Daily Archives: April 19, 2009

Basement 414 – Unstructured Art/Music Space in Lansing, MI

I am sitting at the Basement 414 space in Lansing, MI. B414 has been going on for about a year and a half. For those of you who know me – I like places that have soul – bars, restaurants, etc that feel like they are organically grown – a place where when you walk in you get a sense, a feeling, and that feeling is defined by the current and past occupants of the space.
First off, some factual bits. B414 is alcohol-free, there is no admittance fee (donations accepted), there is no food, you can buy coffee and Faygo pop and sometimes they have popcorn, the bands are very local and they have free WiFi. There are four rooms which make up 4000 square feet of floor space. One room is the quieter room and tends to focus on art, the second room is the concert room – it can hold about 40-50 people and it is a very fun and intimate space including a dance floor, the third room is still storage, and the fourth room is the band staging area. Bands can unload their stuff and stage it in a room connected to the concert room. This allows 4-5 bands per night with a just a little down time – which leads to a lot of fun.

B414 is operated by a passionate group of local arts and IT folks who are committed to creating a friendly, comfortable accepting, tolerant space with as few rules as possible. There are few rules and everyone seems to get along and every one just cooperates with each other. The focus is being together and having a good time.
Fridays and Saturdays are the high energy days with more intense rock. Weeknights are slower – weekend day time s might be more artsy of just a place to hang out and have some coffee.
While this is a misleading description, B414 is kind of like a real-world myspace – an our-space as it were. There is fun, over the top artsy background – some music from time to time – a bunch of friends that support and point to one another – in a sense a real-world social network.
The age group is pretty much all over the map – there is not one pattern – you see kids with their parents (one band had an 8 year old drummer) high school students, college students, and old people like me as well. In a sense the very diverse nature of the crowd is a very stabilizing and calming influence. This space is not about one thing – it is about the occupants at the current moment.
They don’t promote it too much – folks usually find out about it via word-of-mouth – in a sense like MySpace itself.
If at this point, you have absolutely *no* idea what I am talking about – don’t worry – it is pretty much impossible to describe until you get to Basement 414 and experience it for yourself. In a sense, B414 is different for everyone.
For me, it is a place to take Brent’s High School friends so they can do something other than play video games all summer – they meet people, make friends, experience talent, relax, find a place where they belong, and all the while I am sitting here with my Macintosh getting some work done – at least I will get to work after I get this blog post finished.
The B414 team are really cool and relaxed – they just blend into the background – they do a good job of keeping their http://b414.org/ page up-to-date with upcoming events. To find it, go south on Cedar Street and turn into the alley on the right just south of the NutHouse and go to the end of the alley – B414 is the last door in the last building on the right side of the alley – if the door is open – it is open.