Tag: The UMS 2010
Day four of the UMS began for us a little later than the day before. The rest of the festival was wearing on us, and we struggled to get to the Baker Neighborhood by 4:00pm. Once we got there, however, the music got us excited again. The day started off with The Conjugal Visits at TS Board Shop. This punk band didn’t have a huge crowd, but those of us who were there really enjoyed the sincere and energetic and incredibly catchy punk music we heard. Next up was The Photo Atlas at the Goodwill stage, filling in for an illness-riddled Hello Kavita. Dancy and passionate, The Photo Atlas is always enjoyable to see. We were sad to miss Hello Kavita’s last show for awhile, but the set put on by The Photo Atlas was a nice consolation.
Next, we crossed Broadway to The Irish Rover, to see Bela Karoli. We hadn’t seen Julie Davis and company for quite a while, and were happy to enter the, literally, overflowing bar to see them. Charming as always, the group always delights with it’s musicality and its relaxed attitude. After a fun and relaxing set, we walked down to the Hi-Dive for some auditory whiplash with Tjutjuna. Loud and weird, we loved this set. Their epic soundscapes filled the venue and the audience seemed to deeply appreciate the music. The only problem was the mere half-hour set, which left us calling for more.
Next, we trekked the 10 minute walk to Club 404 to see Old Radio. This shoegaze group was absolutely excellent. Powerful and well-crafted songs made Old Radio one of our new favorite Denver bands, and we hope they continue to play.
After this set, however, the festival caught up to us and we were too tired to continue. As I drove back to Golden after the Old Radio set, feet and back aching and my ability to appreciate live music temporarily destroyed, it struck me how amazing the Denver music scene really is. Certainly at this year’s UMS, we saw bands which are always fun to see and which we’ll check out every time we can. But there were also bands we’d never heard of that kept us more than entertained. I don’t think we saw a single bad set all weekend, and we certainly saw a fair share of amazing ones. Denver has an amazing set of creative and motivated musicians which make it possible for something like the UMS to be as successful as it was.
Saturday began at the Goodwill stage with Houses. Having missed their set the previous night, I was excited to see them again. While it was certainly a worthwhile set, the previous night (and the illness which had broken out among certain Houses members) had an obvious affect on the band’s performance. Normally engaging and fun, this set seemed tired. With this slight disappointment and because we’d seen Houses so often, we headed across the street to Michelangelo’s Coffee & Wine Bar for Eleanor. An acoustic solo set, the music was fresh and relaxing. It coupled perfectly with the relaxed atmosphere of the venue, and was very enjoyable.
We continued on, next to Maudlin at Illiterate Magazine. This trio paired catchy hooks with wall-of-sound techniques for a very interesting combination. Though not a style we’d often heard, it was very enjoyable to listen to. After a brief dinner at the Walnut Room, where the sundry tones of Rob Drabkin filled the air, we continued on to Jim McTurnan and the Kids that Killed the Man. Among our favorite Denver bands, McTurnan and crew were as delightful as always on Saturday. The group’s interesting and powerful songs filled the Hi-Dive much to the delight of entertained fans.
Following McTurnan’s set, we couldn’t refuse seeing fellow-Golden residents, The Gromet. Bluesy, fun, and excited, it’s always fun to see this group. Their music matched well with the venue – The Irish Rover – and we enjoyed the 3 or 4 songs of theirs we stayed for. After the Gromet, we crossed the street to the Goodwill parking lot to see The Heyday. Always an enjoyable act to see, The Heday are certainly good at what they do. Next, we walked down to TS Board Shop for Seattle’s Tea Cozies. At first, the group intoxicated us with their charm. By the end of the 4 or 5 songs we heard them play, they had won us over with their talent and musicality.
