The Presets host raucous dance party at Paradise

A review of The Presets at the Paradise Rock Club on April 4, 2009

, Staff Writer

I have to admit, I went into The Presets show at the Pardise on Saturday with fairly low expectations. The studio recordings I’d heard barely elevated the band past The Killers (maybe a little heavier, but ultimately pretty similar), and about four years removed from them, too. I ended up eating my words, if not damn near choking on them. Not only did The Presets simply turned the Paradise into a loud, thumping dance club, but the performance was, of their own accord, hands down one of their best ever.

The group stuck largely to cuts from Apocalypso, released last year to fairly wide acclaim. Ultimately, The Presets are heavy house music with touches of punk thrown in and accentuated by Julian Hamilton’s vocals. The Paradise doesn’t usually feature particularly notable lighting, but this fact clearly did not stop the two from putting on as impressive a light show as the venue would allow. Devilish red light flared up from below the band at their more intense moments, and large collections of lights flashed brightly to the beat, creating an environment much like a dance club. The audience as a whole seemed to be in agreement, and embraced the two Australians, along with every note that poured out of their speakers: this was an audience completely in sync with one another, as well as the performers. It was really quite a sight, and one of the better audiences I have been a part of. The room was filled with fans who knew every song as the band emerged from their transitional sections and rode the sonic waves all the way through to the very end.

“Are You The One?”, an early single, was particularly well-received, featuring a driving, menacing, distorted bass-line on which Hamilton repeats the title over and over while synthesizers built up to an uncannily high breaking point. The Presets have really got the art of the build-up figured out: they keep things engaging enough so listeners never quite check out, all the while providing an underlying feeling that things were constantly on the verge of just exploding.

Apocalypso is not an album short of singles (five of eleven original tracks are now singles), so there was plenty of music to please the audience with. “This Boy’s In Love” had more of an 80’s feel than a lot of the band’s other cuts, a slightly slower tempo that let the group show off their dense palate of sound with reverberating pianos, harmonizing synthesizers, and the usual driving beat. Right before the group launched into their finale of “My People”, which sent the audience into a fever pitch, Hamilton played a lengthy solo on this cool Ondes Martenot thing, basically using his fingers to slide up and down pitches on a keyless synthesizer.

The Presets saved their biggest bang for the end, and those in attendance were definitely aware of this, everyone just melding into the music and moving collectively to the sound. It was really a treat to experience this band with so many fans, and definitely bolstered what was already a high-energy and relentless set. “Every now and then,” Hamilton said after the set, “we do a show that reminds us why we do this, and tonight was one of those shows.” The moment was heartening and surely made proud those who showed up to support their band. It sounds like The Presets left Boston with some very fond memories of their time here, and hopefully they’ll bring those memories to their next performance in town, if Saturday’s performance can possibly be topped.

Opening for The Presets was New York-based disco outfit The Golden Filters, who have been picking up some steam since performing at SXSW. The group is vaguely reminiscent of Blondie, particularly the mysterious female singer, whose face was covered by blond hair that fell in front of it most of the time (a quick romp through their MySpace shows exactly zero shots of anybody’s face). Clearly they are a band that likes to remain elusive, though it does add to their admittedly very sexy musical persona.

A particularly good song of theirs was “Solid Gold”, probably their best known song, which really let the singer show off her airy, come-hither style of singing. The Golden Filters did a great job playing music that was related to, but not too similar to, the band for which they were opening, while at the same time making enough of an impression to be memorable on their own. This is a band to definitely look out for in the future. People love dancing and people love throwbacks, people love mystery and people love sex, so The Golden Filters seem pretty poised to devastate the charts in some time.

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