Live Review: The Presets shake Thebarton Theatre to its foundations with Adelaide’s HI VIZ stop

Friday night served as the perfect backdrop for The Presets’ travelling house party Adelaide visit to put their tools down for a night of sweaty beats and purposeful party anthems.

Preceding Julian Hamilton and Kim Moyes’ on-stage antics was the eclectic synth-pop duo Kult Kyss, swaying through their set highlighted by a great cover of Lorde’s “Homemade Dynamite”. Continuing the evening’s electric vibes, Melbourne producer Roland Tings started to work the growing crowd’s sweat up, pulsating a nearly vocal-less 30-minute show, layering increasingly intricate soundscapes en route to the main event.

Presets fans would have been curious about what setlist they could expect from the now four-album Aussie dance veterans, especially in the wake of the strong HI VIZ album. Within moments of the house lights dimming, we all had our answer – a terrific, dancefloor-thumping mix of both.

Immediately conjuring up the audiovisual kaleidoscopic cacophony of HI VIZ, the distorted intro of “Knuckles” echoed around the theatre until the vocal samples and sinister synth-organ of “Talk Like That” paved the way for Hamilton and Moyes to take the spotlight. From then on, Thebby Theatre belonged to The Presets.

Following an early Apocalypso onslaught, the Adelaide crowd was treated to “Martini”, one of the absolute highlights of the latest record. Particularly during the song’s euphoric closing moments, when Hamilton’s dreamy falsetto and piano reverb around the room, and each soul within it. The only downer was that  its follow-up track “Beethoven” was missing from the live show, but there were plenty more highlights to come.

HI VIZ featured prominently during the show’s mid-section, during which singles including the the self proclaimed pub-rock techno jam “Do What You Want”, and the groovy gospel-infused lockout law protest track “Downtown Shutdown” were accompanied by the thumper “Tools Down”. The locals dressed in custom-made hi-vis Presets gear loved this one.

“Feel Alone” mixed perfectly with Beams’  “Girl and the Sea” to create a stunning medley accentuated by vibrantly coloured visuals and Hamilton’s voice cracking with genuine emotion. The feelings certainly didn’t let up with the subdued and stripped-back intro to “This Boy’s in Love”. Again, Hamilton’s beautiful performance drew the crowd in, right up until he and Moyes dropped a wall of sound, playing the full sequence of bass pads and percussion from the second verse onwards.

Arguably the evening’s highlight was what should be the Australian national anthem – “My People”. My goodness, the heritage-listed Thebby Theatre strained to keep its roof intact above the raucous Adelaide crowd. It is immediately obvious the asylum-seeking theme of the theatre-thumping epic still resonates more than ever; the venom and anger in Hamilton’s voice booming through the speakers, especially during the “shot down with all of my people” line to. “Goodness gracious, Adelaide!” was all he could muster to a frenzied, sweat-drenched crowd before launching straight into classic Presets with “Are You the One?”, skipping the chorus until the finale, prompting one hell of a singalong to the titular refrain.

The duo ended the show emphatically with more HI VIZ, namely the arpeggio-laden, Apocalypso-inspired, absolute pain in the arse to type: “14U+14ME”. The absolute rave-stomper of “Until the Dark” – a near seven-minute odyssey of pulverising beats and pounding bass left the theatregoers screaming for more.

And more is what was served.

Moyes, whose role as chief beat-maker often sees him play the sidekick to the magnetic Hamilton’s vocal presence, returned to the stage first. During the night, when he wasn’t commanding the drumkit and countless sample pads to do his bidding, Moyes acted as his counterpart’s hype man. Prancing around on stage replete in a jumpsuit and neon pink wig ensemble, he absorbed the crowd’s energy and threw it right back at them, partying just as hard as anyone in the room.

When Hamilton returned to the stage, the duo officially closed the night with “Anywhere”. An odd choice to finish on after the incredible energy “Until the Dark” generated, but more music was welcome nevertheless.

Drawing from each album before their current LP, The Presets nailed a career-spanning mix of emotionally-charged dance tracks, and delivered on their promise of HI VIZ delivering an acid-soaked circle jerk of rave nuggets, cyber croons and pub techno.

Hamilton noted during the night it had been a while since they last performed in Adelaide. With performances like Friday night’s, they’re welcome back anytime, preferably soon – once Thebby Theatre’s shaken foundations have been repaired.

THE PRESETS SET LIST

Knuckles (Intro)
Talk Like That
Eucalyptus
Martini
Ghosts
Do What You Want
Downtown Shutdown
Tools Down
Feel Alone/Girl and The Sea (Medley)
This Boy’s in Love
I Go Hard I Go Home
Youth in Trouble
My People
Are You The One?
Together
Are You Here?
14U+14ME
Until the Dark

ENCORE
Anywhere

The reviewer attended this show on June 15th.