Despite the fact, that we seem to traverse the LA landscape of music and culture as a unit, it is rare, that we can all find time aside from our busy schedules to spend an entire weekend together. Exceptions would include the illustrious and incredible Coachella Valley Music Festival. Therefore, a week prior to yet another overseas departure for Bllackbird, we (the gang) decided to attack a full weekend of incredible music and partying. This year would mark the final X-Games in Los Angeles, before its migration to Austin. However disparaged one might feel about such news, the extreme sporting organization would provide us with one final evening of music. Headlined by the epic Australian duo The Presets, the unanimous decision was made to kick off our three day weekend in style. While my belief is to almost always arrive fashionably late, this occasion took exception considering the fact that wristbands for the pit were limited. And the heat of the pit is a formality when it comes to the explosive Aussies. If you’re not shuffling and sweating, you’re missing out. The added bonus for the night, was that the opening bands were actually well established in the indie/electro scene. FMLYBND, Robert DeLong and Tanlines were exquisite acts that displayed ingenuity and expertise at their crafts. FMLYBND have spelt their name in the usual cliche that is indicative of an era of music that was released post MSTRKRFT; geniuses who began the naming trend but also acted as the American answer to Justice and Daft Punk. As a result of our love for the aforementioned duo, most acts who try and mimic this lack of vowels come under severe scrutiny and ridicule, fortunately FMLYBND, like TNGHT or SBTRKT have passed this scrutiny with flying colours. Their upbeat swagger and energetic synth rock blended the sounds of Arcade Fire with Naked and the Famous. A pleasant surprise to say the least. Robert DeLong, needless to say left us speechless. Redefining the concept of the one man band, DeLong’s elaborate set up of synthesizers, pads, vocal looper and even a full drum kit allows him to produce and reproduce songs, harmonies and beats from a full repertoire that is twisted and manipulated by his arsenal of video game controllers, that include a Nintendo Wii controller and an old school P.C. joystick. His music itself is spry, upbeat, daring and dance-centric. Tanlines, are comprised of two collared-shirt Jewish boys from Brooklyn. A talented pair, one of whom sings and plays the guitar, while the other does absolutely everything else under the sun. Their tropical electro vibe, serenades as it sways, and their innocuous melodies swoon with a tempered regret and a lovelorn reminiscence. Charming, light-hearted and affable their music was very good, but we were there to be very bad. As the roadies carted out, and began sound testing a horizontal pylon with neon bars lined vertically across its face, the swirl of unrest and anticipation began to overwhelm a dance floor that was steadily growing in density. Their eventual emergence was received with a warmth and adoration, that permeated throughout the room. With a penchant for the dramatic, in both lyrics and performance. The Aria award winning duo simply killed it. Opening their act with the slow burning “Youth In Trouble”, we knew we were in for a treat. As the build up reached its pinnacle it seemed as if there was one giant leap from the crowd as we all came down with the drop. Lights began flashing, lasers beaming. The room shaking and stirring, the cult of dance commenced. The blitz and glamour of The Presets’ unique blend of emotional industrial electro pushed the crowd into the previously mentioned state of sweat and shuffle. One of the reasons why I pursue music outside the realms of what popular radio provides, is because the live shows are packed to the brim with loyal and dedicated fans, who have found music that connects with them. The Presets are this exact manifestation to myself. Their music speaks on so many levels of the follies and tragedies of life, while celebrating the gaps that we fill with joy, love, and wonder. We are enjoying so much more than just the superficial nature of temporary audio pleasure. We are celebrating our shared experiences. The Presets could feel this warmth reflecting off their audience as they were not only humbled, but joining us in our feverish jubilation. Both of them were doing the tennis bounce as they unleashed whirring vibrations and thundering bass. One of the most memorable moments was “This Boy’s in Love”, as they provided us with a mix that emphasized a gradual build and a somber tease and taunt with the song’s iconic melody. Only to have the crushing beat drop on us after an unforgettable crescendo.
There is a reason why they are one of the most celebrated talents down under. Their sheer love for the music and passion for songwriting is only matched by their conceptual intellectualism and gorgeous orchestration. Consistent, and reliable, but never predictable; their dark tones and worldly atmosphere have never failed to impress. They exited to a raucous applause and genuinely treasured the heart-filled send off. My bones were rattled and the evening was done. I felt rejuvenated, — a true sign of a great show — and excited to tackle the weekend that lay ahead of us; the astonishing and epic HARD Summer.