So I saw The Presets on Halloween, if you haven’t heard the news shouted from EVERY FREAKIN’ ROOFTOP IN THE WORLD by now.
It was one of the most incredible experiences of my life, which I know seems dramatic to say about a concert. But, when you’ve wanted to see a band as much as I’ve wanted to see them for as long as I’ve wanted to see them, and when said band’s music has been so deeply woven into the soundtrack of your daily life since you discovered them the greater part of a decade ago, it’s pretty epic.
It was the most fun I’ve possibly ever had, and I danced and sang at the top of my lungs for close to two hours straight. I simply decided life’s too short to stand still and those two men are the men who make my body want to move like nobody else. I swear they play me like an instrument.
I danced with and sang at total strangers who might as well have been best friends in the moment. Maybe it was the beat, maybe it was the euphoria from an entire room of people dancing and partying, or maybe it was just the utter magic that is The Presets, but the whole room was filled with this incredible feeling of love and acceptance. We were all in the moment and the moment was amazing. It was pure joy and I can’t wait for my next chance to see them again. (I am not the only person to have said this “love” and “joy” stuff about The Presets. They are universally adored as a live act and respected as tremendous musicians…both being classically trained, they’ve earned it. I know how classical training goes from my personal experience [lyric coloratura soprano in da house!].)
I’m going to take a second, if you’ll indulge me, to talk particularly personally about why this concert, and The Presets in general, are so important to me. A friend recently referred to me as a “superfan”, which I think is great, and is absolutely true. The Presets have been together some 10 years and for most of that time they’ve been one of my favorite bands (in actuality, they are now just my favorite band, full stop). Their music has been the soundtrack to my life – a life that has had some major ups and downs, major unrest, major adventure, major heartbreak, major surprises…all set to the music Kim and Julian have made (and continue to make – as long as they keep putting out tunes, they’ll keep aligning with moments and memories, for me). I first put seeing them live on my bucket list back in 2008 – I’d been a fan for a while, but that’s when I started getting really passionate about seeing them live. It just never worked out, until this past Halloween.
My life has changed a lot in the years that I’ve been listening to The Presets. And I’ve ended up in a situation that I never could have imagined. Anybody who has read this blog or knows me knows that I’m a 35 year old single mom, working two jobs from home while caring for my kid, blah blah blah, ad infinitum. I bore myself with it, honestly. (Though, I started writing this blog post on November 1st, and am just now completing it on November 12th…so that should give you some idea what my days are like.) I’m grateful to be employed and more than anything grateful to have an awesome soon-to-be 3 year old son who’s the light of my life. But there are a lot of days…a whole lot…when I look in the mirror and I don’t really recognize the person I see. It’s not that the person I see is bad. It’s just somebody different, somebody other than the person I’d expected to be. And that’s OK. But The Presets…sometimes when I’m listening to them, I remember. And it feels comfortable and comforting. And then other days they inspire me to discover more about the new somebody I’ve become. So yeah, I’m a superfan. And this concert was meaningful to me in more ways than I can express.
Now. Apologies in advance if I get any of my recollections wrong. For anyone who knows their music, they opened with Push, ended with Talk Like That, came back to encore Surrender (I think – at that point it was all frenzy and I know I danced and I sang but I don’t recall every moment vividly because we were all going batcrap nuts) and ended the encore with Anywhere. Which was like a personal love letter they didn’t even realize they sent me, because Anywhere is an important song to me. (Well, they’re ALL important, really.)
Although not presented here in exact order, as far as I remember the set list included Push, Fall, Ghosts, No Fun, Goodbye Future, Youth in Trouble, My People, This Boy’s in Love, Anywhere, Surrender (I think…mothertrucking ‘mommy brain’…), Talk Like That…and I think that’s it, I wish I could have finished this post sooner because I’m so harried all the time my memory is crap even on a good day, so now I wonder if they also played I Go Hard, I Go Home or if I dreamed it…I probably dreamed it. Maybe. @*#% me. Does anybody have the entire set list? HMU.
None of the songs sounded exactly like their album counterparts but they rarely do. The Presets are known for remixing their own music for shows. In fact I bet the next time I see them (and there WILL be a next time even if I have to pack up the kiddo and fly to Australia for it) the songs sound completely different. I’ve watched a bajillion YouTube videos taken at concerts and none sounded exactly like what I heard on Halloween. Their entire set was awesomely heavy on the beat & bass…partially because the sound system was a wee bit dodgy at the venue (I could only make out a fraction of what Julian said when he was just speaking, but could hear everything he sang just fine)…and partially, I think, because they just had an edge that night.
It was Halloween after all, and they were fully in costume. I wasn’t – though the top I wore was so low-cut (completely off-the-shoulders all around and plunging in the back, required a special bra and everything!) I might as well have been, since I never dress like that in real life anymore. And I was wearing makeup, can you believe it? I never have time or inclination for that these days. Once upon a time, I was a girl who wore all kinds of fun makeup. So, I was her again for Halloween. I guess that was my costume.
The way the stage was setup, or maybe just because he was in costume and feelin’ it, Julian spent quite a lot of time out from his spot behind the synths and walking up and down the stage, engaging with the audience and giving us all a good look. I’ve watched entire 2 hour performances on YouTube and not seen quite as much “up close and personal” Julian time; that’s not to say he was neglecting his instrument duties in the least, he was playing plenty. But, we seemed to get the treat of a little more up-front time than usual (or maybe not – remember I popped my Presets live cherry on this one). Kim, delightfully, was entirely engaged with the audience, “conducting” us with his drum sticks, encouraging us to count down to beats and generally being really fun to watch. You cannot fault either man’s stage presence in the slightest. They are mesmerizing.
It was an intimate (and slightly odd) venue with an equally intimate crowd. It was the Warsaw, a rock club that comes out to play periodically in the Polish National Home, so…before the show we grabbed a $6 plate of homemade pierogies (made by little Polish ladies, one of whom was, I think, dressed up as Gary Glitter) and a $2 bottle of water (they have clearly never been to a cinema because they could get away with charging $4-5 for a bottle of water and people would shrug it off). My sister, who accompanied me, had a $6 ginormous Polish beer. The tickets were only $30 plus transaction fees…the whole thing was a stupidly inexpensive night out, especially for the incredible entertainment factor and fun.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention there were several supporting acts – when we arrived I believe a house band was playing (I never did catch the name), followed by Franki Chan, Chela & Antwon. The Presets didn’t take the stage until well after 11pm, and all told I didn’t get home until 3am (and was up at 7am with the kiddo), but it was totally worth it.
One thing I did not do – purposefully – was take many photos or any video. The reason for this is that I really wanted to absorb the show and enjoy it, and not worry about holding a camera still. I was there to dance and sing and take in The Presets’ magic! This is why I am so incredibly grateful to the people of Brooklyn for being utterly obsessed with Instagram. I was able to find loads of video clips and photos (including a few longer ones on YouTube) that let me preserve the memory.
So what follows here is a sort of scrapbook of everything I’ve found to date (feel free to contact me with other stuff if you’d like it here) that’ll help us superfans keep the night near and dear, ’til the next time we get to see The Presets.
Click the photos to view the videos/pics/etc. on their respective sites. P.S. video clips on Instagram load SO LOUD…
To anyone on the fence about seeing The Presets, just do it. Seriously…do it.
Thanks, Kim & Jules, for an incredible night…for making me feel young & carefree again…for all the years of music that have been so important to me…Congrats on a decade – let’s have many more. Undying love from me to you. xo