Next, we went back to the Hi-Dive for Porlolo. Always a fun show, Porlolo certainly delivered on Saturday. Though it was their second set of the weekend, the energy Erin Roberts carries with her carried through at the Hi-Dive. After a few songs from the band, we were off to the Goodwill parking lot stage for Snake Rattle Rattle Snake. Driven by pounding beats from dual shockingly-in-sync percussionists, Snake combines dance rhythms with a walloping bass-line and passionate guitar playing and singing to great effect. The outdoor stage, however, wasn’t a great setting for this group which is more suited to a room overflowing with excited and sweaty people than a roomy, slightly cool parking lot. That aside, the set was excellent as always.
After a quick bite to eat, we entered a packed Hi-Dive to see Gregory Alan Isakov. We overheard a fan describing Isakov as “a combination of Leonard Cohen and Iron and Wine” before the show, and the performance lived up to that expectation. The music was powerful, while retaining its relaxed quality, and it was among our favorite sets of the night. Playing at the same time, at the Goodwill parking lot stage, were the Flobots. While the music the group plays is among my least favorite in the Denver (or national) scene, they certainly know how to put on a show. The parking lot was packed for the act and the audience hung on every movement of the 7-piece group. Their musicianship was more than quality and the set was a fun experience, despite my opinions on their music.
Next, we heard the end of the Radical Knitting Circle’s act at the Skylark – while not enough was heard to make a proper judgment, the group seemed interesting enough to take another look in the future. Next at the Skylark was Lubbock’s Thrift Store Cowboy. The group masterfully combined their Texas western roots with indie rock. Steel guitar was matched with traditional rock riffs and at-time haunting singing. A sound unlike anything I’d ever heard, we were surprised – very pleasantly – by the group.
Next, we continued on to the Hi-Dive for their last set of the night, The Widow’s Bane. We’d not heard of this Boulder-based group before Saturday night, but were excited to find out what they were all about. When a group, dressed as 1700s zombies came on stage, we knew seeing this set was a good idea. The group’s music was simultaneously Irish folk music and Tom Waits. The huge crowd enjoyed themselves greatly, and everyone in the Hi-Dive seemed to be dancing.
Finally, we returned to the Mayan Theater for the last set of the night – Ukulele Loki’s Gadabout Orchestra. The music was self-described “indie acoustic chamber pop,” but the act was more of a vaudeville show than anything. It included circus performers doing their acts to music, as well as singular music performances. While it was obvious that the act was very good and interesting, it was too laid back for 1:30am after a day of a music festival, and we left halfway through the act. The crowd was obviously not very into it either. It was a good idea, and a cool act, but should’ve been put at a different time.
Friday night’s festivities began a little earlier than Thursday’s, and before 7:00pm hit, we were at the Goodwill Parking Lot stage to see blog favorite Danielle Ate the Sandwich. Her set was different than any other set we’d seen her play; sometimes-present band member and double bass player Dennis joined Danielle on stage, as well as a new addition, violinist Chris. While this has been the standard line-up since her new CD came out in early July, it was the first we’d seen of it. The addition of violin and bass added new layers to the music, and, musically, it was possibly the best DAtS show we’d ever seen. However, the awkward charm so often present in previous shows was lessened with the addition of new musicians. Still, things like a cover of Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance along with great new songs made this a fun and charming way to start day two of the UMS.
We briefly walked across the parking lot to see Paper Bird’s second set of the weekend. They were much more at home outdoors, and the few songs we heard were fun and got the modest crowd excited. Having seen most of the songs they played the night before, we went to the TS Board Shop stage to see Accordion Crimes. The group was, as always, incredibly tight. Last time we saw them, some technical issues plagued their set. Those issues being gone greatly added to the performance.
We went next to the Hi-Dive to see, we thought, Kaiser Cartel. However, despite the indication of the UMS pamphlet, Kaiser Cartel was not playing, Dust on the Breakers taking their place (it should be noted that the UMS website noted this change and signs were posted near the box office). Despite the change in bands, it was very enjoyable to hear this band we’d previously not seen.
