One rainy, windy and rather cold Friday in early February, I spontaneously decided that an electronic show at Babylon Bomonti – conveniently within walking distance of my house – was my best bet to make something of an otherwise gloomy evening. Put on by Red Bull Music Academy, who have previously gifted Istanbul with the likes of Beardyman, Alice Russell, James Holden, Mathew Jonson and other well-known international acts, I had faith that a line-up of Kaan Düzarat, Todd Edwards and Julio Bashmore would impress, despite my limited knowledge of the performers. At the very least, I figured those who had already committed to purchasing tickets would be obliged to attend on a night where my most frequented watering holes would be deserted due to the weather.
So as I stumbled into the old converted beer factory around midnight, squeezing my way between the small mass of huddled-for-warmth smokers at the entrance, I was delighted to find that the venue was full of people happy to ignore the conditions outside. Based on the impressive numbers, I momentarily feared that we had, in fact, missed the opening acts entirely.
Fortunately this wasn’t the case, as I went on to learn that opener DJ Kaan Düzarat has a substantial local following. Having been active in Istanbul’s late night music scene in earnest since 2009, Kaan’s approach to incorporating house, techno and dub with elements of folk, disco and jazz (just to name a few) has earned him a well deserved fan-base. His musical stylings served as an ideal party starter, getting people dancing and in the zone for what was to follow.
As I’ve come to expect with Babylon Bomonti, the accompanying light show enhanced proceedings – just the right balance of darkroom anonymity and full-on energetic light show. Always happy to discover a solid local act, it was an excellent compliment to Kaan’s set and I look forward to catching him again.
American producer Todd Edwards, despite not being the headliner, was the evening’s real highlight for this attendee. Active in the music scene since the early 1990’s, it was clear that Edwards is extremely confident in his mixes and his choices did well to carry the vibe. His vocal selections were especially impressive, altered to fit his spirited remixes. A venue full of people singing along with the late greats Freddie Mercury and David Bowie’s Under Pressure, while simultaneously breaking it down on the dance floor, is quite the sight. Having worked alongside several industry juggernauts, including the legendary Daft Punk on more than one occasion, it would seem that he has all the necessary credentials… including a Grammy.
Despite personal preferences, it was no secret that Julio Bashmore was the evening’s main event. Hitting the stage around 2:00, the venue had long been transformed into a full-on dance party, and Bashmore was more than capable of keeping it going. My fondness for Edwards boiled down to his sense of homage and respect to older artists, an act of incorporating them into a modern set. For the Bristol headliner, while certainly borrowing and nodding to past sounds, he very much had an authenticity all his own. For the more committed house and electronic enthusiasts hoping for the genre to develop and expand, it makes sense that Bashmore would be the main draw. His 2015 release Knockin’ Boots is testament to his innovation and ability to forge a new path, while maintaining an aura of familiarity.
In hopes of catching a bit of daylight productivity, I regretfully wandered into the harsh night before Bashmore’s set concluded. The crowd had seemingly only grown larger in the hours that had passed and I like to imagine everyone remained well into the morning.
Featured image courtesy of Brenden McNulty.