Australian dance duo the Presets haven’t hit the same commercial highs in the U.S. as they have back home, where club music was permeating the mainstream when Sonny Moore was still doing screamo. In 2008, the twosome snagged six ARIA awards, including best group and best album, on the strength of their sophomore effort, “Apocalypso.”
Last fall the Presets dropped their long-awaited follow-up, “Pacifica,” and a co-headlining tour with Dragonette led to a rare Minneapolis gig for the Sydney synth fiends Wednesday night.
L.A. disco duo Classixx warmed up a slow-arriving First Avenue crowd with an effervescent live set before electro-poppers Dragonette bounded onto the stage. The Toronto trio is perhaps best known for singer Martina Sorbara’s collaboration with electro-house Frenchman Martin Solveig on his elastic hit “Hello,” which giddied the dance-ready crowd. Their set was a saccharine mix of bubblegum electro-glam and ‘80s crying-in-the-rain ballads, with Sorbara’s mousy yet feisty demeanor taking center stage.
While much of the crowd seemed more familiar with Dragonette, the Presets offered a substantive antidote to the Canadians’ synth-pop candy. Singer/MIDI maven Julian Hamilton and drummer/electronics tweaker Kim Moyes started their set with the slow-burning minimal techno tune “Push.” Their apparent Kraftwerk influence was most pronounced on this stripped-down stomper, which served as a suspenseful opener.
While much of the Presets’ music is club-ready, it easily transitions into the traditional concert setting. As a frontman, the sparkly blazered Hamilton has a cold charisma. He rarely spoke to the crowd (why give the audience a reason to stop dancing?), but worked the stage well. His suavely stern voice was meant for electronic music, anchoring jubilatory house tracks likes “Fall.” Meanwhile, Moyes’ percussion pounding gives their dance songs an organic chutzpah.
Hamilton and Moyes proved pragmatic mood-shifters, naturally stringing together a series of peaks and valleys. Whether switching from pop anthem “Promises” to the cut-time march of “Ghost,” the two displayed a dance-punk dynamo.
After tornadic electro banger “My People,” the Presets returned for a blustery encore, which concluded with a drum-crashing rendition of “Kicking and Screaming” into the climactically frenzied “Talk Like That.”
While the crowd had thinned slightly by the end of their set, the floor remained comfortably condensed with the audience moving along to their moody thumpers. Until more Americans catch on to this Australian sensation, there will be some space left on the dance floor. But Wednesday night the extra room was needed.