When 9:00pm hit, we returned to the Goodwill parking lot to see John Common and the Blinding Flashes of Light. The last time we saw this group, it was a super-intense performance. This time, however, was much more relaxed. Still a good performance musically, it lacked the passion we’d come to expect from this band. As such, we wandered back up Broadway, and were immediately attracted to the unrealistically loud music blaring out of Rock the Cradle. Lil’ Slugger (the only band with its own comic book that we know of) was sending its pseudo-punk sounds for at least a block in every direction. While the extreme volume was a good addition to the style of music, the music could have stood on its own. We spent as long as we could in the area before our eardrums burst, and before we knew it, 10:00pm had come.
While The Knew was playing at the Hi-Dive, the huge line coming out of the venue inspired us to find some new groups we’d never heard. As such, we headed down to the Skylark to see Pink Hawks. The crowd was up an moving at this lounge-roots group; while not our favorite type of music, it was obvious that the group was good at what they did. After a few songs, we did some browsing, stopping by each of the venues we passed. Doing this let us catch a song or two by Chris Adolf (of Bad Weather California), Story of the Sea, and Lion Sized. While none of these acts were mind-blowing, the ability to see better-than-average music every few steps was among my favorite parts of the UMS. Any time there wasn’t a group I particularly wanted to see, I could simply walk in a venue in search for a new band to love.
With the line to the Hi-Dive still too long to see These United States (and, eventually, Houses), we wondered around Broadway for a few hours, catching bits and pieces of some spectacular sets. These included Git Some, Hoots and Hellmouth, the Outfit, TaunTaun, and Coles Whalen. Finally, after a number of great sets and a musical break, we wondered into the Mayan Theater for the Nathan & Stephen reunion show. The show was supposed to start around 12:30, which is when the lobby of the Mayan started filling up. However, Houses was playing with two members of Nathan and Stephen. Finally, after a set by local comedian/musician Magic Cyclops, and well after 1:00am, the band took the stage. The high-energy set was well worth the wait. The group played a full set, and ended after around 2:15, but the audience and band seemed to want to keep going forever. This set was the perfect end to the first two nights of the UMS and got us extremely excited for the weekend stretch of the festival.
Day one of the UMS is always a little more relaxed than the rest of the festival. Only 8 venues featured music Thursday night (compared to 22 on Friday, 24 on Saturday, and 15 on Sunday) and shows didn’t start until 8:00pm. Even so, it was one of the most eventful and exciting Thursday nights I’ve had in recent memory. Despite staying between Ellsworth Ave and Cedar Ave (read: between the Hi-Dive and the Skylark) the whole night, I managed to catch at least segments of 8 or 9 (mostly great) sets and explore the wonderful Baker neighborhood; It was a great way to start one of Denver’s best weekends.
I started off my night at the Skylark Lounge for Fort Collins’s Sour Boy, Bitter Girl. This indie-folk band performed really well, and was a good start for the UMS – a local band who shows their passion for music each time they play, reminiscent of all the great local bands performing this weekend. After the FoCo group, I strolled to the Hi-Dive to see the solo act of Jeremy Messersmith. Messersmith started off his set playing acoustic guitar and singing over a recorded drum beat. His relaxed tunes at times channeled Neil Simon.
After 4 or 5 songs of Messersmith, I decided to head back to the Skylark and check out FoCo band Paean. This group was very intriguing; featuring occasionally non-standard instruments (at one point, there were 3 guitars, a violin, and a bass on stage), the band made a lot of noise. They created brilliantly-structured soundscapes, and filled the Skylark with their avant-rock sounds. I when Paean had finished, I stuck around for Good Evening Titan. Their bright and poppy melodies were another great addition to the night’s shows. I had never heard this group before, but am looking forward to seeing their dancy and upbeat guitar and synth-driven music again.
