UMS LINEUP HAS SOMETHING FOR EVERY MUSIC TASTE
Something for most musical preferences
Do the words “Underground Music Showcase” confuse and frighten you?
There, there. If you like live music — any live music — you have nothing to be afraid of. The UMS, which blasts off July 27-30, is a celebration of the concert, a four-day holiday of shows from a smattering of genres that doubles as a sort of family reunion for Denver’s rascally music scene. Bonus: It’s a nonprofit event. (The festival is organized by the Denver Post Foundation, a sister organization to The Denver Post that contributes to programs for arts and culture, education and other basic human services.)
That said, much of the festival’s offerings are total unknowns to everyone who doesn’t spend their weekends staked out in the city’s roiling rock clubs. With that in mind, we put together a concert guide for this year’s UMS, so you can spend less time wandering the streets of South Broadway and more time head-banging to — or thoughtfully appreciating — your genre of choice.
Rhythm is life, and life is rhythm. The UMS is a rock festival first, but if you look in the right places, you’ll find a cluster of worthy young R&B artists and a regiment of stellar jazz projects lying in wait. For the former, look to the Souls in Action-curated showcase “Friends of Sia” at the Hi-Dive all day on Sunday. Cooly understated DJ MILKY.WAV is alone worth coming in early to stake out a good spot, and you’ll definitely want to
stay for R&B divas YaSi and POVi, who share the same penchant for odd capitalization (and a hometown in Denver). They play back to back starting at 8 p.m. But another show at 9 p.m. will make for a tough choice, since Venus Cruz’s neojazz project What Young Men Do takes to the Hornet with a set that should see off the 2017 UMS on a resounding high note.
Also Don’t Miss: The Other Black (Thursday, 1 a.m., Syntax Physic Opera; Friday, 1 a.m., 3 Kings), Swank Sinatra (Friday, 1 a.m., Hi-Dive), Mawule (Sunday, 7 p.m., Illegal Pete’s)
You like your guitar licks like you like your pants: tasteful and tight, but loose enough to boogie. Might we suggest the Guilty Pleasures Records showcase at the Syntax Physic Opera, the 2017 UMS’s debutante venue? The Los Angeles-via-Denver label has almost its entire roster and then some on display on Saturday afternoon, including the Strokes-ian Panther Martin, L.A. chanteuse GVgrace and thoughtful dream rock outfit Modern Leisure. On the main stage, you’ve got options. Wildermiss will scratch that itch of wanting to hear a band before it hits it big with its first Apple commercial, or Esme Patterson if you like your indie pop laced with acerbic wit. Aldous Harding is a mainstage-sized talent, but she’s playing the teensy Hi-Dive stage, making her 11 p.m. set on Thursday an absolute can’t-miss show for anyone with a UMS wristband.
Also Don’t Miss: Vinyl (Saturday, 10 p.m., 3 Kings), Dragondeer (Sunday, 5 p.m., main stage), Bad Licks (Thursday, 10 p.m., Illegal Pete’s), Rossonian (Saturday, 12 a.m., Irish Rover)
You’re tough. Your neck is like a steel rod, strengthened after years of head banging. You have an occult tattoo on your calf. You drink sheep’s blood for fun. You want to hear distortion, screams of aggression and never-ending guitar solos. More importantly, you want to feel the devil in your bones. If that sounds right, you’ll want to head to the main stage Friday night for the UMS’s unofficial metal bacchanal. Call of the Void, which started in Boulder as Ironhorse in 2011, kicks off at 6 p.m. and is the most ruthless of the bunch. It’s followed by KHEMMIS, Planes Mistaken for Stars and Red Fang, one of this year’s four UMS headliners. You’ll also want to head to the Hi-Dive as Saturday night surrenders to Sunday morning, bringing a host of metal and hard punk bands along with it.
