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Concert Review: The Presets

Written by: Carl Johnson, Special to CC2K

ImageAfter a grueling three days of braving the Indio desert heat most would just want to spend the next day relaxing and pouring some Aloe Vera on the sunburn. Well, relaxing for me is making a 40-minute drive into the Inland Empire to hit up a show with one of the bands I missed at the festival. The Australians known as The Presets headlined the all ages venue, The Glasshouse, in Pomona on April 20th, 2009. Opening for the electronic duo would be another duo that has set the blog-o-sphere on fire with a sensual performance at SxSw, The Golden Filter. 

Not much is known about the New York group. They make sure to obscure their faces in all press shots and even go so far as to never list or mention names for each other. This whole hidden identity ruse continued as the band walked on stage.

The female singers face was obscured by chin length, blond bangs. The male on synths was phased out by stage smoke and blinding blue and yellow lights. Even the stage lights would turn off to complete darkness.

In a scene where everyone is trying to stand out, it is interesting to see a group do the opposite and just let the music, not the image speak.

And what did speak to me was the acidy, sex tinted vocals and the thumping goth fuelled electro-beats. The groves they are playing are not going to get you jumping up and waving your glo-stick in the air.

Oh, no. It’s going to help you turn that lady friend of yours on when you feel like getting frisky.

Opening with “Solid Gold” everyone with a date got to dancing a little too close with their special someone, or in some cases someones. It’s hard not so give off the sexual vibe. Especially when the drug induced orgy of dark electronica hits your ears.

They are more than just originators of tunes. In the internet world they are known for their ‘remixes’ (I think they are more covers than a remix though). The large crowd was treated to a special cover of The White Stripes, “The Hardest Button to Button”.

Its hard to describe what they did to this lo-fi garage rock song, other than to simply say them made it sexy, they made it their own. With the song being slowed down it wasn’t until the chorus came in when many realized this was a cover and the crowd went crazy.

This is the moment of highlight and the moment I felt the band finally won over the crowd.

For the headlining act, the band that closed out the Sahara tent on day one of Coachella, The Presets really proved they still had some left in the tank. Even on the end of a tour.

This specific Monday, in Riverside County, was the duo’s last night in North America. And on that last stop they treated the crowd with a set of songs in three movements.

The first half of the set, movement one, was a mix of songs off the current album, “Apocalypso”. Each song effortlessly blended into the next song and even the songs I recognized were vastly changed. The vocals would be changed or new beats would be added in. I wonder if they switch it up each night, or if that’s just how these songs were performed all tour?

I can’t figure it out myself, but judging from the mate’s chemistry onstage, I am sure they switch it up each night. From Kimberly Moyes (drums/programming) hoping off the drums and starting an audience clap, to Julian Hamilton (vocals/synths) throwing the mic into the crowd, everything is more than one would expect from dance-rock/neo-electro group.

While the crowd was digging the first part, everyone started jumping up and down when the act stopped all music and broke into the second half of their set. This second one focusing on different mixes off the album, “Beams”. I don’t know if it was the force from the people moving, or if it was just the thumping bass lines, but the ground was doing some serious shaking.

I found it hard for myself to not join in the jumping when the group transitioned into the song “Down Down Down”.

Yep, I was down for it.

The crowd knew it was getting to noise curfew and the band knew it was time for themselves to go home, but before they went they wanted to leave one last reminder of how hard they can bring it. The band summed this up nicely ending with a rather unique mix of “I Go Hard, I Go Home”.

If you ever get the chance, come see this group bring it…Hard.

The Golden Filter:

The Presets:


Author: Carl Johnson, Special to CC2K

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