The 2017 Underground Music Showcase Brought Together Artists & Fans For Four Days Of Awesome

By: Hannah Oreskovich

Denver’s annual four day music festival The Underground Music Showcase rocked South Broadway last weekend. We crawled the strip, ate nothing but pizza, and almost refused to sleep in the name of good music. Here are some of our favorite things about this year’s festival:

The Bands

Of course we went to as many shows as possible and of course most of them really rocked our socks off. But here we’re going to be shameless and first tell you about the killer acts who played our packed official day party.

 Xavier Provencher & Sean Culliton of Retrofette.

Xavier Provencher & Sean Culliton of Retrofette.

BolderBeat & KGNU combined forces this year to bring you Brunch with a Beat at The UMS, which was five hours of sugar and synth by some of Colorado’s most promising electro acts.

 Greg Laut of Whiskey Autumn.

Greg Laut of Whiskey Autumn.

Mirror Fears kicked things off with her industrial goth pop, Church Fire kept things movin’ with their Crystal Castles-esque electronic primal therapy, and DéCollage wrapped the front of The Irish Rover in Mylar and swept the stage with their avant-garde pop. Retrofette’s synth stylings followed, and created a massive dance party full of hip-shaking & flash tattoos. Whiskey Autumn’s indie synth pop closed the show; their unreleased track "Birds That Flew" had many whistling along to its chorus. And in between sets, DJ Erin Stereo crushed sweet beats. We gave away tickets to upcoming Future Islands and Thundercat shows, and we passed out donut lollipops, which many showgoers expressed they hoped were laced with weed (they were not kidz).

As for the rest of our UMS:

 Anthony Ruptak.

Anthony Ruptak.

Our first official set at UMS 2017 was at Hi-Dive on Thursday with Anthony Ruptak, who started us off with amazing tunes from his new record Don’t Let It Kill You, and even streamed a Facebook live anti-Trump vid from the stage. Punk rock.

 Ishka Phoenix of Ghost Tapes.

Ishka Phoenix of Ghost Tapes.

Ghost Tapes were a funky, neo-soul standout at Skylark; frontwoman Ishka Phoenix had the crowd melting as she delivered tasty R&B sounds from her ice cream microphone.

 Ben Pisano of Corsicana.

Ben Pisano of Corsicana.

Corsicana gave us tasty indie tunes while we nommed hard on an Illegal Pete’s burrito, which was the only non-pizza item we allowed ourselves for sustenance. The four-piece are playing a couple of big Colorado shows with Hippo Campus this month, so make sure to roll to those.

 Chris Scott & Chris Kimmel of OptycNerd.

Chris Scott & Chris Kimmel of OptycNerd.

OptycNerd describe themselves as “eclectro indie pop hop sexy time,” and well, we wish we’d written that ourselves. Their sexy time at Hi-Dive was enjoyed.

 Zola Jesus.

Zola Jesus.

Zola Jesus brought her dark, operatic vocals to the main stage; Red Fang spouted the classic rock stoner jams they’re known for to a headbanging crowd.

What is cooler than wearing glow-in-the-dark face paint? Glow-in-the-dark guitar strings- DUH. Motion Trap had ‘em at their Rover set on Saturday, and they played their electro sonic disco tunes to a packed house that boogied with them from start to finish.

 Mic Carroll of All Chiefs.

Mic Carroll of All Chiefs.

All Chiefs kept us out of the rain at Hi-Dive with their indie rock vibes, Evan Holm & The Restless Ones kicked up some folky soul at Gary Lee’s Motorcycle Club, and GALLERIES played a heartfelt tribute show celebrating the life of late Denver music prodigy Kyle McQueen.

 The Outfit.

The Outfit.

Rock’n’roll’s The Outfit played their final set ever at 3 Kings Tavern on Friday to a mosh-ready, beer-heavy crowd who were clearly sad to see them go.

 Rebecca Williams of The Savage Blush.

Rebecca Williams of The Savage Blush.

The Savage Blush had a killer psych rock-dripping set at the main stage, Slowcaves brought us chill wave surf rock sounds, and Dragondeer managed to blues rock us almost straight through a downpour, though they had to cut their set a bit short when the rain just about flash-flooded the festival parking lot in true Colorado fashion.

 Esmé Patterson.

Esmé Patterson.

Brent Cowles revived a soaking crowd with “Cold Times” when the sun came back out, Esmé Patterson slayed her evening dream rock set with unreleased music and a touching tribute with Kitty Crimes to the late Tyler Despres, and Benjamin Booker crowd surfed his way right into Colorado’s heart, closing out the main stage of the festival Sunday evening.

The Booze

 Dewar's Whiskey Emporium.

Dewar's Whiskey Emporium.

Breckenridge Brewing was a main sponsor for The UMS this year and we sipped many an Avalanche by the main stage throughout the fest. Dewar’s had what felt like a tiny house made for drinking with free smells and scotch eggs. It was delicious and why you would have wasted your tongue on any other mixed drink in the hot sun and the pouring rain is beyond us.

The Bunny

 Yeah. This one.

Yeah. This one.

Mixed Up Gifts’ pop up shop on South Broadway had some sweet merch for sale from Sacred Bones Records and a creepy night light if you’re in the market to wake up afraid of the dark only to find Jason lurking in your bathroom. But best of all was their bunny, who tried to coerce festival-goers into the shop while eerily reading children’s books through the window.

The Budz

No, not that kind you typical Denverite. Overall, we had a rad time at The UMS this year, and we highly encourage you to check out all the bands we mentioned, all the acts we live-interviewed with Zach Dahmen, and any of the performers on the local lineup in general. Because if there’s one thing we came away with after four days of music-hopping insanity, it was with community- from the performers themselves, to the UMS staff and volunteers, to the eager ticket holders bouncing from show to show hoping to find their next favorite band- Denver came out to support its own. Whether we were playing beach volleyball in the artist tent during a downpour or running from the main stage with our best budz to get back to Broadway for a set (those smarter ones took the Meow Wolf bus), this weekend really showcased you- the local music supporter. And for that, we and apparently Governor Hickenlooper, thank you.

Check out our full photo gallery from The UMS here.

-Hannah

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All photos per the author. All videos and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.