By Harrison Puterbaugh
BASEMENT’S CURRENT North American tour comes after some prolonged apprehension as to the direction of the band. Officially broken up since the This is Goodbye tour and the release of the much-lauded Colourmeinkindness in 2012, it seemed certain that the moody Ipswich natives would never set foot on United States soil, and American fans were left to inferior alt-rock and infinite replays of the band’s two (fantastic) studio albums.
It came as a shock, then, when lead vocalist Andrew Fisher tweeted a simple “Hi.” from the band’s official page in 2014. The time since then has seen the release of the EP Further Sky, the full-length album Promise Everything, and the unprecedented news of a North American tour. Cue the collective orgasm of thousands of impoverished fans. Even standing in line outside the Analog Cafe last week, I could hardly believe I was actually about to see them—I had long since abandoned all hope.
However, following two not-quite-noteworthy opening acts, the dream came true. True to their aloof reputation, Basement took the stage with no sound check, no welcoming words from Fisher, only the unmistakable opening notes of “Whole.” This pattern of letting the music speak for itself continued throughout the set, which worked very well for the energy of the show, creating a euphoric momentum throughout. Like many, I was apprehensive as to how much of the set would consist of Promise Everything, which – though enjoyable – traded the angsty melodic hardcore of previous releases for a more reserved, timid sound. Any anxiety was ill-placed. The 45 minute set progressed like a greatest hits compilation. Highlights included the frenzied, percussive “Yoke” and the particularly screamy “Plan to be Surprised.” Basement made a smart choice to put what is arguably their most well-known song, “Covet,” towards the end of the set, keeping energy high as what felt like the entire audience shouted the lyrics.
I also felt that Basement had some of the best-engineered sound I had heard at such a show in a very long time. The sounds of each instrument and the vocals worked together instead of competing to be heard, and the band avoided the all-too-common mistake of turning amps up loud enough to cause distortion and harm the clarity of the sound. I was also especially impressed with Andrew Fisher’s ability to perform the entire set in a flannel shirt and hat – typical of the Analog and characteristically reserved Portland mosh pits, the space near the stage must have been 90 degrees, and the evaporated sweat in the air almost perfectly mimicked a fog machine.
Basement concluded their show without an encore, a meet-and-greet, or even a thanks, which felt in-line with their history of incurious behavior. Will this enigmatic band return again? Time alone will tell, but for any fan of the band, the genre, or general good times, Basement deserves a spot high on the list of bands to see.