The headlining portion of Spring Fling’s festivities began with a tight, remarkably clean and typically exultant set by Matt & Kim, a drum and keys duo from Brooklyn. Attendance swelled in the minutes before they took the stage, but such a reception is expected for performers possessed of their combination of adroitness with new wave hooks, adorable “quirkiness” and Internet exposure. All in all, they admirably passed the litmus test for any bacchanal like our own Fling: Audience energy peaked amid Matt & Kim’s blaring synths, nasal vocals and simple, effective drumming, and Old Campus was promptly turned into a muddy, muddled dancefloor.
The duo stuck almost exclusively to songs from their first full-length effort, despite their recent exploration of (comparatively) down-tempo songwriting in last year’s album “Grand.” This played to their strengths, as most songs began with droning bass lines and Kim Schifino’s caveman drumming, before Matt Johnson’s right-hand melody and singing jauntily led the song in either an anthemic or simply catchy direction. The former case was most exuberantly illustrated by the collective sing-along to “Yea Yeah,” off “Matt & Kim” (2006).
Said Matt: “I need you guys to help me with this one … The lyrics are seriously just, ‘Yeah-yeah, yeah-yeah, yeah yeah yeah.’ ” Alternating drum fills and keyboard bridges allowed first Matt, then Kim, to leap from their seats and gesture spastically, eliciting at least one instance of crowd-surfing from an intrepid (or hapless) member of the audience.
The performance was admittedly repetitive, but Matt & Kim are essentially a party band, and they broke up their set with short renditions of dance classics. Every other song was punctuated by a few bars of songs such as The Sugarhill Gang’s “Apache,” Alice Deejay’s “Better off Alone” or Dead Prez’s “Hip Hop.” The final two songs were even announced by the keyboard-bombast of “The Final Countdown.” Unlike the performers to follow, Matt & Kim attempted to establish an amicable closeness with the audience, and even if they didn’t genuinely break the performer-audience divide, at least the gesture suited their DIY roots. Near the end of the set, Matt shouted, “I’ll be front and center with you guys to see Ying Yang Twins!” and Kim responded with a quasi-feminist (stretch your imagination) take on Ying Yang Twins’ most well-known lyric: “Hey boy, wait till you see my lips!” (Though it must be said that this occurred after an interlude where Kim demonstrated her rump-shaking prowess to the audience.)
Matt & Kim closed out the set with their fittingly sunny new single “Daylight.” They were themselves a fittingly sunny prelude to the night’s festivities, their performance without an energetic equal at Spring Fling.