As UMS closes, fans rock out in the rain
Four-day festival, on 14 official stages, comes to end
A gentle overcast and brief spell of rain didn’t deter Sunday festivalgoers at Denver’s annual highlight reel of up-and-coming music talents, the Underground Music Showcase, where hipsters and punk rockers alike skipped down South Broadway like Christmas carolers spreading holiday cheer.
Hundreds showed up in graphic tees and mesh caps to watch acts — indie rock, R&B, jazz fusion, metal, grunge and acoustic — on 14 official stages. By 4 p.m., many venues, such as Gary Lee’s Motor Club and Grub and Illegal Pete’s, had standing-room-only.
After 30 hours of beer-flowing, venue-hopping mayhem, attendees came to the final leg of the four-day showcase with a largely unwearied enthusiasm, which could also be felt on stage.
Bands such as Denver’s Silver and Smoke seemed eager not to waste a second of their 45-minute allotment. The “Western rock” outfit brought the heat at Gary Lee’s, playing a late-afternoon set so loud that within minutes the group’s banner shook right off the wall.
The set meant the most to the band members’ parents, who bounced along to the passion-packed performance like groupies in front of the makeshift stage.
“It means a lot to have their support,” said Silver and Smoke bassist Rick Brown, whose mom sat at the bar with a cup of beer and an unflagging grin. True to the organic, amateur spirit of UMS, Brown, who has a degree in music education, hopes to use music professionally to teach children with disabilities.
At the Main Stage off Alameda Avenue, a small crowd stood through a strong series of mostly indie rock sets in the afternoon, growing gradually through the evening until a 90minute show from festival headliner Benjamin Booker.
Although most fans came not for the known brand of bigger acts but for the unexpected.
Dave Seiler of Denver attended his fourth day of UMS with an enthusiasm that hasn’t waned since his first showcase 12 years ago. He has come back to discover new acts every year since.
“UMS is my drug,” he said at 3 Kings Tavern during a thoroughly psychedelic set by the experimental jazz trio Dandu. Seiler, who has culled a deep archive of sounds from across eras and genres, likened the group to fusion rock forefathers Frank Zappa and Stanley Clarke.
“You come here to see 40 bands over a nice, long weekend,” he added. “It’s a great, great high. What could be better?”
HEMMIS performs on the main stage Sunday at the Underground Music Showcase on South Broadway in Denver.
Low Hanging Fruit performs Friday at the Hi-Dive bar on South Broadway.