The New Basement Transmissions
This is what's next for Erie's live music scene
Since 2011, Basement Transmissions has been the go-to hot spot for Erie's underground music scene. Other venues like Midtown Oh-Five and the Bearded Lady came and went, and Forward Hall even came out of retirement for a brief moment, but the BT has stood its ground, becoming the backbone of alternative culture in Erie.
Driving down State Street, Basement Transmissions is easily recognized by the set of giant wooden fangs bearing its name, and sticks out like a sore thumb (or perhaps a middle finger) against every other venue that requires patrons to be over certain age to enjoy live music.
The current location at 1501 State St. sets an ideal atmosphere for many of the shows featuring local underground – and other relatively unknown – bands. The tightknit walls can make a crowd of fewer than 50 feel like a packed house, and the small stage brings the bands closer to the audience, making for an intensely intimate musical experience.
With owner Bob Jensen making Erie Reader's 40 Under 40 list this year, it's clear that Basement Transmissions is doing well and that the all-ages venue is doing notable, great things for the city's local music scene.
Yet all good things must come to an end.
Only this time, it's to make way for bigger and better things to come.
In the near future, you will no longer be able to drive by and admire those giant wooden fangs outside the window. You will however, be able to see them behind the stage at the new Basement Transmissions at 145 W.11th St.
The former Roadhouse Theatre has a bigger stage and more room than the current BT, and with a McDonalds right next door, it's reminiscent of The Hangout (RIP) in Edinboro where it was tradition for show-goers and band members to flock to the neighboring Taco Bell between sets.
Another comparison to former local venues, such as The Hangout and Forward Hall, is the question as to whether this newer venue will be able to draw more popular and well-known bands – in turn drawing larger attendances and a stronger scene.
"I am not hoping that it will bring bigger touring bands – I know it will" Jensen boasts. "We will be making some changes to ensure that it does. Also, this space is bigger and better than Forward Hall, hands down. Basement Transmissions is about to set a new standard for shows here in Erie."
It's important to remember that BT is not only about music, but that it serves as a haven for artists as well. Painters, sculptors, photographers, and more all have been – and will continue to be, Jensen says – welcomed with open arms and encouraged to share their work with everyone, a concept not to be lost at the new location.
"We will be focusing more on art in the new location," Jensen confirms. "Our goal is to set up a student gallery, and a professional gallery."
Jensen also mentioned that he and his staff are hoping to eventually get involved in art education, and that they will be accepting art submissions in July.
If you find yourself asking "what can I do to help?", fundraiser shows will be held this weekend on June 6 and 7 to help raise money for repairs and other costs that will all go towards the new venue.
In the last four years, I – and many others – have seen the coming and going of several venues, literally investing our sweat and blood into places with uncertain futures. We can finally sigh in relief that we now have a place we know can last.
"The old spot was a great place to start to rebuild the scene here" Jensen says. "We all will never forget it, and it will live on in our hearts for what it was. The new spot has much, much more to offer. Mark my words on that. This is the spot!"
Tommy Shannon can be contacted at TommyXShannon@Gmail.com, and you can follow him on Twitter @txkx.