Matt and Kim, The Brian Jonestown Massacre September 15, 2007 Monolith Festival, Red Rocks
Taking the stage with huge smiles on their faces, Matt and Kim sat down to their drums and keyboards and started their Monolith set on Saturday with a fuzzy, spacey synth intro that Matt milked for laugh, aping a prog rock band that would have taken themselves much more seriously. Then Kim came in on drums and they thrashed out what could have been an extended lead-in to any of the Brooklyn duo's songs before stopping abruptly and laughing into the mics.
“Kim, I can't even believe we're here,” Matt said with what could not be mistaken for theatrical reverence for being alive at that moment. “We were in Vegas this morning, and then our flight got delayed, and then our bags disappeared and then we got lost, and then we got here and there was just enough time to load in and ... holy shit now we're on stage! Hi, I'm Matt and this is Kim. We're a band called Matt and Kim.”
Rock stars can so often be aloof. They can be assholes, unappreciative of the fact that they get to play music for people who not only love their art, but who will pay them to perform it. So when a band like Matt and Kim takes the stage with this much child-like wonder, audience members can't be blamed for wondering if cocaine might be involved. But the rumblings I heard were quickly shut out when Matt and Kim launched into their tune “Yeah, Yeah.” It's pretty easy to get it after that. They play happy music that makes people as happy as they seem to be. Nothing gets lost in translation because there isn't a lot there to begin with.
“Holy shit Kim, did you see that?” Matt asked between songs, staring west and squinting in the sunshine. A stage tech brought the band beers and they laughed and toasted each other and laughed again and smiled. “The sun came out while we were playing that song and ... Oh my God, I can't believe this. This is incredible. Our friends told us this was the best venue in the country, but holy shit. Kim, maybe we didn't make it. Maybe our plane crashed. Maybe this is show heaven.”
Rinse. Repeat. Another few songs so packed with energy and joy, the audience at the New Belgian stage at the top of the venue had no choice but to give themselves over to the energy.
“Kim, stand up and look at this,” said Matt, standing up on his chair and staring out toward Denver. “This is all so confusing right now. We've never done anything like this, ever. Oh my God guys this is incredible. Thank you all so much, we will never, ever forget this.”
And then the set was done, but nobody seemed eager to leave. They cheered for more, though there was no hope of an extended set. Nothing could ruin this vibe.
And then there was Anton. When are people going to stop giving Anton Newcombe of the Brian Jonestown Massacre money and an audience. The live shows are fabled disasters where Anton is a circus animal and the rest of us are there to watch his inevitable meltdown. I sat down as the band was tuning and Anton took turns berating his band and the crowd.
“You, give me a D. A fucking D, how fucking hard is that? Just one of you, give me a fucking D. Good. Now you, give me a fucking D,” Anton directed at his band before turning to the crowd. “Will you shut the fuck up. Shut up. Shut up! Shut up and then we'll tune and then we'll play for you.”
No D, Anton. Just an FU.
Critic's Notebook: Personal Bias: Fuck Anton Newcombe. Random Detail: For a festival that tried hard to brand itself as one of the “greenest” ever, there was a surprising dearth of trash cans and recycling bins. By the Way: Monolith is a total misnomer. There are are at least two huge rocks that make up the Red Rocks venue.