As UMS closes, fans rock out in the rain

Four-day fes­ti­val, on 14 of­fi­cial stages, comes to end

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By Gra­ham Am­brose

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?”

Pho­tos by Gabriel Scar­lett, The Den­ver Post

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.

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