Duke Dumont has been making waves lately, and with good reason. Having been active in the scene for the better part of the last decade, he’s seen massive success with his hits like “I Got U,” “Won’t Look Back,” and “Need U (100%).” This past weekend he headlined the latest installment of Inception Saturdays, hosted by Insomniac at Exchange LA, and a sold out crowd greeted him on the dance floor to enjoy a night of impeccable music. Alongside supporting acts Adam Auburn and Burn Unit, the old Los Angeles stock exchange building was transformed into a wonderland of Deep House and dancing, leaving those who could not secure tickets green with envy.
When we arrived at the venue, we took a look around to get a sense of the layout. Having unimpeded access to the upper VIP deck was a luxury that we didn’t yet appreciate; the dense crowd that came later made it almost impossible to get anywhere quickly. We first encountered a girl with a cast on her left leg who wasn’t using crutches to walk around. Instead, she had what basically amounted to a scooter with pads for your knee to rest on and freely rolled from place to place. She carried with her an expertly crafted sign, complete with sorority-style glitter, asking Duke Dumont to sign her cast. We thought this was awesome, and she kindly posed for a photo. I never found out if she ended up getting that signature, though.
We proceeded up the main floor to find Adam Auburn, Exchange LA resident DJ, playing some chill House to a sparsely filled dance floor. Doors had only been open for 45 minutes before then, and there was an unhurried flow of people going through security. I really enjoyed Adam’s set because he expertly played the room. While people were socializing on their first drink of the night, he played more mellow songs. When people filled in the room and started to loosen up a bit, he bumped up the tempo and played some more aggressive tracks. As the energy increased and the chatter of the crowd got louder, he got on the microphone to ask how the crowd was doing, receiving a loud and enthusiastic response. The crowd was finally warmed up, and it was no accident that the energy ramped up right before 12:30 AM; a few minutes later, we heard a familiar song come on the loudspeakers and finally saw the logo on the screen.
Even if there are still people out there who do not know Duke Dumont by name, I would bet there are few who have not yet heard his music. On that night, in front of a sold out venue full of people who came specifically for him, Duke opened his set with a gallant exclamation of himself and his sound. As the serene vocal “oohs” of “I Got U” began to blend into Adam Auburn’s last track, the vibe in the room got tense and every person turned to face the stage. The piano hits finally struck, and the entire crowd screamed. When the verse finally began, people stopped what they were doing to be present in that moment, singing vociferously along.
Duke Dumont, born Adam Dyment, didn’t get to where he is now without developing the same ability to play a room that his opener demonstrated. After an explosive first song, he naturally transitioned into tracks that even had hints of Techno. Not once did I feel that the vibe became disconnected from the audience, and everywhere I went people were dancing where they stood. Even when he decided to play some deeper songs and people would become more involved with their conversations or their flirting, he would come back with a huge track and steal away the room’s attention. When he dropped “Hope” by Alex Metric & Oliver, I peered down from the second level at a dance floor that appeared to be bouncing in unison to the groove. As 2:00 AM began to approach, I realized he must have been gearing up for his closing song. As soon as that thought crosses my mind, seemingly on cue, I hear the piano hits of “Won’t Look Back” echo through the room with an intensity that made the song sound larger than it ever has. The air was truly electric as a room that was no less crowded than when he began his set started to sing along to the lyrics, enamored and impassioned. His final musical statement was every bit as powerful as his opener, and an entire club was left awestruck as Burn Unit took over the decks to close the night.
Matt Black, who goes by the alias Burn Unit, certainly had big shoes to fill, but considering his recent placement on the EDC Las Vegas lineup I kept an open mind and was optimistic. Much of the dense crowd dissipated to either head home, catch a smoke break, or get another drink, but the music continued on without skipping a beat. Even though everybody knew that the headliner had stepped down, the energy never left the room. Achieving that would arguably be the most daunting aspect of going on after somebody like Duke Dumont, and Burn Unit accomplished it dutifully. There was a steady stream of underground Deep House that kept die-hard fans moving, and it was decidedly more enjoyable to have some space to move around. All the way up until 3:30 AM, the Funktion-One sound system was played skillfully like an instrument, and Burn Unit’s set capped the night off perfectly.
Anticipation of this event was high, and rightfully so. Many fans have been turned on to Duke Dumont’s unique ability to play the Deep sounds that are in vogue right now, mixed in with the right amount of catchy vocals, and he is proving to be one of the premier contemporary acts of the genre. If you were not able to catch him at Coachella, and were not quick enough to secure tickets for this show, you have another opportunity to see him live on Saturday at the Cosmic Meadow of EDC Las Vegas from 2:00AM – 3:00AM. Although it was delightful to watch him in an intimate setting like that of Exchange LA, I think a set under the electric sky has the potential to be the greatest one yet. Lastly, here's a big shout out to Insomniac for hosting us at their event, and we look forward to what's in store for the future!
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