Look­ing for a new fa­vorite band»

The Denver Post - - DENVER & THE WEST - By Dy­lan Owens

For Den­ver’s cu­ri­ous mu­sic mavens, Christ­mas in July was in full swing on Fri­day night thanks to the 17th an­nual Un­der­ground Mu­sic Show­case, the lo­cally fo­cused mu­sic fes­ti­val that fash­ions a dozen stages out of the bars, park­ing lots and even a church along South Broad­way.

In lieu of gifts, fes­ti­val­go­ers come to the UMS — a Den­ver Post Com­mu­nity Foun­da­tion-or­ga­nized, non­profit event — in search of mo­ments.

Lafayette’s Charles Smith, 33, came to 3 Kings Tav­ern af­ter work on a rainy, gray Fri­day evening in hopes that who­ever was play­ing at that time might be­come his new fa­vorite band.

“The best mu­si­cal dis­cov­er­ies are when you have no ex­pec­ta­tions,” Smith said, shak­ing off the work­week to Serf and James, out of Napa, Calif., with a tall can of beer in hand.

In that sense, the UMS is as much a gift for the fes­ti­val’s artists, who get the chance to pull the ears of wrist­band-wearing passers-by.

Den­ver-based alt-soul out­fit Ghost Tapes man­aged just that with their set at the Sky­lark Lounge on Fri­day evening, ef­fec­tively con­vert­ing a room of strangers into dot­ing fans in the span of 45 min­utes.

“The at­ten­tion is un­ex­pected but wel­come,” said front­woman Ishka Phoenix, 25, who chan­neled Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes of fe­male 1990s R&B trio TLC and sported a cat-ear hair­band in her set. “I’m a bit of an ex­hi­bi­tion­ist.”

The rev­elry peaked early Satur­day at 3 Kings Tav­ern with a funk fête thrown by The Other Black, a loosely or­ga­nized and highly hyped party band led by mu­si­cal re­nais­sance man Wes­ley Watkins. With a healthy reg­i­ment of horns that fanned out through­out the crowd to start the set, Watkins chal­lenged those still on their feet — the set ended at 2 a.m. — to move them.

Come Satur­day af­ter­noon, many of those hit­ting the floor hours early were still hit­ting the sack. Thanks to rowdy post-punk band Jane Doe, 3 Kings Tav­ern sounded like a party at noon, but only a cou­ple dozen peo­ple were there to ab­sorb the bed­lam.

Jux­ta­pose that with the hun­dreds of giddy young mu­sic fans lined up for the op­por­tu­nity to buy mer­chan­dise from — and pos­si­bly catch a glimpse of — rap­per Ken­drick La­mar, whose one-day-only popup shop took over South Broad­way cloth­ing stores Ab­stract and Sneaks less than a block away. A 17year-old fan from Utah near the front of the line had been wait­ing since 4:30 a.m. to buy the mer­chan­dise from La­mar’s world tour, which stopped in Den­ver’s Pepsi Cen­ter on Satur­day night. (He had heard of the UMS but wasn’t at­tend­ing the fes­ti­val.)

Over at the Ir­ish Rover, a block north of the line, Kansas City, Mo.’s Sherry Butts knew about La­mar. But she came to South Broad­way to hear some­thing she didn’t al­ready know.

“So far, I like them the best,” Butts said, nod­ding her head along with the healthy crowd packed in to catch the Den­ver folk-pop out­fit Edi­son. “I think I’ll stay here for a cou­ple of hours.”

Gabriel Scar­lett,the Den­ver Post

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