Julio Bashmore at The Academy, Dublin, 14th November 2015

This decade it seems as if we’ve experienced a cultural shift. The zeitgeist has been polluted with recycled overly-grandiose posturing, the type that can be found at nauseating hotbeds like Tomorrowland. And so while fantastic house artists still exist, for every Maya Jane Coles there are at least 3 Martin Garixxs. In the light of this phenomenon, however, nobody has represented the beacon of hope quite like Julio Bashmore has.

Knockin’ Boots’ was one of the most underrated albums from this year melding house with RnB, garage, hip-hop and soul. Curated to perfection, it captures all those heart-warming moments in a club you never want to lose. It was the product of over a decade of dedication, listening to hip-hop cassettes and experimenting with synthesisers and bands. And a plethora of impressive releases. Bashmore (real name Mathew Walker) is no stranger to Ireland having toured here numerous times already. And after a well-received set at Electric Picnic, there was a strong turnout at The Academy to catch the 25-year old Bristolian.

Speaking to The Irish Times this year, he commented there are “the two sides of me, the dance side and the more song-based stuff I’ve done with Jessie [Ware]”. Indeed, this confluence of drawn-out house cuts and pop-orientated vocalised tracks for the most part grabs your attention then releases you into hazy delirium at just the right time. There is too a new-found heaviness to Bashmore’s set, the DJ making full use of the close-knit environment of The Academy, its sound system and the wonderful lights show, absorbing you in as soon as you’ve made you’re way up the stairs and into the main area. Perhaps none more so than on magnum opus, Au Seve.

The set too is sparky, the chops on the sassy She Aint a particular highlight. You can’t help but think however that Bashmore is lost on the attention deficit of some of the crowd, the set sometimes too stately and drawn-out for its own liking. Part of what made ‘Knockin Boots’ so endearing is just how meticulous and soulful it is. Two elements that the set seemed to lack.

What it lacked in these areas however it more than made up for in just how retro and exciting it was. Although it would have been nice to end the night with something in the mould of ‘Knockin’ Boots’ highlight Kong, with his set ending before three, perhaps Bashmore was being realistic with the dynamics of many of the attendees’ session agenda. Talks of raves echoed on Abbey Street. For a lot of the crowd, their night was only just climaxing. See, what DJs have to take into account that perhaps conventional Indie bands don’t as much is that their show is part of a greater journey in the night. There are no pauses to interact with the crowd. And there can be no sudden changes of tempo. DJ sets are less about the celebrity and idolisation than a cloudy egalitarian voyage into utopia.

And so, while for some who might have been expecting something in the model of ‘Knockin’ Boots’, you have to remember that despite his dabbling into soul and R’n’B, Bashmore is, at heart, a house DJ. You must appreciate that he corresponded his set with the rapport of the crowd fairly well and take it for what it is. And what it was, for the most part, was pretty great.