Bringing Down the House

No one who attended the sold-out Matt and Kim show at House of Blues on Friday could accuse the performers of lacking energy.

Fang Island opened with a delirious set of upbeat arena rock culled from their acclaimed self-titled debut. Each song was a flurry of church organ synths and Ratatat-style guitars. The band featured a whopping three guitarists, each of whom excelled at math riffs and epic leads. From the anthemic "Illinois" to the rolling rhythms of "Treeton," Fang Island impressed the crowd with their high-octane rock. The sound at House of Blues was ideally suited to the band's full aesthetic, allowing the oftentimes hymnal vocals to soar over the sea of heavy guitars.

Properly warmed up by Fang Island's blitzkrieg set, the all-ages crowd turned to headliners Matt and Kim with wide-eyed attention. Backed by a recording of Notorious B.I.G.'s "Where Brooklyn At," the duo bounded onto the stage as if they were leading a pep rally, then sat down at their respective keyboards and drums. Kim didn't stay seated for long, though. Throughout the set, you could find her standing on her kick drum, running laps around the stage or -- most impressively -- doing a bootie dance while standing on top of several audience members' hands.

Their music was just as energetic, and the duo's trademark combination of frantic drumming and arcade synths never showed signs of fatigue. Their music wasn't the only thing that benefited from their stamina -- Kim's ear-to-ear, unwavering grin rivaled that of Josh Ritter. The amiable two-piece regaled the audience with anecdotes and background information, treating the evening like an episode of VH1 Storytellers.

Egged on by the crowd's affectionate enthusiasm, the duo went on to play what they claimed was their longest set ever. From the catchy "Good Ol' Fashion Nightmare" -- which briefly digressed into a cover of the Shadows' classic "Apache" -- to the closing performance of their hit "Daylight," Matt and Kim kept the mood happy and light, at one point even passing out balloons for the crowd to bat around. With their easy rapport and potent chemistry, the duo had an adorable stage presence, covering Biz Markie's "Just a Friend" and complimenting the crowd members on their sweatiness.

Once Matt and Kim exhausted their 20-song-plus set -- "We've played every song we know!" -- they finally departed, but not before stopping to high-five as many attendees as possible. Like Fang Island before them, Matt and Kim were clearly having a blast and, as a result, so did the audience.

Chris Maroulakos is a writer and managing editor for the San Diego music blog Owl and Bear. Photos by Tashena Burroughs Photography

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