Photos: Matt and Kim @ The Pageant | 05.08.15

 (Bryan Sutter)

Hot off the release of their album New Glow, the Brooklyn-based duo Matt and Kim took the party vibe to a thousand hundo with a sold-out show at The Pageant in St. Louis on May 8th, 2015.

 (Bryan Sutter)

Matt and Kim have to be one of the most-photographed bands of the last five years. Their live shows have become, more or less, legendary for their high energy and crowd engagement. The first time I photographed Matt and Kim, it was at Off Broadway here in St. Louis in 2009. Off Broadway can hold about 400-450 individuals if it’s a polite indie show. It was my first summer shooting live music and I was incredibly stoked about photographing them, having fallen in love with their record Grand, for which I had written a slightly cringeworthy, but overwhelmingly positive review for PLAYBACK:stl earlier in the year. In one of the rare instances of a band blowing up before playing St. Louis, while touring in support of a breakout album, the show ended up being oversold, and resulted in being the sort of insanely crowded affair where I walked away with very few usable photos but plenty of bruises and scraps on my legs from being knocked into the front of the stage.

 (Bryan Sutter)

To put things in perspective: I’ve photographed thousands of shows, from Miley Cyrus in a hockey arena to hardcore bands thrashing away in moldy, dirt-floored basements. The crowd at Matt and Kim’s set at Off Broadway on August 23rd, 2009 still ranks as perhaps the most intense and aggressive collection of individuals I’ve ever encountered while photographing live music. It is the gold standard by which I judge all shows that can be classified as wild and/or crazy.

 (Bryan Sutter)

I suppose what I found most surprising about this performance was that I felt that same energy radiating from Matt Johnson and Kim Schifino as they banged away on songs like “Hoodie On” and “Cameras” from a drum riser pushed to the lip of the Pageant stage as I did back at that surreal night at Off Broadway, but without everyone being crammed in a small space, it actually came off as a real good time. Between songs proper, Matt would cue up an instrumental from a popular R&B or hip-hop song, which typically moved into the duo dancing or hyping up the crowd by telling them how the rules were going to change for the next song, (“Ladies, get on someone’s shoulders!”, “Try to bounce the balloons to the balcony!”) which never failed to keep the crowd engaged.

 (Bryan Sutter)

Of course, what made this all real exciting for me was that photographers were allowed to shoot the first three songs from Matt and Kim’s set from behind the security barricade, and shoot from anywhere in the house for the rest of their performance. This was excellent because shooting behind the barricade sometimes felt like too harsh of an angle with how close they were positioned to the stage and, honestly, most of the time, the first three songs don’t allow the average music photographer to really capture the essence of a band’s performance. But here, I could shoot from various angles and sufficiently document the great interactions between the duo and and the crowd. I wouldn’t have captured the photo above of Kim swag surfing over the crowd during the end of the night had I not been allowed this unfortunately-rare freedom. Also, knowing that I had their whole performance to photograph allowed me to take my time and put a little more thought into what I was doing. I definitely felt much more comfortable with my Fujifilm XT-1 at the end of the night than I did while documenting Wilco in the same room earlier in the week.

Hell, I’ll go as far as to say it was the most fun I’ve had shooting in The Pageant in many, many years.

See more photos from Matt and Kim’s performance at The Pageant by clicking here or by checking out the gallery below.

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