The Basement offers local entertainment

Photo by Crystal Charriere

On June 17, 24th St. blared with the sound of metal music. The neighborhood has come to expect the noise as Ogden’s local music venue, The Basement, gains in popularity. Utah-bred metal band Fire in the Skies was holding their CD release party at The Basement to promote their second album, along with a performance lineup of local and touring bands.

For those who are interested in checking out new bands, The Basement is an all-ages band venue, located in downtown Ogden at 329 East 24th St., that specializes in local Utah music. The owner, Jason Allen, is a Weber State University alumnus who has a degree in civil engineering and used to  host KWCR’s “The New Kids,” a campus radio show which interviews up-and-coming local artists.

“The Basement tries to be as involved as possible with the WSU campus so that we can provide a fun and entertaining outlet for the stresses of college life,” Allen said.

Allen opened his venue almost two years ago. It caters to different music tastes, specifically metal, alternative and ska, but holds occasional acoustic and hip-hop nights to try showcasing any other music there is a demand for.

To make sure that The Basement can remain an all-age venue, Allen has taken precautions to ensure a safe environment by having security guards standing by to help prevent hard-core, violent dancing, fights and any outside alcohol.

The Basement also has a charitable history with WSU, helping to host benefit shows that support WSU aid projects.

Allen lent out the entire venue for free during benefit concerts for WSU organizations, like the campus radio’s “Hope for Holidays” food drive back in November 2009, the Village Bicycle Project in July 2010, and the Amigos for Honduras benefit concert last April. The Basement also has internship opportunities for communications students who need the hours to complete their degrees.

The bands that play there seem to be dependent on the fans the venue pulls in for their own success in the Utah music scene.

“The people know more about the Ogden music scene,” said Chris Kilbourn, the Fire in Skies record label owner. “No one takes care of their bands and fans like Jason does. It’s created a hub for music that wasn’t there before. The Salt Lake places are closing down. The Basement is expanding.”

Even the touring bands on the bill, such as Burning Twilight and Idols, who were hailing all the way from Centralia and Seattle, Wash., said they appreciated the professionalism and fan response.

“It’s okay to have people just standing and crossing their arms watching you,” said Daniel Matson, drummer from the Idols. “But when the vocalist did the epic breakdown, and told everyone to get moving, everyone started moshing.”

Burning Twlight and the Idols are on tour this summer, and Matson, who arranged the majority of the tour, said they had to move the tour dates back an entire week to fit into the lineup of Friday’s show. In the three days they had been on tour, the band said the show at The Basement had been their most successful.

“It’s the best venue in Ogden,” said Mark Hamilton, bassist for Burning Twilight, who also said he was impressed by the ability The Basement had to draw in the locals. “We had fans from Provo that even came to see us.”

The Basement’s main upcoming shows will involve their Battle of the Bands-inspired competition, “The Tournament of Champions.” The alternative sector of the tournament has already been completed, but the metal portion continues with the finale on July 17. The tickets are $5 in advance and $7 at the door.

“If you don’t have something to do, get off Twitter and come to The Basement and meet some new people, whether you like the music or not,” Nielson said. “Life is about the acquaintances you make.”

Bands with an interest in being featured at The Basement can fill out a booking request form found on The Basement’s website, Any questions about interning opportunities can also be answered by referring to the website.

“Places like this are super-important to a music scene,” Matson said. “They’re willing to put bands no one has ever heard of on the bill. Without medium-sized venues like the Basement, bands like us wouldn’t have a chance to survive.”