The Basement Reunion Show Review

It was a night on fire. 

A field of bodies, heads rising like so many stalks of grass to form a steaming stream, heat as palpable as the briefly touched shirt-sweat of the sisters and brothers flowing against each other. Neon lights glaze through the many hazy tendrils of cigarette smoke; here, then, a community, like little bonfires lighting across the night, firing neuron-like to form bonds across impasse of sight and self.

It is a town, all-encompassed, clearly gathered here both in spirit and, quite literally, seemingly in its entirety - with every movement, Andy’s heaves at the so-stretched seams. It is the most beautiful of claustrophobias, for in this tightness is comfort, connection. This set of souls, formed here now, is hellbent on rising past schism and loss, and this few year absence-turned-reunion is no different; it is no absence, but rather, a presence moved beyond the physical or the temporal.

It’s a few impassioned, alight-like-fire young creatives that have done so much for a city, for a small town, for a huge group of individuals. It’s a group of people that can’t be bound by one project, one title - but this night is about a sparking of many things via one, and that one, singular, incomparable thing is - was - The Basement.

Everyone familiar with the music scene knows Corey Claytor and Matt Battaglia - or, when they come alive on stage, S. Good and b-tag. They’ve done everything from the recent encouragement and lending of aid to local business such as The Bearded Lady, to being fundamental in the founding and elevation of Denton’s homegrown music fest, Oaktopia. One couldn’t even begin to capture the influence these two - and their fellow musicians in the Basement and beyond - have had on the arts in Denton. 

Needless to say, this one-off Facebook-memory like-count-inspired dream-come-true is kind of a big deal. The reunion of the Basement, as its members are wont to do even on their own, defied expectation.

Now, it wouldn’t have been possible without opening band and inimitable talents in their own rights, Biographies. Few bands can claim to be so sonically tight and emotively inspiring at the same time; much less, so completely, hardcore, dance-demandingly jamming. Few can so much as claim the ability to make your eyes spill over with emotion while you’re rocking your noggin’ from floor and ceiling - and these musicians demand such recognition. They were not so much openers as they were simply partners-in-performance, equals on stage with the Basement. Theirs was not a one-off reunion, but, as with every performance of theirs, a promise of more to come. So rock on, you pioneers, you inspiring lady and dudes.

The only words that capture the meteoric moment that was The Basement’s set would be the flow of rhyme and rage that the MCs themselves delivered. Because, despite being, for good reason, dependent on complex lyrical expression and vocal performance, it was not a night of words.

It was a night of heads rolling with the ever-shifting tides of a set swaying between all-out mosh, and happy hip-hop grooving. Of bridal-like lines of friends waiting to speak to the musicians. Of a medley of covers, marked by N.W.A. and highlighted by Rage Against the Machine, or a guest appearance by the force of nature himself, Pudge Brewer of Fab Deuce. Of a lot of hellos, and another, single goodbye. A night where Matt, the chill, amicable guy usually working the day away in Norman Roscoe, became b.tag, a conduit of ear-splitting, impassioned rage; and Corey, a good-vibes generating teddy bear, became a tongue-wielding gunslinger, spitting flows that only S. Good could be depended on to deliver. 

There were happy moments of reconnection between songs, and many more moments of all-out war between audience and performers - though it was a struggling together, not a battling against. A war of waves, with audience roars never waning. Only the lights above the stage ever faded, during this beautiful, sweaty, love filled fest that was The Basement’s triumphant, if not temporary, return. It all began with a memory shared on Facebook, captioned with a half-joking dare: reach 100 likes, and we'll play again. 

It reached a few more than 100.

So much happened in so little time. A bright blaze goes quick to the grave, some might say. But anyone who thinks some fire died some years ago, when the Basement stopped playing shows - they were clearly wrong. And, similarly, anyone who thinks some blaze burnt out, as the embers and ashes of the night faded to drunken slumber and hungover morning, is wrong.

Because there’s so much going on, so much in the works, right now, to give hope to hearts and speed to feet, in this little town of big heads that was clearly, in its entirety, for one night, for one reuniting, redeeming, ultimate moment, crammed into this little, darling bar.

And all their little fires blazed, as we raged, raged, with an undying light.

Photos by Garrett Smith
Header image design by Shaina Sheaff