The Presets @ Festival Hall, Melbourne (19/5/09)

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One listen to The Presets and it’s rather easy to see why they are Australia’s latest musical darlings. But it’s their live shows that really see them enter a league of their own. With the stage bearing Dan Flavin-esque light sculptures and installations, the scene was set for a rocking fusion of art and music.

The Sydney-based duo of Kim Moyes and Julian Hamilton have had a devoted following since the release of their 2005 debut album Beams, but it’s their second album, Apocalypso, that has seen them catapulted them to a new level of popularity.

Opening the first of three sold-out nights at Festival Hall with Talk Like That and Yippiyo-Ay, it was clear this was going to be a rather special performance. Keeping the energy up with tracks including Are You The One, the guys did fall into a little self-indulgent period of experimentation that saw the crowd a little confused.

Speaking of fans, as I’ve never been to a Presets gig before, I had no idea they had that many followers. And they were to dance. Obvious favourites saw the crowd erupt, a sea of arms flailing as the bass kicked in and the almost schizophrenic lights took on a life of their own. The crowd was an interesting mix, but one of the things that struck me was the amount of footy-heads. I guess I assumed The Presets would garner a more disco/club like crowd, but the brawny footy boys were out for a good time. And yes, there were quite a few shirts off. And it wasn’t that hot inside Festival Hall.

I know a lot of punters have a bit of a beef with Festival Hall as a venue, but I think it’s rad, and couldn’t have thought of a better venue to hold the 3000+ audience and still have an intimate feel to the show.

The Presets’ German and Detroit techno/electro influences were clear: with the spirit of groups such as Kraftwerk and Tangerine Dream present in both their recordings and live shows. Jumping from drums to keys to xylophone to microphones and back again, their stage presence was a mix of Euro-inspired restraint and wild, arms flying about in pure mayhem.

I think one of The Presets’ great successes is not just their phenomenal musical talents – both Moyes and Hamilton are classical trained musicians – but also the fact that their music is, quite simply, fun; poppy, synthy, rocky, electro-infused fun. And they’re not ashamed of it. Closing the set with the holy trinity of This Boy’s In Love, Kicking And Screaming and My People, to an elated crowd, it’s very clear to see that these boys have got one big, bright future.

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