Next, I ventured back to the Hi-Dive for Shapes Stars Make!, a band from Texas which gave my favorite set of the night. The group draws easy comparison to Explosions in the Sky, if Explosions occasionally sang. Despite their similarity, watching the intensity with which they played was fantastic. I was very sad when they stopped play, after having only heard a few of their songs.
Because Shapes Stars Make! had finished a bit earlier than expected, I was able to catch The Swayback at 3 Kings Tavern. The venue was packed, filled with fans who fully appreciated the energetic punk-rock sounds of the group. After a few songs, however, their set was also over, and it was back to the Skylark for SLS-favorite Candy Claws.
I’ve seen Candy Claws a number of times this summer, heard reviews from friends of their recent sets in Chicago and Somerville, MA, and each time it seems like their a different – but better – band. The dream-pop landscapes they produce are joyous and relaxing, and it seems like they’re finally getting their due. The Skylark was absolutely packed with people eager, and pleased, to hear FoCo’s newest buzz band.
After a great Candy Claws set, we stuck around for Roger Roll. Eric Peterson (who will have played at least 5 sets when the UMS ends on Sunday and receives the honor of Denver’s hardest working musician) fronts this band, which also features Corey Teruya (of Hello Kavita) on bass and a viola and cello. We saw Roger Roll not too long ago at the Hi-Dive, where potential for brilliance was obvious, with the performance not quite matching the song-writing. At the Skylark, however, the group was much more cohesive and the beautifully-written lived up to their promise. It’s exciting to hear such deliberately well-crafted songs, and I’m looking forward to more Roger Roll music in the future.
Finally, it was back to the Hi-Dive for one last band – Paper Bird. As always, this Americana band is fun to listen to and a joy to see live. The Hi-Dive at midnight, however, wasn’t the sort of place where they really shine through. So, after a long first day at the UMS, I ventured back to Golden after 4 or 5 Paper Bird songs, excited to hear them again later on Friday.
Words and photos by Jake Rezac. More coverage from the UMS to come…
via Rande Kamolz
This will be brief, but still necessary (especially since I said I would write about “how” to do the UMS).
EAT: One of the best parts of The UMS is that it’s in a neighborhood. There’s no inflated music-festival economy with outrageous prices on food. Some of my picks for good eats in Baker include Persian Gourmet and, of course, Sputnik. If you can swing getting in to Sputnik between 11pm and 1am, they’ve got a great food-happy hour.
DRINK: Last year I think I drank so many Fuze fruit drinks that my body chemistry was permanently changed. Whoever the sponsors are, they’re pretty gung-ho about getting their products inside you. I don’t know if they’re doing it again this year, but Indy Ink had a keg and Hi-Dive (and most of the other bars) had UMS drink specials (mostly relating to the alcohol sponsers).
BE MERRY: You heard me, have fun. If you can manage to skip out on your other responsibilities go for it! This will ensure that you will have plenty of time to eat, sleep, and see bands.
By the time Sunday rolls around chances are you’re going to be on the verge of passing out from exhaustion. Drink some coffee and cram down another slice of cheap pizza, it’s time for the final set of SLS picks for the UMS.
SUNDAY, JULY 25
Hello Kavita (Goodwill parking lot, 4:30pm): 2009′s To A Loved One was one of my favorite records of the year (regardless of the fact that Hello Kavita is a local group). Catch their set if you dig Wilco, Neil Young, or the like. Edit: As pointed out in the comments, Hello Kavita is going on hiatus following this performance, so don’t miss it!
Tjutjuna (Hi-Dive, 6pm): Spacey and loud, Tjutjuna will have you coming back for more. This group recently released a record called Conch Shell for free via their blog.
Old Radio (Club 404, 7pm): If shoegaze is your thing, then don’t miss Old Radio. They’re a bit of a local super group with a veritably stacked lineup. Unfortunately they’re not the only ones to see at 7.
