U Street Music Hall may have closed during the COVID-19 pandemic, but two other D.C. nightclubs hope to avoid that same fate thanks to a major recent acquisition.
Insomniac Events is taking over Echostage and Soundcheck, home to 150 annual events by Club Glow, which also produces Preakness InfieldFest and Moonrise Fest.
“Insomniac is the biggest dance promoter in the world,” Club Glow President and CEO Pete Kalamoutsos told WTOP. “They own Electric Daisy Carnival in Las Vegas, which gets upward of 200,000 people per day; they own Beyond Wonderland, which is another West Coast festival brand, and they were looking to come to the East Coast.”
The deal was struck in the fourth quarter of 2019, and paperwork finalized by February 2020, but COVID-19 thwarted plans to announce it in March at Miami Music Week.
“We felt that with so much negative news coming out in the public about dance music and venues closing … we felt that it was important to announce it now and give people hope, and let the fans know that we’re going to be back; we’re not going anywhere,” Kalamoutsos said. “There’s a vaccine coming, and there’s also Echostage coming!”
Since 2012, Echostage has brought nightlife to Queens Chapel Road in Northeast D.C.
“Echostage is very unique,” Kalamoutsos said. “It’s a 3,000-person hybrid club. You have a huge dance floor, which for general admission you can come dance, have fun and watch your favorite artist on a state-of-the-art LED wall. Then we have an upstairs with 40 tables. … Echostage is an iconic venue. There’s nothing like it in the world.”
Over the years, Echostage has hosted such EDM titans as Calvin Harris, Avicii, Tiësto, David Guetta and Above & Beyond, as well as non-EDM acts such as Sam Smith, Lorde, Ellie Goulding, Cardi B, Migos, Da Baby and Rare Essence.
Occasionally, these famous artists will get their start at Echostage’s little underground brother Soundcheck, which opened downtown on K Street Northwest in 2015.
“Rezz is an amazing dance producer — she was opening for somebody at Soundcheck, then we were able to build her out and put her at Echostage,” Kalamoutsos said. “It’s a really cool room; it’s underground, low ceilings. … It’s pretty much soundproofed, from foam ceilings to cork hardwood floors. It’s the ultimate intimate experience.”
Such an intimate vibe is sadly at odds with social distancing.
“Not just EDM but live music in general, people want to come and be packed and shoulder to shoulder and sing along, all the things that COVID doesn’t want you to do,” Kalamoutsos said. “I don’t want to be the first venue to open. I don’t want to open until we can open safely. We don’t know when it’s gonna be, but we’re going to be ready.”
For him, it’s a personal mission to see the city thrive.
“I’m from D.C.; I live in D.C. I’m not going anywhere,” Kalamoutsos said. “I love this city; I wear a mask; I go out responsibly. What’s more important to me is not the business — it’s the city getting back. Once the city is back, the businesses will come back after that. But first, let’s open safely, then worry about the venues opening.”