Column: Save live music

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Grace Wride and Abby Baker before a concert.

As of two days ago, Rexburg had exactly one music venue, the Basement. Today it has exactly zero. Yes, there are many concerts on campus that are wholesome, uplifting and worth going to. However, BYU-Idaho doesn’t tend to endorse psychedelic rock, indie garage alternative or a plethora of genres the Basement supported. The Basement closed because the building owner decided to shut it down.

I brought a date to the first concert I went to at the Basement. I don’t remember any specific bands that played, but I remember meeting a different side of Rexburg I hadn’t experienced in my 15 weeks of living in this little Idaho town.

Rexburg’s more alternative crowd often came out to the Basement. People gathered outside of Rexburg’s typical blurred lines of church and state and into a space solely focused on music.

I walked past what was then the blue “LOVE wall” and ducked through the door to the scary, wooden stairs. I skeptically started walking down, unsure of what awaited me at the bottom. I showed our tickets and we received our stamps. That’s when I saw the iconic, painted Basement walls for the first time, the most notable painting being a simple sentence:

“Rexburg doesn’t suck.”

My date and I laughed and debated the validity of the statement until the concert began.

A close up of the "Rexburg doesn&squot;t suck" painting.
A close up of the “Rexburg doesn’t suck” painting. Photo credit: Grace Wride

I don’t remember the specifics of that night, instead, a supercut of every Basement concert memory I have melt together in my mind. Some of the scenes:

— My old roommates and I jumping slightly off beat with the rest of the crowd, relishing in our youth and wearing out our eardrums for our future selves. We wear matching shirts and twirl each other as we scream to choruses we just learned.

— A different date and I bonding over the strange nature of the bands that were performing. Holding hands and holding back laughter as the men in front of us wave their fists in the air. Flames shoot out of a projector onto the wall. We feel out of place while also fitting in because, for some reason, everyone belongs in a place that feels out of place in a small town like Rexburg.

— Forcing myself out of bed just to stand in that small venue and hear The Backseat Lovers (an incredible indie rock band from Utah) play because I couldn’t forgive myself if I let a small thing like an allergic reaction stop me from seeing them live. I can barely stand but I’m singing along with strangers and my aching stomach is forgotten, overshadowed by the amps vibrating my ribs.

— Glowing inside and swaying slightly while my roommate, Bailee Merrill, performs an original piece on her guitar. About 25 others smile softly as they bask in the talent I get to hear float through my apartment almost daily.

My first trip to the Basement didn’t lead to a future with that boy, but it did lead to a future of trips to that underground music venue. The future involved dancing alongside strangers in the dark, maneuvering my way to the front to support friends and enjoying the live rock music my soul desperately craves.

The Basement offered what no other place in Rexburg has, a space dedicated to music. A space where anyone could gather, and anyone could share their talents.

I hoped there would be more concerts, more dancing and more sharing of talents in a unique setting. There were already a limited number of things to do in Rexburg, now there are even less.

The band Indigo Waves started a GoFundMe to raise money for a new location and equipment. Let’s work together to save live music in Rexburg, let’s make sure, as the Basement’s walls say:

“Rexburg doesn’t suck.”