Arliss Nancy (Skylark, 7pm): Another group from Fort Collins making their mark on the scene in Denver, Arliss Nancy has a raw sound that’s just as country as it is rock-and-roll (and perhaps a little punk too).
The Jim Jims (Club 404, 10pm): She’s drunk, you’re horny; why not have some fun and see The Jim Jims? Their set at Patrick Kelly’s apartment party was a highlight of one of the best parties I went to last year.
Woodsman (Hi-Dive, 11:55pm): Sometimes they’re spacey and ambient; sometimes they’ve got a driving tribal beat. Woodsman always manages to keep things fresh, something Pitchfork recently picked up on (but we’ve been talking about for months already). Also, their set is the last one of the entire week’s festivities, so if you haven’t passed out yet, it would be a good idea to go.
Just like the last post, this is who I would suggest seeing at the UMS. Note that some of these bands play more than once, so there is ample opportunity to see them. Others, however, only play once, so give them priority. The full lineup is available here.
SATURDAY, JULY 24
Eleanor (Michelangelo’s, 3pm): As one of those groups with a large, orchestral feel, it’ll be interesting seeing them play in a small space like Micelangelo’s. If it’s all packed out, Houses is playing the Goodwill lot at the same time.
Jim McTurnan & The Kids That Killed The Man (Hi-Dive, 5pm): Jim and the Kids have gained some national attention (including a spot at CMJ) while figuring out how to be a 3 piece. However, cameo appearances from other local musicians are not entirely out of the question.
Tea Cozies (TS Boardshop, 6pm): I recall seeing Seattle’s Tea Cozies at Everyday Joe’s several years ago, maybe it’s time to give them another listen. Also, if you’re going to be stuck in Ft. Collins on July 23 they are playing at Road 34 with Kaiser Cartel (see previous UMS preview post) and Fierce Bad Rabbit.
Hideous Men (Indy Ink, 6:30pm): If you haven’t seen anything experimental by Saturday afternoon then you’re doing the UMS wrong. Rectify that situation with Hideous Men (and while your at it, help them out since their gear was just stolen. Night of Joy is playing a benefit show for Hideous Men July 31 at the Megahouse).
American Tomahawk (Illiterate Magazine, 7pm): If Young Coyotes and The Photo Atlas had a baby it would literally be American Tomahawk. However, don’t expect anyone in this group to be playing their normal instruments.
Consider The Raven (Moe’s BBQ, 11:55pm): Just for total transparency, I am personal friends with the Consider The Raven folks. However, that doesn’t diminish the fact that you should see them close out the night at Moe’s. Just like Friday’s final time slot, there are a few other great ways to finish Saturday: Ukulele Loki (Mayan), Dualistics (Club 404), or The Pirate Signal (The Import Warehouse).
Before I get to the question “How?” there’s the little matter of who to see at this year’s UMS. While this list is by no means a picking of “who’s hot and who’s not,” it might be useful for those not well versed in the Colorado music scene. This post covers the first two days, July 22-23.
THURSDAY, JULY 22
Act So Big Forest Showcase (Skylark, 7pm-12am): Featuring some of the best music that Fort Collins has to offer, the Act So Big Forest collective has their own showcase during the UMS. Swing by the Skylark any time on Thursday to catch the likes of Good Evening Titan, Paean, Sour Boy Bitter Girl, and Candy Claws. Roger, Roll will be closing out the evening’s showcase.
Hot White (3 Kings, 9pm): Don’t be surprised if somebody gets a beer thrown at them during Hot White’s set. The trio packs quite a punch and doesn’t take crap from anybody.
Ian Cooke Band (Hi-Dive, 11pm): The always enjoyable Ian Cooke will be playing a full band set. Hopefully he’ll play “Spicy Chicken Crunchwrap Supreme” or whatever that song is actually called.
Paper Bird (Hi-Dive, 11:55pm): Why not end the evening feeling joyful? Paper Bird takes on the Hi-Dive’s closing spot on Thursday but will also play a set at 7:30 pm on Friday at the Goodwill lot stage.
