The Presets Will Violate Your Gummy Bears, Melt Your Face

11/17/2014

The weekend came early for a primed Warfield crowd Thursday night, as award winning Australian dance band, The Presets, added to the long list of fiery performers to hit the storied downtown theater.

The electric duo of Julian Hamilton and Kim Moyes have acquired a pretty well deserved reputation for producing monster light shows, and Thursday night was no exception. The show started with their guilt-ridden party anthem “Push,” as three sets of spotlights shot upwards, frozen in a light dusting of smoke.  Alas, this calm lasted mere seconds as the lights began a calculated flicker, zipping downwards, locking onto the two men at work and sending throngs of hands into the air.

A Presets show takes you from yelling from a mountaintop with tracks like “Ghosts,” and then plummets you to a dank basement – where you just want curl up into a ball – with numbers like “Youth in Trouble.” It’s an intense night filled with disco influenced synth-beats, raw exclamatory vocals, and crushing, unforgiving synth-bass. Did I mention lethal doses of bass? Yeah, let’s just say I hope that the Warfield’s recent renovations included seismic retrofitting, because vibrations of that magnitude have been known to topple cities.

It’s all about the build up, and Hamilton and Moyes are masters of it.  As they performed their third song of the set, “This Boy’s in Love,” the rest of their face-melting machine came online. The cluster of three large hexagons mounted to the front of each battle station, which previously lay dormant, suddenly sprung into action, signaling us like the mother ship from Close Encounters of the Third Kind. From there, things really took off. Columns of smaller hexagons hanging behind the duo began popping off as spotlights of all colors combed through the old Vaudeville Theater. These simple, six-sided hotplates provided the boys with a surprising amount of agility during their performance. They could mimic a blinding electrical current running up a Tesla Coil, engulf the stage in blazing red flames, and generally inflict sensory overload with limitless combinations of colors and patterns.

Near the midway point of the show, tragedy struck. One of the three or four glowing, oversized gummy bears that had been surfing the crowd was snatched up by Hamilton and brought up on stage where he engaged in a Mick Jagger-esque dance with the unsuspecting cub. The magic was short lived, however, as Hamilton tossed his dance partner back onto the dance floor where it made a crash landing. The show went on, but the vocalist gave a heartfelt apology upon returning for their first encore admitting, “I feel really bad, I think I really fucked that guy’s bear up.” He followed his apology with some of the best standup the Warfield has ever seen, claiming he “didn’t know you could break a bear from San Francisco that easily.” Moyes missed a great opportunity to punctuate that gem with a solid rimshot.

UPDATE: I’ve confirmed with the gummy bear’s owner, a bearded man sporting bleach white spectacles, that it was indeed his lemon-lime friend who was involved in the incident, but that no one was hurt. The bear could not be reached for comment.