The Basement is back and better than ever

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Crowd standing around before he show started. Photo credit: Ileana Hunter

Walking into a dimly lit basement under a dental health center might be the last place you would expect to find an alternative music venue here in Rexburg … but it might be the most likely.

On July 14, The Basement announced that it would be closing its doors permanently due to the loss of it’s leasing manager, Steve Jensen. The venue owners had several issues with the leasing manager who took Jensen’s place and were forced to leave the location they had been in for years.

“I’ll never forget anything that happened down those scary stairs, and I hope that one day there can be more music in Rexburg,” stated Riley Bode, the manager, in a closing statement on their Instagram page. “Until then, thank you, I love you, and I’m sorry that in this moment, contrary to our belief system, Rexburg does suck.”

After word of the closure got out, a flood of support came back for The Basement and there was a GoFundMe page started with the title “Save Rexburg Music.” With a nearly met goal of around $5,000, Riley announced they were now in search of a new venue in the Rexburg area. She asked her followers to keep their eyes and ears open in an effort to find a new basement for the beloved music venue.

Then came the long-awaited announcement. Just in time for the start of fall semester, The Basement announced its reopening at its new location, 56 Professional Plaza in Rexburg will be its new home.

The Basement also announced its opening show which happened on Friday, September 17. Doors opened at 7:30 p.m. and didn’t close until the neighborhood was lit up again with the sound of local musicians.

Though the venue is usually known for its dark ambiance and black lights, the show on Friday night was well-lit in an effort to allow artists within the space to finish the paintings that were quickly filling up the black walls. There was a sense of creativity, innovation and community within those walls.

Artist Jake Cruz working on his art piece.
Artist Jake Cruz working on his art piece. Photo credit: Ileana Hunter

Many of the artists that were down those stairs had experienced the old and the new of what The Basement was and were excited to now be a part of the venue forever.

“I knew I wanted a piece in The Basement as soon as they sent out the call,” said Jake Cruze, a junior studying art. “I’ve always looked to art for an opportunity to be remembered, and I think having a subtle piece in one of my favorite places in my soon-to-be past is the best way to stick around in people’s lives.”

Cruze had spent many nights in the old location and had grown an affinity for the freedom and ambiance it provided.

“The Basement is an escape from school and work,” Cruze said. “It’s the best place to go to when you just need a place to decompress and feel the excitement from other people. You can find such good music and amazing friends by going.”

The musicians were also passionate about what The Basement opened up for locals and students alike.

This freedom of musical expression is said to be in short supply here in this small college town.

“There used to be a ton of places to play, campus on Tuesday nights, the Burg, and Skizzy’s,” said Alec Mikesell, a senior studying history. ” I don’t know if they do campus open mic anymore post COVID, and the Burg got closed down and replaced by a soulless pest control company. The Basement is one of the few places you can just casually play, as opposed to auditioned campus shows.”

The Basement is a perfect opportunity to find that outlet for expression and creativity that you might be looking for.

Alec Mikesell and Sui singing together in a band with a name they made up that night, "two big dudes".
Alec Mikesell and Sui singing together in a band with a name they made up that night, “two big dudes”. Photo credit: Ileana Hunter

“If you’ve been thinking about getting a band together, try it,” Mikesell said. “I’ve done it a few times and never regretted it. It’s just fun, and provided you’re not totally (bad), you can probably play a night or two at The Basement and feel cooler than you actually are, even if only for a night.”

There are usually things happening on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights with shows, open mic nights and more. You can find more information on their Instagram page or website.