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UMS Day 1 – Royal Bangs, Gauntlet Hair, Izcalli, El Ten Eleven, Water Babys

Time is flying and so will most people I know when the annual Underground Music Showcase ( kicks off Thursday, July 21. I hope to see the event’s organizer with a full head of hair, if he hasn’t pulled it all out by then. This music festival in Denver has grown significantly over the years and in 2011, the event boasts over 300 bands. So pack your ear plugs and get out your comfortable shoes, ’cause there are four fun-filled-non-stop-music days ahead of us. Here are my picks for Day 1.

Izcalli – 8PM – Club 404

Music in the Latin realm — from the shoegazer styles of Nudozurdo, the garage rock carbonation of Capsula, Encanto’s indie-pop to the palpitations of Bomba Estéreo — has expanded by leaps and bounds over the last ten years, so it’s reassuring to see Denver’s drawn Izcalli, three members originally from México (guessing it’s in the area of Cuautitlan, Izcalli) as the band’s home base.

Izcalli’s “Amor Real” (listen via Steal This Track on Soundcloud) drives the guitar strings tightly down the heated pavement, and as “Valgo Por Dos” emerges, the horn seems to play to an empty, dusty square before people emerge to send the song’s notes into a frenzy.


Gauntlet Hair – 9PM – Hi-Dive

Gauntlet Hair has been on my ‘must see live’ list for some time now and I have to say I’m pretty excited that this time for sure, I’ll be catching their show. June was a busy month for the electronic indie duo (Andy R. and Craig Nice) with an opening slot for SF’s Dodos and then venturing to Canada to play NXNE in Toronto, where they again played with The Dodos, along with Deerhoof.

According to their written-in-2-seconds bio on Myspace, an album is in the works. But that could have been written last year, so who knows. I am guessing they have more tracks in their hip pocket than the three in the Myspace playlist, but each one is a banger, featuring that “recorded in a bathroom” vintage echo, complementing vocals and musical layers that takes you on a trip through The Hacienda in Manchester, down to the Bowery with Suicide, and then back to Denver’s Rhinoceropolis where I believe it all began.

Gauntlet Hair — I Was Thinking


Royal Bangs – 11PM – Hi Dive

Going on seven years now, Knoxville’s Royal Bangs has been dishing out a bevy of rambunctious, sun-filled, rock-on-a-rooftop music that’s kept the group on the road, especially after the debut release in 2008, We Breed Champions.

Last year’s Flux Outside is a charge of caffeine for the soul, track to track, with rapid change ups on “Bull Elk” to the luminescent and sparkling “Grass Helmet” that most reflects the influence of the album’s producer, Scott Minor, former member of Sparklehorse.

Vocalist Ryan Schaefer, drummer Chris Rusk and guitarist Sam Stratton come through Denver for The UMS as part of a few dates in the states during July and August before they head overseas for the Reading and Leeds music festivals. With the cool fall breezes comes a U.S. tour with We Were Promised Jetpacks, but alas Denver is not included (of course) so you best see them this Thursday.

Royal Bangs – Grass Helmet by Glassnotemusic


Electro and Dance Heads (like me) –

Just five seconds into “Jumping Frenchmen Of Maine” by El Ten Eleven will make you sweat, even if you heard it in the dead of winter. They play Hi-Dive right after Royal Bangs at 11:55pm.


Water Babys uploaded an “album teaser” to Soundcloud a few weeks back that either on purpose or ironically, emulates underwater klunking noises, as if they were attempting to play a kid’s xylophone in the pool. What caught my attention was their remix of Cold War Kids’ “Hang Me Out To Dry.” Water Babys play Delite at 10pm.

Hang Me Up to Dry (feat. Goldminer) [Cold War Kids Cover] by Water Babys


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