Thursday, September 11, 2014

UMS: A Weekend of Denver Music

For the last 14 years, Denver has put on a weekend-long music festival, the Underground Music Showcase (UMS). And I mean we're talkin a full on 400+ local and national bands playing over 15 venues/stages on South Broadway, all within walking distance of one another. So, yea, Andy and my Christmas in July.

This year UMS was July 24-27 and we attended all four days, of course. UMS is a wonderful festival for so many reasons, but topping my list is that there is such a diverse collection of musicians performing at all times, so you can take in different styles of music throughout the days. Plus, each set is only 40 minutes so each hour a new band is taking the stage at every venue. And given that most venues are just in a few block radius, you can pop in and out of multiple shows during each time slot (everyone does is, so you don't feel too rude).

Seriously. So many venues, so many wristbands. 

Band props.

Overlooking the main stage at our upstairs patio brunch.

So what were some of the 2014 highlights for us? We saw a ton of awesome live music (seriously, how great is it to watch people create music in front of you?), but there were definitely a handful that really stood out musically and performance-wise:

Astronautalis, OBVIOUSLY. I've mentioned a couple of times here and here that I effing love his music. And I've made it clear to Andy that, should the occasion present itself (it won't), I would be leaving him for Astronautalis. He was playing the main stage, and was one of the biggest reasons I had to go to UMS this year. 


Kithkin was one of Andy's favorites, and he played their CD non-stop following the show! The band packed a bunch of musicians up on the teeny Skylark stage, and completely rocked out! They had this intoxicating energy and excitement for what they do, and that made for a truly entertaining set.

I seriously could not get a good photo of these guys cuz they were moving so much they were mostly blurry monsters.

SF1 is a show I resisted going to, but Andy (luckily!) insisted. They call their style of music "intelligent hip hop" and typically, other than Astronautalis and Doomtree, I say no to hip hop. But SF1 is truly good and engaging musically, and so much fun to see live with all the energy and crowd interaction they put into their show! Oh, and, there was tap dancing. Yea.

Sharing the bongos with the crowd! Make some music!

Chimney Choir is a Denver based band that Andy and I have been meaning to see live for years. The have this Cloud Cult-like music style with the dreamy feel to the vocals and instruments. And they have this performance feel to their shows too which makes for a lovely experience seeing them live.

Shawn James and the Shapeshifters was a really surprising find for us at UMS! We showed up to the venue and saw a bunch of gruff-looking motorcycle guys, and were expecting a rock or metal show. I was super pumped when they started playing and it was more of a rock bluegrass style, way more up my alley! And super good.

The Griswolds was Andy's #1 most favorite at UMS. I was so sleepy at the show, so I don't totally remember it other than trying to snap back into it. Which is a huge bummer cuz Andy just got their debut album, and I love it and wish I remembered their show (Andy tells me it was awesome). Plus, I didn't get any photos.

So, yea, we had a pretty good July weekend at UMS!

Until next year, UMS.


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