Also Don’t Miss: Pueblo Escobar (Saturday, 9 p.m., Hi-Dive), Necropanther (Sunday, 12 a.m., Hi-Dive), Muscle Beach (Sunday, 1 a.m., Hi-Dive)
You like to stretch the definition of what most would consider music. There’s a photo of you wearing a too-short jumpsuit and white sneakers in the desert. You either have horizontal bangs and red lipstick or you closely associate with someone who does. The weirder, the better. You need to see — nay, experience — the bands at Syntax Physic Opera Friday night. It will be a mix of ambient, experimental sounds, tape loops and distortions. The secWilliams ond band into the night, Preteen O.D. (9:30 p.m.) is a clarinet and sax duo that describes itself as “post classical” and “dungeonchamber music” that could be the soundtrack to a silent film or a younger sibling picking up a wind instrument for the first time. They’re followed by Debaser, who recorded an album in an underground cave-like structure that the artist said once hosted ghosts and a vortex. The night ends with Echo Beds.
Also Don’t Miss: déCollage (Friday, 12 a.m., Syntax: Physic Opera), Joseph Lamar (Sunday, 7 p.m., Syntax Physic Opera), Zola Jesus (Saturday, 8:30 p.m., main stage)
You’re a dancer who lives for a funky synthesizer. You end the night by sweating on the dance floor. Actually, end the night? You don’t end. Your body sways into the day. If that’s you, you’ll want to mosey over to the Irish Rover Saturday starting at 6 p.m. until, well, management kicks you out. The dancing starts with Units of Disco, which is a DJ dance set from members of Rose Quartz and Sunboy. It’ll roll into reworked forgotten ‘80s jams by Funk Hunk and then ooze into tracksuit wearing and keyboard heavy synthpop from Retrofette. The night will slow down for trance RnB by Parallelephants at 10. By the time RUMTUM comes on at 1 a.m., you’ll be warmed up and ready to bust out that weird variation on “the worm” that you’ve been working on.
Also Don’t Miss: La Pompe Futur (Thursday, 10 p.m., Hornet), Motion Trap (Friday, 10 p.m., Irish Rover), Particle Parade (Friday, 1 a.m., Irish Rover), CRL CRRLL (Friday, 12 a.m., Irish Rover)
You’re not like other people. You want something real; you want to hear someone sing a song straight out of her diary that’ll make you scribble tearfully in your own later that night. You love “Garden State,” maybe. That’s OK: We’ve got you. Start with Natalie Tate at 10 p.m. on Friday at the South Broadway Christian Church, ideal shelter throughout the weekend from what can be a storm of cranked-up rock. Tate is no secret on the Denver music scene, for good reason. That goes double for Sawmill Joe, who you might know without realizing it: His friends in The Lumineers have worked a cover of his song “Ain’t Nobody’s Problem” into many a set circa its 2012 debut album. He plays Gary Lee’s on Saturday at 10 p.m. You should come out of your shell at the main stage for Benjamin Booker, the garage-blues punk with an ear for heartrattling rock. It’s enough to shake anyone out from under their acoustic angst and into a good old-fashioned South Broadway mosh pit.
Also don’t miss: Joe Sampson (Saturday, 3 p.m., 3 Kings), Songwriters in the Round (Saturday, 12 p.m., Skylark), Songwriters Showcase (Saturday, 12 p.m., White Whale Room), Random Temple (Friday, 8 p.m., South Broadway Christian Church), Beth Preston (Sunday, 5 p.m., South Broadway Christian Church)
Denver psych rock outfit Flaural performs at the 2016 Underground Music Showcase. The band will play 3 Kings Tavern early in the morning on July 30.
Thee Oh Sees performs at the main stage at the 2016 UMS. The main stage for this year's festival is at 363 S. Broadway.
The Other Black's Wesley Watkins takes a solo at Illegal Pete's Holiday Party at the Summit Music Hall on Jan. 23. The Denver band will play two sets at this year's UMS.