The fact that the name Duke Dumont doesn’t ring any bells may not come as the world’s biggest surprise. You might not be able to pin down any trademark characteristics of his music, yet the electronic DJ has a knack for making accessible, entrancing pop-oriented house music that has continued to fuel the masses for the past decade.
Though Dumont’s identity plays little part in his live shows and musical palette, the effect his performances have on fans is certainly far from anonymous. The artist’s March 5 stint at The Warfield cemented his reputation for first-class live show experiences, delivering an engrossing set of non-stop infectious house music paired with impeccable stage design.
Dumont made his breakthrough in 2013 with his hit “Need U (100%)” and remixes of popular club tracks such as “Your Drums, Your Love” and “The Keepers.” While his debut album Duality wasn’t released until 2020, showcasing a stronger melodic side to his sound, the time spent in between birthed numerous U.K. hit singles and the Grammy-nominated “I Got U.” Though the artist’s discography isn’t exactly expansive, his material has never failed to leave its mark.
The San Francisco crowd at The Warfield was more than eager to take part in the artist’s exhilarating show, one of his many sets across the U.S. this year. The venue was packed to the brim from the balcony seats to the general admission pit, as concertgoers were pulled en masse toward the stage by the consistent pulse of Dumont’s feverish house blend. Building off of the momentum of explosive sets from earlier opener Ney x Miss Mak and special guest Cristoph, Dumont’s set topped the night off by pushing the audience energy levels through the roof.
It was all eyes forward as opener “Red Light Green Light” blared through the speakers, the song establishing the initial tone of the show to shift toward a blissed-out, house-centric take on “Nineteen Eighty-Four.” Projected onto the center screen, singer Shaun Ross’s face stood in for Big Brother, commanding the audience to dance in time with hypnotic frenzy. Dumont was obscured from view as the visuals played, performing on his synthesizers in real time as he remained sandwiched between brightly-lit backgrounds and a cage-like, multi-paneled lighting apparatus that separated him from the audience. Pairing up “Red Light Green Light” with songs such as “Obey” rendered the set’s Orwellian vibe fully realized, complete with rapidly firing laser lights.
The rest of the set spanned tropical to ’80s inspired house, with colorful visuals to enhance and maintain the music’s euphoric high. The crowd danced through the hits, with excitement peaking at the most recognizable moments in the final stretch featuring “I Got U” and “I Need U (100%).” The How To Dress Well-assisted “Together” was a potent penultimate track; the song’s warm, slow-building structure offered both Dumont and the audience the affecting opportunity to appreciate the moment before bringing things home, the operatic beat drop unleashing floodgates of pure euphoria.
It wasn’t until the very end that the cage-like stage fixture began to rise, leaving Dumont to face the crowd directly. After an ultra-smooth, almost seamless set of back-t0-back bangers, the DJ took the chance to speak briefly, thanking the audience for turning up to one of his shows. For the last song of the night, Dumont led the now sweaty yet endlessly energized Warfield crowd in singing along to the quintessential Duke Dumont song, “Ocean Drive” — one last blast of warmth before sending everyone back out into the cold of the early San Francisco morning.
In the final moments, the DJ and the audience were one, unified by an urgent bassline, uncomplicated lyrics displayed karaoke-style across the stage and the unstoppable propensity to move to the beat.