Obsession and stage presence: on set with The Preatures

by Samuel Hernandez

Obsession and stage presence. If you had seen the Pixies in concert, original lineup, before large scale fame, would it have been transcendental or an empty hipster tag, “I saw them before…”?

Australia’s The Preatures are contagious throwbacks, crafting rock and roll sensibility with internet age swagger and Isabella Manfredi is largely responsible. Their shows are broken guitar strings – at Mercury Lounge in New York City this happened twice – after one broken guitar string by the rhythm guitarist/singer and a chunky interlude to get a replacement, a solo in their new single “Better Than It Ever Could Be,” broke another, prompting the guitarist to play through. Their shows are Isabella in your face, standing on the stage abutment and peering deeply into your soul while you try to sing along. That’s the charm of course, of seeing a band careening towards success, making music and entertainment that is purely about their own passion for music and stage presence.

Because she pours water over her head while wearing tights and spandex or because the entire band throws themselves so energetically into the proceedings the show sold out quickly. People showed up early, people pushed to be close to the stage, photographers eagerly snapped shots of the lead singer walking about the stage.

The Preatures are dipping into a rhythmic and danceable country style 1950’s rock. It’s an approximation of rockabilly without the southern roots. When the male vocals are present, an aspect that seems to be slipping from the band, you get a breathy smooth front man. On stage they work together by nodding to each other and making that soon to be trademark Isabella Manfredi eye contact or forcing their heads to be crammed together while another guitar string bends to its limit and then snaps.

The Preatures are special, in their enthusiastic live show and their carefully produced EPs, and seeing them perform – once, twice, and on – is more than just a hipster gloating game. Each concert is a transcendental piece of rock and roll, hopefully a foundational moment of band history.

The band wraps up their US tour by heading to SXSW.