It might be home to the White House, but in recent years Washington has lacked strong leadership in terms of its club scene. That all changed on September 22, 2012 when Echostage, located at 2135 Queens Chapel Rd NE, opened with inaugural guests Sander van Doorn and Sunnery James & Ryan Marciano.
A sprawling 30,000 plus square feet in size, Echostage's top tier spec attracted a similarly high profile list of EDM talent in its first 12 months, including David Guetta, Calvin Harris, Avicii and Tiësto. So it comes as no surprise that the campaign team behind it, partners Antonis Karagounis and Pete Kalamoutsos, are old hands at putting on capital rocking parties. We asked them to look back over their first year.
What were you doing before this venture?
Antonis: “We were hosting weekly GLOW parties at Fur Nightclub (2,000 capacity) as well as various one-offs at the DC Armory (9k capacity), RFK Stadium Grounds (20k capacity), Fillmore DC (2k) and Jiffy Lube Live (20k).”
Pete: “We also owned and operated other DC venues, like Barcode Restaurant & Lounge (since 2010), Ultrabar Nightclub (since 2006) and Lima Lounge (from 2006-2012). We started our careers as promoters back in 1994 and have been hosting EDM events as GLOW since 1999.”
What is the club scene like in Washington and why did you decide that there was a gap in the market?
Antonis: “The club scene in DC used to be stale. But as EDM got bigger (along with DJs), we knew we had to step up our production/experience for both the artists and our patrons. Back in April of 2011, we did a Tiësto concert at DC Armory with 9000 people. We brought in Tiësto and his amazing production, and that was where we got the idea for Echostage. We wanted Echostage to be a mini festival of sorts, except every week.”
What were the highlights of the first year? And what have you learned?
Antonis: “Every week gets better and better. We're adding new productions every week and our operation as a venue is also improving on a weekly basis. We've definitely found our groove. It's tough to pick just one show, but if I had to do it, it would be Tiësto in December of 2012. We basically built Echostage for an artist of his caliber. So it was a great feeling when we saw he loved playing here so much. The crowd was thrilled.”
Pete: “Something that I will always remember was the reaction on people's faces when they entered the main floor. They couldn't believe the size of the venue and the quality of our production. What I've learned is to not pay attention to criticism and trolls. It's hard to avoid responding to some comments. We have poured our souls into this project and do the best we can on a daily basis. Most fans recognize that and see Echostage as their second home. That positive feedback is what keeps us wanting to constantly improve the venue and give them an even better show.”
You've had some high profile guests play. Are you also supporting local DJ talent?
Pete: “Absolutely. We have a regular rotation of 10-15 local DJs that open for most of our shows. Sometimes, we have national DJ tours coming through and it's hard to fit in our local DJs. But we always give locals a chance to showcase their skills. DC is home to some amazing artists that are worldwide names as well. BT, Dubfire, Saeed Younan and Enferno all performed at Echostage within our first year.”
What's coming up in 2014?
Antonis: “2014 is Echostage's year of diversity. We're ready to take it to the next level. Glow will have the same big names, as well as up and comers. Echostage as a venue will evolve in the indie scene since we've partnered with IMP to bring in acts like Lorde, Ellie Goulding, Cut Copy, Phoenix and many more. Just last night, Jay Z blessed our venue. That was so exciting!”