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Matt and Kim
Hollywood Holt
Skully’s Music Diner
Friday, February 27, 2009

I strolled into Skully’s last night to find a DJ (DJ Skyler from the upcoming act, as I learned later) on stage mixing songs by Santogold and M.I.A. with classics like “It Takes Two” to an enthusiastic crowd of revelers. I arrived about an hour after music was scheduled to begin so I missed local openers Tin Armor, but that’s okay. I’ve seen them a number of times. After ordering a drink and scoping out the scene for a few I made my way upstairs to the balcony bar where I could get an overhead view. Not long after the DJ was joined on stage by two MCs. They did your standard “What’s up Columbus?!?!” crowd pumping routine a bit, then one of the two, donning a flannel shirt and pink-rimmed, ’80s throwback sunglasses asked if anyone knew who he was. By his reckoning about twelve people did. “For those of you that don’t know,” he said, “I’m a sorta famous rapper.”

“Kinda famous,” remarked his right hand man. With that Chicago native Hollywood Holt launched into the first feel-good, party-anthem style rap of his set. As with most rap shows, there was a lot of call and response (MC: I say ____, you say _____! _____! Audience: _____!), but the beats were good, and the rhymes were light-hearted. While I enjoyed the first few numbers, it wasn’t until about the third song that I was really won over.

Hollywood exclaimed “This one goes out to anyone who got here tonight…on two wheels!” and launched into “Throw a Kit,” a song about mopeds (“Hollywood Gettin’ That/Got it from Curt or Pat/Gimme that top tank/Yo I need that/Throw a kit on that bitch/Just bought a Moped!!!”). Anyone that’s been to Chicago in the last few years knows that the city is overrun with mopeds. Hollywood reportedly owns six himself, and is the leader of a Moped gang, of which there are apparently many in Chicago. Columbus is still on a bicycle kick, but I’m all for any sort of lightweight, fuel efficient alternative to automobiles (I rode to the show on two wheels despite freezing temperatures). He went on to elegantly explain a Southside Chicago dance called Jukin’. The dance in question is far less elegant than was the description, I assure you. The rest of the set followed along the same lines and definitely set the tempo for the night.

An intermission lasting a good twenty minutes while a drum kit and keyboard were brought out ended when Kim appeared on stage to applause from the audience. She waved and fiddled with her drums a bit before leaving the stage again. Matt showed himself and went through a similar rundown on his keyboard. He too returned backstage and screens on stage began to flash images which read “Matt and Kim” and “Grand,” the title of their new album. Kim and Matt, now swigging from a bottle of beer, eventually appeared back on stage and took positions behind their instruments and launched into their set.

They played greats like “It’s a Fact,” “Daylight,” and my personal favorite, “Yea Yeah,” and while they were as adorable as one would expect a lovestruck couple to be on stage, if not for having known a good portion of the material and obvious breaks between numbers the whole set could have been one giant song. Anyone in attendance checking Matt and Kim out for the first time might have a hard time appreciating their style with how the music translated live. This is a duo that I really dig, but everything just sounded the same tonight. I’m not sure the large venue brought out the best in them, although they were excited to have such a packed house in a city where their previous gigs were at the Screamer House, one of several local punk/hipster houses.

This is not to say the set wasn’t entertaining. Matt and Kim have a stage relationship that is extremely similar to straight man/funny man routines like that of Penn and Teller, Jay and Silent Bob or even Gil Mantera’s Party Dream where one of the two does all the talking and the other is often ridiculed when they speak up. Kim rarely says a word, which makes sense; she plays the drums while Matt plays the keys and sings, but after finishing a song Kim said something apparently off-kilter into her microphone and Matt said something like, “This is the first time Kim has ever had a microphone on tour and now you know why.” Later, after Kim said something about the Screamer house and threw around some expletives, Matt said, “Sorry, but while Kim has the frame of a ten year old boy, she has the mouth of a sailor.” They also played short covers of popular rap songs between their originals. It was fun to point out Dead Prez and Busta Rhymes getting played by a skinny, white guy from Brooklyn. I enjoyed myself, even if the music was, at times, indistinguishable.

–Luke Toney