Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Presets at the Glass House

The idea of going to see The Presets at the Glass House after three scorching days at Coachella seems crazy. I didn't get a chance to trek down to the Sahara tent that much this year at Coachella but I dragged myself to catch a little bit of the Presets on Friday. The Sahara tent was full despite going up against Paul McCartney and people were dancing in masses.

The Golden Filter

Another reason for checking out this show was the inclusion of The Golden Filter on the bill. I was surprised they didn't land at least an early slot on Coachella as they have been building a bit of buzz with their song "Solid Gold".

Cloaked in darkness and with little front lighting, a breathy female lead vocalist commanded the stage backed by a keyboardist and drummer. The keyboardist was rocking a Moog Prodigy and pumping out arpeggiated synth lines like it was the '80s.

I combed the net to try to find the names of the performers but everything is mysteriously left blank. "Favourite Things" was one of a number of catchy synth driven tunes that had the lyrics changed to include "Pomona" to the delight of the crowd. Their intriguing cover of “The Hardest Button To Button” by the White Stripes took me aback.

I much preferred their original material. "Solid Gold" closed out the evening and it seemed like they really had the crowd moving by the time they finished their set. I also recommend checking out some of their high profile remixes for Little Boots, Peter, Bjorn & John and Cut Copy.

The Presets
I don't hide the fact that The Presets are one of my favorite synthesizer based bands. Ever since I saw The Presets obliterate Spaceland back in 2006, I was instantly a fan. I was lucky enough to interview Kim Moyes back last year just prior to the release of their latest album Apocalypso and document the Australian juggernaut tour of them with Cut Copy at the Glass House in October of last year.

The slow cooking build up of "Talk Like That" got the Glass House shaking early. My level of exhaustion quickly dissipated as the synthesizers started to roar. What immediately impressed me was that The Presets had tweaked and remixed a lot of the songs to keep the audience guessing. "Eucalyptus" was a fury of hard charging synthesizer bass lines. Julian Hamilton (Vocals/Synthesizers) was commanding the front of the stage when he wasn't behind the keyboards frequently shuffling between synthesizers.

Kim Moyes (Drums) was a human drum machine destroying the notion that electronic bands can't perform live. Oscillators screamed for mercy during "A New Sky" with Julian frequently using a vocoder patch on his synthesizer to alter his voice. The Presets effortlessly let the song melt and morph into the pulsating "Girl and The Sea". The Presets brought it down a notch for the instrumental "Aeons" but did not let the crowd rest for that long.

"Are You The One?" evoked the dark moods of Nitzer Ebb as I even found myself moving along to the beat despite my soreness of Coachella. The setlist primarily consisted of material off the new album and I was disappointed they didn't play "Down Down Down" and "Girl (You Chew My Mind Up)". While their set was an action packed hour and twenty minutes, I couldn't help but wish they played a little longer.

Strategically stacking the deck in their favor, The Presets pummeled the audience with a closing triplet of "My People", "Anywhere" and "I Go Hard, I Go Home". The Presets will be heading back down under for a tour of their homeland before hopefully returning to the studio to work on a third album. Despite my exhaustion, I was glad I made the trek out to Pomona, as their music was the perfect comedown to the madness that was Coachella.

The Presets setlist at the Glass House (4/21/09)
"Talk Like That"
"A New Sky"
"Girl And The Sea"
"If I Know You"
"Are You One?"
"This Boy's In Love"
"Kicking And Screaming"
"My People"
"I Go Hard, I Go Home"

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A fantabulous review of the Presets that night Drew! Thanks for hooking me up with the AC on the balcony.