s big room. Why? Yeah, I know they’re good, but what makes one band sell out a room quick while another one limps along? I do not know. I asked a high-powered music exec in the crowd and he told me that Matt & Kim’s popularity had everything to do with the couple’s rep for putting on over-the-top high-energy shows. Judging by the first song, I got what he was talking about.
Matt Johnson plays keyboards while his “partner in crime” Kim Schifino plays drums (seated, standing, climbing atop the set). The second they ran on stage they were INTO IT, attacking the young crowd to get them cranked to their red-line-on-crack energy level. Big lights, big sound, big fun dance music. Matt looked and sounded like a young, hyperactive Ben Folds as he crooned one pop nugget after another. But it was Kim that mesmerized, playing big-beat rhythms from somewhere on top of the world while the entire audience bounced with their hands in the air. Ah, to be young again…
But after four songs I hit the door hoping to make it home in time to watch Obama’s acceptance speech…
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Speaking of the election, this week’s column is a post-script on last night’s election results written yesterday morning for reasons that were beyond my control. You can read it in this week’s issue of The Reader or online right here. I usually post this on Thursday, but it will seem a little more “fresh” coming the morning after.
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Tonight it’s back down to Slowdown (Jr.) for red hot indie Lansing band Cheap Girls (think Replacements if they were from Denton) with The Front Bottoms and The Thunderbolts. $10, 9 p.m.
If you’re hankerin’ for some more-agressive shit, The Toadies are playing tonight at The Waiting Room with ’90s phenoms Helmet (who remembers Meantime from ’92?) and metal-pop band Ume. $20, 8 p.m.
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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2012 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.