Keyboardist Matt Johnson and drummer Kim Schifino seem at first to be a tongue-in-cheek pair - except they're so earnest about having fun.
As Matt & Kim, the duo serve as party-starters, beat-keepers whose only aim is communion.
"Tonight there are 1,202 people in the band," said Johnson on Tuesday from the foot of the stage at the Trocadero. The sweaty, sold-out crowd was happy to be in on the act.
Matt & Kim's lyrics were giddy and simple - lots of "yeah yeah yeah" and "da da da." Their peppy music was bare-bones synth-rock touched by the exquisite sparseness of Daft Punk, only truly daft and way more punk. Johnson's nasal voice was blunt and without finesse. And when Schifino wasn't busy kicking the tar out of her booming bass drum, she was smiling. Never had a musician smiled through an entire show as Schifino did.
The best example of their celebratory, rip-roaring aesthetic was the night's last tune, "Daylight." With its bouncing blips and calls to "cut the legs off of our pants" and throw their shoes into the ocean, "Daylight" was one sweet finale. Covers of Biz Markie's squeaky "Just a Friend" and the slow sugar rush of "Silver Tiles" were equally saccharine.
That's not to say there weren't some dark complications to their chipper stuff.
With its doubled-up drum sound and echo-filled vocal effects, the rockabilly synth sound of "Ready? OK" could easily have been part of Suicide's catalog. The sequencers that filled "Red Paint" made for some grouchy noises, to say nothing of the song's melancholy bridge, reminiscent of the Cure's "Let's Go to Bed." That same mood-swinging brand of melody could be found throughout "Cameras."
Yet no sooner had they let their jokiness slip than they found a way back to sounding bold and bright. "Good Ol' Fashion Nightmare" may have contained the night's grouchiest synthesizers and most ominously driven drum sounds, but it wound up spliced into a cover of Sugarhill Gang's "Apache," complete with the crowd's cat-calls of "jump on it." "Northeast" started slow and held a coolly mournful message in its lyrics but wound up as cymbal-riding four-on-the-floor disco.
How sad can you be after you hear "Apache"?