When the former Sunset Station rebranded as The Espee in late 2019, it embraced not only the “S” and “P” of its St. Paul Square home, but the venue’s history as a mid-route hub of the Southern Pacific railroad, once affectionately nicknamed the “Espee.”

Now run by the same entertainment company that operates the landmark Majestic and Charline McCombs Empire theaters, after a pandemic-caused delay, the historic venue will reinvigorate its more recent history as a music and events venue.

The Ambassador Theater Group will present its grand opening “All Aboard” concert event on March 4, with a full slate of music groups representing multiple genres.

The Head and The Heart will headline the daylong event, with Grupo Fantasma, Danielle Ponder, UPSAHL, Golden Dawn Arkestra, and Austin’s popular Mike and The Moon Pies also performing.

The broad mix of genres, including soul, folk, Americana, Afrobeat, indie and pop, reflects what the Ambassador group and its new director of programming, Kevin Couch, hope will become a rich and diverse concert schedule, said Emily Smith, the group’s general manager.

“The intention of ‘All Aboard’ is to be a sampling of different genres, to give the community an idea of what’s to come,” Smith said during a walkthrough of the refurbished outdoor amphitheater and indoor event spaces.

The entire venue will be activated during the grand opening, with local vendors and restaurants occupying the various indoor and outdoor spaces, and between-set entertainment by DJ Bartees Strange.

Upcoming events include not only a March 25 concert by pop star Sabrina Carpenter, but also a public event by the San Antonio African American Community Archive and Museum’s third annual Fiesta Family Blues Festival April 26-28, which demonstrates the versatility of the space, Smith said.

Indoor rooms dubbed Depot Two, Depot Three and Depot Four are variously outfitted with refurbished bars, a kitchen, and a stage, and will be available for public and private events.

Located just East of downtown, The Espee, formerly known as Sunset Station, will host a variety of events and shows for the San Antonio Community.
Refurbished bars can be found in the Espee depots, where private events and extensions to outdoor programming can be facilitated. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

The 3,175-capacity general admission amphitheater will add a new outdoor venue to the Ambassador group’s San Antonio venues, and take its place among a growing number of concert venues including the newly-dubbed Boeing Center at Tech Port, the reimagined Pearl Stable and the Sunken Garden Theater, should its plans for renovations meet with community approval.

Such growth is evidence that San Antonio is no longer a place to be bypassed when bands book tours through Texas, Smith said.

“The continued growth of live music venues and expansion in San Antonio signals to the entertainment industry that there is demand here, and we are starting to see it change,” she said.

Tickets for the All Aboard grand opening start at $75, with one dollar from each ticket benefiting San Antonio for Growth on the Eastside. Doors open March 4 at 2:30 p.m. and entertainment starts at 3 p.m.

Avatar photo

Nicholas Frank

Senior Reporter Nicholas Frank moved from Milwaukee to San Antonio following a 2017 Artpace residency. Prior to that he taught college fine arts, curated a university contemporary art program, toured with...