It's hard to have a song in a Verizon commercial but still come off to the public as down-to-earth, but Brooklyn-based indie-pop duo Matt and Kim finds a way.
Naturally, part of it is carefully crafted public image, forged at the cost of thousands of dollars and hours of meetings with PR specialists, but a bigger part of it is that Matt Johnson and Kim Schifino are actually that real.
Not only do the duo form one of the most electrifying live acts in the world, they also are, when it comes to fan interaction, possibly the most engaging musical performers on the road today.
From Schifino's signature booty dance performed while standing on the outstretched hands of fans to the band's recent crowdsourced music video for "Can You Blame Me," the third single off New Glow, Matt and Kim always has been a standout when it comes to engaging fans.
The twosome even took the time to reach out to some of their biggest Phoenix supporters in February 2014, when they donated $1,000 to the Trunk Space's campaign to purchase an air conditioner.
"When we first started going on tour, we would play people's basements and living rooms and art spaces and warehouses and all kinds of things. Our first two or three shows in the Phoenix area were at Trunk Space, and they were always so kind and cool and awesome there," Johnson says. "I remember the air conditioning ran air through a cold wet something. I don't know how it works, but our shows are known for people jumping around and dancing, and it definitely got hot and sweaty at the Trunk Space. When we saw that the space is still happening and were updating, the least we could do was give something back."
Trunk Space isn't the only Phoenix venue with a special place in the heart of Matt and Kim. Though the Marquee Theatre may not evoke the same communal vibe as the Trunk Space, it still has played host to enough great Matt and Kim shows that, according to Johnson, "about 30 percent" of the show footage used in the recent video for "Get It" was taken from Marquee shows.
That's not an official calculation, but the point is that Matt and Kim brings it out of Phoenix, and Phoenix brings it out of Matt and Kim. "There's something about how hungry people are in general in Phoenix. It gets wild there," Johnson says.
Any Matt and Kim fan knows it gets wild anywhere the two-piece dance band sets up and plays. The music videos are fun and creative, and the albums are always upbeat, but the live performance is far and away the thunder-pop duo's strongest suit and overall focus.
"We can't get all the stuff we do on a recording," Johnson says. "I call myself a songwriter and an entertainer. Musician fits somewhere in there, but it's not at the top. What we do is so much about the energy. It's about what's happening, and musical perfection has never been part of it and it never will be . . . We enjoy what we do. We smile and have fun, and the haters be, like, 'Smiling all the time -- what do they have to be so happy about?' and I'm, like, are you really hating on smiling right now?"
With , Johnson says he feels the group finally has captured some of the essence of its live performance, pointing out "Hey Now" as a track that really highlights everything that Matt and Kim does.
But no matter how good one of the duo's recordings may be, "It's about the energy and the songs. That's what makes Matt and Kim Matt and Kim."
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