Wow. Fourteen years. Having seen the recent Reverb article on media folks looking back at the history of Denver’s Underground Music Showcase (UMS), I most connected with a quote from my friend Eryc Eyle, who recalled a conversation he had with Andy Guerro from the Flobots, who described UMS as being a lot like SXSW. “I interrupted and said we needed to stop comparing ourselves to Austin, Seattle, and Portland (Ore.), and embrace Denver’s unique awesomeness.”
Bravo Eryc. I’ve always thought the same thing. From its minor beginnings to 14 years later, with 400 some bands lined up to play over the course of four days, it still retains the uniqueness within festivals, which is bringing what is already a close-knit music community in Denver even closer. The already small clubs feel a tad smaller with people packed in and the antiquated air-conditioning units wheezing to keep up, but with a cold beer in hand and a band giving all they got on stage, everyone is sweating with big smiles.
The presence of national acts has increased over the years, including this year, with the line up including Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Blonde Redhead, Tanlines, The Men, People Under The Stairs, and Real Estate, but that doesn’t take away from the many, many local acts or a chance to discover tons of music outside of Denver and from all over the country.
As I write this from East London, I feel the first rush of being homesick since I got here three months ago. I also a sense of sadness realizing this will be the first UMS I’ve missed since I could remember. Yes, my memory is shit, but really, it has always been on my must-see calendar going many years back.
So for what it’s worth, if I were there, this would be the suggested picks for Day 1. I’ll be back tomorrow and the days following with more recommendations. Have fun for me everyone. (sniff)
Pretty indie rock with glorious and layered guitars and the vocals to match. Not to diss on Denton, but some of the best music seems to be born out of shit towns, and Pagenatry is a perfect example of this. They could easily tour with two of the headliners, Real Estate or Unknown Mortal Orchestra.
This Denver act is straight ahead punk rock, which could easily be sandwiched into a mix tape of Lagwagon, Pennywise, Op Ivy and Seaweed. Push the people in line for burritos out of the way and rock out with your bad self in front of the stage.
Most of us have only one reason once a year go to go Blue Ice – UMS. This year for the annual Underground trek it’s for Curci, who has new tracks and a new video to boot, a flow that’s suited for this summer time heat, a lyrical beat set on cruise and pure pleasure. So what if he’s not actually smoking that cigar. It’s hip-hop to the core.
This Denver legend of a band has, and in my book, always will be as much of the UMS experience as a cold drink and warm friends. Just be there already. And get in line behind all the other people that will no doubt pack out the Hi-Dive as usual.
Jermaine Smith and the Sex Party – 11:59pm – Brendan’s
For anyone in Denver who’s experienced Machine Gun Blues or one of the infamous Nelson Brother’s annual crawfish boils and thus, Jermain’s skin watch trick, this show will no doubtably be the only way to aptly wrap the first day of UMS. And who does’t love a sex party.