The house lights have gone dark. The crowd, now surging towards the stage and settling into their seats, is going crazy. The band starts playing their first song. By the end of the show, the packed house has lit their cell phones for an encore (lighters are so passé) as the music rocks the arena.

Carter Vail likes the sound of that.

Carter is the lead singer and guitarist of The Basement, a Wilton-based quartet that competed in the recently completed Ridgefield BandJam at the Ridgefield Playhouse.

The winners of the BandJam came from two categories, high school and middle school. The winners, selected by a panel of judges, won a $500 gift certificate to Guitar Center, a year’s supply of Unreal Candy, a song-writing workshop from Enchanted Garden Studios, and more.

Though they did not win the coveted title, the band finished as one of the four finalists in the high school division and are looking forward to competing again next year.

The seeds for The Basement were planted when lead guitarist Ethan Michael and drummer Luke Rizzo started playing together in middle school. Carter and bass player Tyler Mirabile joined after that.

“We started in 2010 as The Basement, named after our practice and hang-out room in Tyler’s basement,” Carter said.

Music, he said, is in their blood.

“Each of us have loved playing music since we were very little, and continue to love playing in front of live audiences as well as in studios,” he added.

The band has played at venues around Wilton, including Trackside Teen Center. They have also played at the Lumberyard in West Redding, and The Space in Hamden.

Starting out like many bands, with a core fan base, The Basement has been trying to grow.

“We have been developing our fan base from our close friends, and hope to be able to share our music with as many people as possible,” Carter said.

Support is necessary for any band, and Carter’s father, Reid Vail, said he is standing firmly behind his son.

“They have such a great time doing it,” Mr. Vail said. “They all have a certain talent. They played at my friend’s 50th birthday party.”

Any concerns that the band wasn’t right for the crowd at the party were quickly put to rest.

“When I saw my friends all dancing around like a college frat party, I knew we had something,” he said. “My best friend, who was getting married, suggested that they play at their wedding.”

A visit to their website ( reveals music that is available to download, along with their taste and style. Live performances of cover songs and originals, along with a few studio tracks, are there to be heard.

“We play a mix of reggae, rock, and alternative music, being inspired by artists like Dave Matthews, Dispatch, Slightly Stoopid and State Radio,” said Carter.

The driving acoustic guitar opening of their original song, “My Street,” sounds like something the Dave Matthews Band would play.

At the same time, the band doesn’t just play their originals or covers of bands who found success in the 1990s like Sublime (“Santeria”) or Pearl Jam (“Daughter”). The band also offers a free download of their take on Wild Cherry’s “Play That Funky Music,” which was released in 1976 — needless to say, long before The Basement was formed.

“They’ve got a really nice sound,” Carter’s father said. “They’re getting quite a little following.”

While the victory wasn’t theirs at the BandJam, Mr. Vail said they found a new fan.

“One of the judges actually found them afterwards and gave them her card saying that she would love to work with them and help promote them,” he said.

Their next show is at the Lumberyard on June 15 at 8.