Some­thing for most mu­si­cal pref­er­ences

The Denver Post - - FRONT PAGE - By Dy­lan Owens and Danika Wor­thing­ton

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)

In­die pop/rock

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)

Elec­tronic Dance

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)

Pho­tos by Matthew Whalen, Spe­cial to The Den­ver Post

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.

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