During my senior year of high school, I was invited to my first “basement show.” They are not for everyone, but if they are for you, it’s one of the coolest experiences you will ever have.

In high school, I was always grouped with the “good kids” and the “hardworking” students. I was never really a part of the group that partied on the weekends. When I was invited to my first basement show in Magnolia, New Jersey, my world flipped upside-down, but for the better.

All basement shows normally consist of a few things:

1. LOUD music

I’m not over exaggerating. One time I went to a show and could not hear out of my right ear for 3 days. Word of advice: bring earplugs. I now carry a bag of them in my car at all times.

2. Technical difficulties

This all depends on where the show is at and whose equipment is being used. Because equipment gets expensive, friends tend to borrow or move it around from show to show. While it’s traveling in the back of someone’s van or getting carried around, it can get damaged which leads to the random cut outs of microphones and amplifiers.

3. Musical acts

Every basement show that I’ve been to has either been all hard-rock/metal, all acoustic, or a mix of both. Most of the bands are local which creates a unified community atmosphere. At the same time, I’ve seen bands travel all the way from Ohio to New Jersey to perform. It just makes the small world feel a little bigger and the taste of music more diverse.

4. A “bouncer”

I use quotes because it normally is a guy who is hosting the show. He just keeps track of who paid to get in and makes sure nothing gets too out of control.

5. A crowded basement

Hence the term, “basement show.” Normally the shows are held in smaller houses, which means smaller basements. The crowd is packed downstairs like sardines. There is no room for any mosh pits, but there is always room for some head banging. On certain occasions, the shows are hosted at small local venues. For example, a dance studio was used for a show that supported Stop the Heroin.

6. Guys with long hair

It’s a look. Grunge is back, baby.

7. Some of the greatest people you will ever meet

I love the people that are at basement shows. We all go to hear great music, support local bands, and feel something that you can’t get anywhere else. It is truly a unique atmosphere. You can’t get this feeling at any normal party or concert. It’s a group of unified, music-loving, broke, outcasts; and they are some of the most beautiful people I know.

Now that I’m in college? An incredible group of these people has come together and started their own club. The basement show scene has made its way to my university and I couldn’t be more excited to meet these people that are just as passionate about live local music as I am.