The Basement Rexburg, a downstairs music venue staged for live music, comedy and entertainment was the heartbeat of student night life until a leasing issue forced it to close in July. This devastated locals and up-and-coming bands that relied on its platform and audience exposure. Riley Bode, the manager of the original Basement, knew something had to be done to save this escape.
“We had an owner, and he has a venue in Idaho Falls, and so when the Basement was kind of done…he just wanted to put his focus there,” Bode said. “You know, going back and forth to Rexburg was hard, having two venues is hard, and so he just did what he had to do. It kind of just felt like, ‘What do we do now?’ because we didn’t have anything, and me not being the owner before, I didn’t have any of the funds from the Basement, and so we really had nothing when they said it was going to close.”
After assuming ownership of the Basement and searching through several properties for sale, Bode purchased an underground haunted escape room. In an interview with BYU-Idaho Radio, she explained how it took lots of vision to look past the grime and fake blood smeared on the walls of what would become the resurrected Basement.
The purchase of a new location was possible through a large community outpouring of support through GoFundMe and on social media. Bode said this outreach was a reflection of how much locals relied on the Basement as a retreat from the stresses of everyday life.
“I think people need it, as weird as that sounds. Like, that was the one thing I really learned from the old Basement…It was scary like you walked down those stairs and you did not know what you were going into, and then like you turn the corner and there was all this cool art on the wall, there was cool music, and I think people just felt heard in there. They felt like they could be themselves. They felt just like this little bit of a refuge,” she said.
Large-scale paintings on black walls added personality to this live music venue. Although Bode knew she wanted to preserve the spirit of the original Basement, not knowing how to reincorporate the same scale of artwork at the projected new location was a huge challenge starting out.
“That was like the most heartbreaking part about leaving. The artwork had been done on the old Basement walls before I even got there…And so, that was sad cause it’s like I didn’t know who to talk to to be like ‘Hey, can you come paint this again?’ and so that was rough. Once we got all the walls painted black I kind of had people just reach out and show me what they wanted to do…We have some of like the coolest stuff on the new walls ever, so hopefully people will keep adding,” Bode said.
Several artists have already contributed to the new Basement walls with original paintings and sharpie art. Bode said that anyone else who would like to contribute can contact the Basement Rexburg on Instagram to schedule a time to paint. Since reopening mid-September, the new venue has been booked out with band showcases and eager participants. Bode explained what she hopes people experience when they go the Basement.
“I hope people just experience that like they’re not alone as cheesy as that sounds. But, I’ve seen so many people come in, either alone or like with one person and then they like slowly keep coming back with like more friends that they've made at the Basement like people that you wouldn’t really put together.”
The Basement Rexburg is now located at 56 Professional Plaza. They host performance auditions every Monday and open-mic night on Thursdays. For more information about booking a gig, adding to the painted art or attending a live performance, just search the Basement Rexburg on Instagram and Facebook.