There were very few quiet moments Friday night when Swedish DJ Alesso took over the District’s recently revamped megaclub Echostage. The first came right after the opening act’s set, when the low rumble faded out and antsy fans stood on tiptoes to see whether the headliner was making his way to the stage. The silence didn’t last long. A slight hum trickled over the crowd, quickly swelling into a full blown “USA! USA!” chant. The event began as one of the worst weeks of news in recent memory came to a close; little of the nation’s grief could be felt here.
Then the 21-year-old progressive house superstar Alessandro Lindblad took the reins, stockpiling euphoria through a long, tension-ridden build and releasing it to a blinding eruption of strobes. Those in the crowd wearing sunglasses weren’t doing it just to look cool.
There are few spectacles that compare with the production put on at Echostage. The lighting rigs are so elaborate, the sound system so forceful and the staging so . . . epic, it’s nearly impossible to have a muted reaction to the whole affair, whether for or against. The roughly 4,000 fans in attendance were decidedly pro-epic. As endless waves of buildup-breakdown, freakout-comedown washed over the masses, there was never anything but an ecstatic energy in the room.
Shows like these tend to be associated mainly with the performer, framed in razor-sharp prisms at the front of the club. But walking around the indoor-rave space, it was clear that Alesso the show is created only in small part by Alesso the musician. At the front of the house in an Alesso show, there’s a fleet of technicians flipping triggers that control a methodically arranged line of lights in sync with a state-of-the-art sound system. The doormen, publicists, servers, bartenders, go-go dancers and eagle-eyed security guards all work around the one person whom nearly everyone has their eyes fixed on.
So much of what makes an Alesso show entertaining comes from his anonymous staff. His contribution was for the most part another venture up and down the mainstream club charts, mixed with facile precision. Some moments were awe-inspiring harmonies of lights and bass, others were grating cheese-fests. (R.E.M.’s “Losing My Religion” doesn’t really work with trancy synths, bro.) One of the technicians backstage noted that he was working the mixer too hard; the sound system was better than what was coming through the speakers.
But Friday night, Alesso was the one who had to cover for the team when the power cut out during the last song. (“Guess your energy was just too much,” he said to an endlessly forgiving crowd). No matter — at that point everything had worked so well that the crowd filled the second moment of silence with another “USA!” chant. Then the power switched back on, Alesso played his last song over again and epic reigned supreme once more.
Yenigun is a freelance writer.