The Bowery Presents
Passion Pit

Passion Pit

Matt & Kim, Icona Pop

Fri, February 8, 2013

Doors: 7:00 pm / Show: 8:00 pm

Madison Square Garden

New York, NY

$42.50

This event is all ages

Matt & Kim
Matt & Kim
For many bands, making music is all about the routine of recording an annual album, or being able to tour in progressively bigger venues. Not Matt and Kim. “Our goal is to make music we want to hear,” says Matt Johnson, who co-founded the band with Kim Schifino. “When it comes time to make a new album, I’m just so excited, since I know we have all these ideas and I just want to get them out there.” As for the band’s extra-emphatic live shows, which these days happen in large venues, he explains, “We’ve always just really enjoyed playing music, and things have kept growing.”

Matt and Kim’s enthusiasm comes across loud and clear on the band’s new album, Lightning, its most diverse and developed to date. From the relentless drive of “Now” to the dance-fueled beat of “Let’s Go” to the more contemplative “Ten Dollars I Found,” Lightning is the strongest distillation yet of Matt and Kim’s unique sound: a spunky hybrid of indelible songs, an emphatic beat and almost tangible energy, mixed with the duo’s influence of listening nonstop to Top 40 Hip-Hop and pop-punk.

To make the album, Matt and Kim spent six months working in their home studio in Brooklyn, producing the record themselves. Lightning is a touch more minimal than their earlier work – with layers taken away, instead of added, enabling its intense performances and memorable tunes to really come to the forefront. “What’s made the songs on this album really strong is we’ve been able to pull a lot off – to not have so much going on – and still have a strong song,” Kim explains.

“It’s easier to make a song with a lot going on,” Matt adds. “It feels very safe. It’s like putting on a lot of clothes: you feel all covered up so no one can judge just one aspect of it, but when you try to break it down to be as simple as can be, you’re really baring it all. When you can see clearly what’s going on, those are the times that the songs are easiest to connect to.”

Connecting with their audience is certainly a key focus for Matt and Kim. The indie dance duo’s live shows – which are legendary for constant, in-your-face exuberance – feel more like vibrant, sweaty loft parties than traditional concerts, for both audiences and the band. “I think we’ve managed to continue to make them feel intimate,” says Matt. “When we first started playing venues instead of playing on the floor at parties, we tried hard to keep the vibe of ‘we’re all doing this together and having a wild time’ going. The show is not just the two of us: it’s the 3002 of us, or however big the venue is.” Or, as in the words of Rolling Stone: “Matt and Kim’s reputation as a live act precedes them – and justifiably so. Simply put, they are a two-person dynamo, frantic, tightly wound, and full of good cheer. Their performances are as physical as they are musical. . . . For sheer adrenaline-per-second, no other band comes close.”

The band started in 2004, essentially by accident when Matt and Kim were art students at the prestigious Pratt Institute, where they studied film and illustration, respectively. When Kim wanted to learn to play drums and Matt (who’d been in bands before) was getting his head around a new keyboard, the band was born. Since then, they have earned a Gold Record for the upbeat, stick-in-your-head track “Daylight,” played festivals like Coachella, Lollapalooza, and Bonnaroo, along with international festivals like V (U.K), Pukkelpop (Belgium), Fuji (Japan), Big Day Out (Australia), Primavera (Spain), Oya (Norway), SWU (Brazil), as well as hundreds of shows. They have won 3 MTV awards: a Breakthrough Video Music Award and mtvU Best Video Woodie Award for “Lessons Learned”, as well as a 2011 award for Best Live Band. Lightning is the band’s fourth album, following Sidewalks, Grand, and their self-titled debut.

Matt and Kim have always been inspired by Brooklyn’s general urban din as well as the area’s artists, yet Matt points out, “I don’t think a place can define a person. We simply write songs about us and our life so that’s why where we live comes up.”

Indeed, there’s something universal about a song with a beat that grabs you, with a great melody, played by a band that simply loves to play music. And that, in Williamsburg and way beyond, is the key to the universal appeal of Matt and Kim.
Icona Pop
Icona Pop
Aino Jawo and Caroline Hjelt met on a Saturday night in February 2009. It was, Aino says quite reasonably, "the best thing that ever happened".

So the day after the best thing that ever happened happened, these two girls from the Stockholm suburbs formed a electronic pop duo band, and on the Monday – when the hangovers had cleared and it still all seemed like the best thing that had ever happened – they booked their first gig – Icona Pop was born. This felt all very well, but then they realised they had four weeks until their gig, but no songs.

Autumn of 2011, Icona Pop moved from Stockholm to London, and with an album ready to go the tunes are in no short supply. Icona Pop says: "We like galloping drums, and synthesisers, but we still like the classical pop melodies. And that's 'what we are'. We don't have to decide, because there's no decision to be made. We just have to do exactly what we want."

In the intervening years they've working with The Knocks (voted one of NME's hottest production outfits of the hour), Patrik Berger (Robyn), Elof Loelv (Niki & The Dove), Fredrik Berger (The Good Natured) and Style of Eye, as well as sessions with UK producers like Starsmith (Kylie, Ellie Goulding) and Burns. Their Neon Gold-released double a-side single 'Manners' / 'Top Rated' prompted journals like NME and The Guardian say things along the lines of "effortlessly cool" and "all the makings of a 24-carat pop hit", and the duo have perfected their live show, too – that first performance back in 2009 went rather well, all things considered, while their first London gig was impressive enough to bag them a management deal with Artist Company TEN, the team behind Niki & The Dove and Erik Hassle.

There's plenty more of this evocative stuff right across Icona Pop's as-yet-untitled debut album, due out in 2012. Effervescently romantic number 'Sun Goes Down' is a Knocks collaboration written on a trip to New York. "We both had a crush at home," Caroline recalls, "and we were thinking about our lovely men on the other side of the ocean, singing, 'I will be waiting for you until the sun goes down'." The sound of it all is hard to pinpoint, but there are some unmistakeable Madonnaisms on spirited anthem 'Beat The L'.

So that original plan for Caroline to give Aino her best night ever? Well, that night they met in 2009 has since been immortalised in song, on the vivid and joyous 'Nights Like This' Caroline explains, "everything that night was like magic, and the lyric 'nights like this, you will never be alone', is what Icona Pop is all about. It's about being together and having fun, and inviting as many people as possible because the best nights out are the ones you want to share with everyone."

As nights out go, Icona Pop's first must of one of pop's most vital, and it's still in full effect three years later. In fact, it feels like it's just getting going. "We're having so much fun all the time," Aino smiles. "It's kind of scary."
Venue Information:
Madison Square Garden
Four Pennsylvania Plaza
New York, NY, 10001
http://www.thegarden.com/