This year’s Denver Post Underground Music Showcase (UMS) may have been the biggest and best yet, and – barring the weight of the tragedy in Aurora that clouded an otherwise perfect opening night – all four days went off without a hitch.
As in previous occurrences since the festival relocated to South Broadway, The UMS invaded nearly 20 venues with upwards of 300 bands, spread out over four days from Thursday, July 19 to Sunday, July 22. Numbers are still beign tallied as far as total visitors, but the throngs in the streets and the packed, sweaty clubs told a great story of love, variety and talent that only a scene as strong and eclectic as Denver’s could support.
Each night had highlights.
Thursday’s stand-out bands included San Diego’s Mrs. Magician – who brought a smooth, Pixies-meets-Wavves sound to 3Kings Tavern – the first-ever time that Slim Cessna’s Auto Club played a UMS, Two Tone Wolf Pack, Mombi and Fairchildren. But in our opinion, the band of the night award went to Dogbreath – a Denver supergroup that played covers of Replacements songs in the Irish Rover – true, drunken, sloppy and perfectly.
We started Saturday well with Accordion Crimes and Joy Subtraction at 3Kings, crawled out to Sauna and A Place to Bury Strangers at the Goodwill stage, a solid set at the Hi-Dive from PANAL S.A. de C.V., then to the Skylark for Mark Mallman and Kissing Party, before closing down with Flashlights at Compound Basix. Sadly, we missed what by all accounts was a smokin’ set from Air Dubai, followed quickly by surprise guests Flobots, at the Hi-Dive, and a legendary blast featuring Class Actress at Compound Basix).
Atlas Sound wrapped up the night – and pretty much the festival (though some other venues had live acts going well into Monday morning) – with a brilliantly weird set of intimate freak folk.
As always, there was plenty to see besides headliners – including a small stage mounted on the back of a truck that was parked outside of 3Kings Tavern, and featured a constant Mark Star Karaoke Show on Saturday & Sunday, punctuated by performances from locals throughout the weekend. Denver City Saltlicks, with their mean, bar-fightin’ jugband punk stood out Saturday night there.
The festival itself continues to grow in size and participation, as well as in national significance and reputation every year, from when former Post writer and music lover John Moore founded it 13 years ago. It’s a fitting celebration of our tremendous scene, and this year’s momentum is sure to flow into another great one next year.
We can’t wait.