South Broadway in Denver was home to the 18th annual Underground Music Showcase (UMS) this past weekend and was bigger and better than ever. With 20 venues and 300+ artists, there was truly something for everyone to enjoy. Now under the directions of Two Parts and a very talented booking team, this year’s UMS put an emphasis on community. The UMS provided so many local artists a place to show off their skills and a place to discover new national artists coupled with interesting immersive experiences. From many local artists to national fan favorites, it was a serious struggle to see everyone who played, but these were a few of my favorites from this weekend.
This old school funk band definitely puts the soul in soul music with their high energy live shows. Their onstage presence has enabled this Greeley band to grow a loyal following since 2013. Frontman Johnny Burroughs brings a very distinct singing style and energy that will make you groove along to their funky jams.
The experimental indie rock group had us hypnotized with their spacey tunes. Known for their theatrical shows, the band made the most of the shortened set and took everyone at main stage through a musical adventure. There was even on onstage engagement after their third song.
Another experimental indie band, Deerhunter was also a must see set when they closed out Saturday on the Main Stage. The parking lot was packed tight for the Atlanta band, and they played a number of their hits for the eager crowd. The set ended with “He Would Have Laughed,” and then “Snakeskin” for the encore to finish off the night the right way.
Tucked away in Moe’s BBQ on the first night of UMS, Decatur played one of the earlier shows on Friday but rocked the cozy venue. This up and coming alt-rock band made the most of their show by creating an atmosphere with their own lighting and smoke, and then by rocking our socks off. This is a band to keep an eye out for in Denver.
We got our dance shoes on and got down to the funky tunes of New Orleans Hot 8 Brass Band. In fact, I’d say Denver got a little taste of Mardi Gras in July; the guys are able to combine some old school elements of NOLA street music with more modern elements. They even paraded down the street at one point during the fest, making them one of our favorite UMS artists.
People packed into Illegal Pete’s to get a glimpse of MBSE and the boys brought the noise for one of the best sets of the weekend. The packed room sang along to every song and even assisted with some crowdsurfing of lead singer Brandon Whalen.
One band that flew under the radar as one of the most entertaining shows of the weekend was PPL MVR. By combining comedy with their synth rock, you get the unique “yeti rock” that made PPL MVR’s set so much fun. They jumped into the crowd in costume at several points and came out to meet fans after their set too.
Northern Colorado’s Silver & Gold have quickly made a name for themselves as one of the state’s best local bands. Friday night was proof of that, as Illegal Pete’s was filled to capacity once more. This band’s energetic and fun-loving attitude made for a great time for everyone to dance along to their hit songs “Smoke” and “Headed West.”
Slow Caves had double duty playing both Saturday and Sunday sets, with their first being at 3 Kings. This old school indie band brings different popular 80’s and 90’s elements to their music and adds modern twists. They’re a Colorado staple so I hope you caught at least one of their UMS shows.
Easily the most energetic show of the weekend was from rock band White Denim. The band drew the biggest crowd that the Sesh Stage had all weekend, so it was a bit surprising that this act wasn’t at the Main Stage. Everyone present sang along to their tunes and those who weren’t familiar with the lyrics were jamming out just as hard.
This year’s UMS was definitely one of the biggest and best in the festival’s 18-year history. The UMS is a place where you can bond with people over a shared love of music while being able to support and learn about new local businesses and different ways to become involved in the arts and cultural scenes in Denver. Though under new ownership, UMS proved it is truly the showcase of Colorado’s booming music scene, keeping true to its roots of discovery while also improving community elements and experiences that were new to the fest with its multiple outdoor stages and art installations. We’re glad to have shared in this year’s amazing experience, and a special thanks to all the artists and volunteers who made this weekend so great.
See a full gallery from our UMS 2018 weekend here.
All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.