FRIDAY, JULY 23
A Mouthful of Thunder (TS Boardshop, 6:30pm): We haven’t actually had a chance to see Stephen Till’s newest musical project since Hearts of Palm broke up (and started playing again). However, hopes are high for what AMoT’s MySpace page dubs “Christian Rap/Punk/Regional Mexican.”
Action Packed Thrill Ride (Club 404, 7pm): Last time I saw Action Packed Thrill Ride my roommate got me really drunk. As I try to recall, it was pretty great; although the morning after was a bit rough. Maybe this time we’ll all be a little more sober (or maybe not?).
Kaiser Cartel (Hi-Dive, 8pm): I saw KaiserCartel a couple times during last year’s UMS. The Brooklyn-based duo is one of the few out-of-town acts playing, so be sure to catch this set.
Lil Slugger (Brown Barrel Tavern, 9pm): These guys are the only band I know that has their own series of comics. Also, a free full length album to download via Hot Congress.
11:55pm: Take Your Pick: Why do they always do this? There are definitely more than 4 bands I’d like to see all playing at the same time. Oh well, catch them if you can. Houses (Hi-Dive), Achille Lauro (Club 404), Fellow Citizens (Skylark), Young Coyotes (Irish Rover) and more.
The five classic questions that every journalist must ask are: “Who? / What? / When? / Why? / How?” Over the course of a few posts I hope to answer those questions in advance of the 10th annual Underground Music Showcase. To keep things straightforward, here’s the quick-and-dirty.
What? (with some Where?) South Broadway’s Baker neighborhood has always been a hub for great music in Denver. Whether it’s the Brooklyn-inspired Hi-Dive, the more punk rock 3 Kings Tavern, or any number of other bars and venues, there’s always a good show going on. Unlike LoDo, you won’t see people who look like they just came off the set of Jersey Shore. Rather, most patrons and shopkeepers tend to keep a low profile and a friendly attitude. It makes complete sense that this would be the setting for one of the city’s most prominent summer music festivals.
As far as the Underground Music Showcase (UMS) is concerned, it has developed into what some would say (yours truly included) is “the greatest music festival in Denver.” Marking its 10th year, the UMS has greatly expanded from a one night affair into a four day marathon of live music and revelry.
This year’s festival will bring the same SXSW-style atmosphere as seen in previous years, however there will be a few additions including industry panel discussions, a pre-UMS trivia night (co-sponsored by Geeks Who Drink), burlesque shows and more (click here for more details).
When? July 22-25, 2010. While staying out until 1 am on a Thursday night might sound like a poor decision, don’t let your work-related conscious deceive you! Some of the best happenings of the UMS occur during the first couple days, before the weekend crowds descend.
Why? This is perhaps the most important question. Why are events like the UMS important? The simple answer: discovery. It’s not about paying nearly $200 for a ticket (just $30 for all 4 days until July 21) or paying $2000 for a beer (the local shops and restaurants stay open throughout the festivities), rather, it’s about finding a new band or simply finding out how sleep deprived and exhausted you can become before passing out.
Stay tuned for more coverage as SLS dives in to the schedules for each day and examines the bands that should not be missed. Photos all via Tim Weilert at the 2009 UMS. From top to bottom: Dan Kaufman Superstar Eruption, Langhorne Slim, Rabbit Is A Sphere, Everything Absent or Distorted.
Here’s your chance to spend that holiday-gift money that’s been burning a hole in your pocket for the last few weeks: the 10th Annual Underground Music Showcase! Even though the festival is not until late July, tickets went on sale today and there are some things that you need to know. First off, buy early because the price steadily increases until the first day of the festival. Right now a 4-day wristband will only put you back $20. New to this year’s festival is a VIP badge (only $50 right now), which will let you cut lines and party it up at special VIP-only events.