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The Presets live in Toronto


photography: Marcin Barciak

Julian Hamilton and Kim Moyes, aka The Presets, may have been quiet for four years but they have recently embarked on their fourth North American Tour with a long-awaited new album, Pacifica.

This is the album The Presets presented as a venture into “uncharted musical territories”. Having done quite well in Australia (#3 album) and creeping up to #2 best album on iTunes charts as well as earning multiple band awards over the past few years Pacifica comes with high expectations.

Having listened to the new album before the live show at the Danforth Music Hall a new set of expectations started forming. Curiosity. Four years is a long time. Four years seems like enough time to not only write a new album but also  to reinvent yourself. And so they did.

A stage fully decorated with equipment,  multiple digital screens and thrusting strobe lights is a sign of an upcoming dance show.  Warmed up by YACHT’s contagious energy, a small part of the crowd turned into a mini mosh pit nearing the opening set and the room finally filled with warm bodies. Seemed like a good start.

And then came The Presets. These are the men who brought to you “Cookie” in 2004 and “Kicking and Screaming” in 2007; dark, aggressive, ghostly music that shakes you up one bone at a time into limbic dancing. These are now the men who produced “Promises” and such. Although ‘Youth In Trouble’ has a bit of the dangerous Presets foundation, the rest of the album picks up on the current pop culture trends. These are the new, less adventurous, more pop-y, safer Presets.  Pacifica seems like a rebirth of The Presets out of the dark rhythmic music and into the sparkle and rainbow, clap-along kind of stuff.

This is not to say that the show was terrible. It was a fantastic show for those who are into the new wave of sounds that The Presets are producing, it was great for the half of the room who were there on the promises of Pacifica. Those who are into the classic Presets had their share closer to the end when Hamilton and Moyes broke into “Pretty Little Eyes” – that was the moment when the concert hall really came together in synced, hyped dancing.

If we had to give this show a rating we’d give stars for the strobe lights, and a star for the glittery jacket, it was kind of hot, we’d also give them a star for the effort and a star for “Push”. The rest of the stars, the stars that could have been given to ‘It’s Cool’, ‘Fall’ and ‘Fail Epic’ could be shared among all the bands that they now blend in with, the pop top 40s and yes, Depeche Mode.

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