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

Follow Hannah on Instagram and Twitter.

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.
 

BolderBeat & KGNU Hosting Official Day Party at 2017 Underground Music Showcase

This year, BolderBeat is proud to be partnering with KGNU Radio to host an official 2017 Underground Music Showcase Day Party during the Denver festival on Sunday, July 30th from 12PM-5PM at The Irish Rover Pub. 

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Join BolderBeat & KGNU for sugar and synth! We've got a photo booth, giveaways, & lots of surprises in store for this Sunday event. Here is our official day party lineup: 

12PM Mirror Fears

1PM Church Fire

2PM deCollage

3PM Retrofette

4PM Whiskey Autumn

*beats between sets by DJ Erin Stereo

So make sure to get your festival tickets here & stop by our party! Join our Facebook event for more info to follow in the coming weeks! Sweet sounds provided; sprinkles optional. 

Get Your Weird On at Get Along's Single Release Show This Friday at Lost Lake

By: Jura Daubenspeck

Itching for some weirdness this weekend? Lusting for some tunes that will make you swoon? Lucky for you, this Friday, April 7th is shaping up to be a stellar one, as indie dance-punk duo Get Along are unveiling their single and music video for “Death of a Spirit Animal” at Lost Lake Lounge. They’ll be accompanied on the bill by church fire, Signs and Signals, and Specific Ocean.

Get Along. Photo Credit:  Joel Rekiel

Get Along. Photo Credit: Joel Rekiel

Get Along has been hard at work the last few months recording “Death of a Spirit Animal” at The Spot Studios, and shooting the accompanying music video. Known for their soulful and bizarre sound, as well as their explosively commanding stage presence, the band has taken it up another notch with their newest release.

Unlike Get Along’s other songs, such as “DNA,” “Karaoke,” and “YUKI,” “Death of a Spirit Animal” has a mellow quality that oozes with raw energy and introspection. The song takes risks with its sound and content: it has no clear verse or chorus bridge arrangement, but a mid-song climax that resembles a Shakespearean plotline. “Death of a Spirit Animal” touches upon the painful and chest-tightening moment of clarity that forces one to look at their life from a different perspective and ask, “Do I like the person I’ve become?”

church fire.

church fire.

Supporting acts church fire, Signs and Signals, and Specific Ocean all will bring their own tasty ingredients to the bubbling cauldron that is Friday’s show.

church fire has established themselves as the warlocks of darkwave noise-pop, wielding magic with their experimental electronica. No strangers to the strange, they are often seen donned in masks and mystical headwear, all while belting out screams in songs such as “every toss a tightening.”

Signs and Signals has been creating melodic, rhythmically-smooth alternative rock since 2014. Their catchy, vibrant sound, as heard in their hit song “Fight or Flight” has earned them acclaim, and their fine-tuned stage presence makes their music nearly impossible not to jump around to.

Specific Ocean.

Specific Ocean.

Indie newcomers Specific Ocean bring a young, playful energy to their music. The band all met while studying at Denver’s Lamont School of Music, and have been crafting comforting, dreamy tunes like “Strangers” ever since.

Listen to Specific Ocean's "Strangers": 

Come Friday, be ready to shake off your human skin and let your freak flag fly high for all to see. You’ll be welcomed with some equally killer, kooky beats to dance to.

For more details, check out the Facebook event page. Advance tickets are still on sale for $10 (plus there are some killer t-shirt + ticket combinations), so grab ‘em while they’re hot!

-Jura

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

BolderBeat's 'Get Your Creep On' Colorado Halloween Spotify Playlist

By: Joliene Adams

As an Introduction to Film Studies T.A. at CU Boulder for three years, I became no expert, but learned right quick and true: a film soundtrack, and to a much larger extent, a score, can make or break the terrifying in a horror film. So I moved to emulate that, best I could. Here you have what could or should be on a horror film soundtrack if it were Colorado-music exclusive. Make sure to follow us on Spotify and take a listen to these tunes at BolderBeat:

BolderBeat's 'Get Your Creep On' Playlist

1. Echo Beds, New Icons of a Vile Faith (2016), “Obvious Signs Of Forced Entry”

Genre: Suggestively invasive, disquieting fertile terror.

Staccato snare drums set this one off, and from there, I can’t place all the sounds of this track, but according to Echo Beds, I’m maybe not supposed to. As they themselves describe, “Echo Beds crafts a caterwaul of contact-mic'd oil drums, broken cymbals, battered basses, unrecognizable tape loops, and dilapidated voices.” It’s sound like art, completely, so listen and let this one creep into your distorted veins and “excorcise” its sound notes. It’s precisely that all the sounds can’t readily be placed, nor their arrangement readily recognized or described, which acts to unhinge the bolts on your comfort zone.

2. church fire, Pussy Blood (2016), “Midnight Sidewalks”

Genre: Alien abduction gone right (for the aliens).

“Midnight Sidewalks” starts you off nice and easy. As easy as slightly screeching metal on the ears. What happens next sounds like a battle between an alien ship's tractor beam shining down on you, and your attempt to fight it beaming you upward. But the tractor beam locks on at 00:26, a struggle ensues, and around 00:40 the UFO starts to win; 00:50 comes, and you’ve lost the battle. Once you’re on the ship, the vocals hit, and you chill into the groove safely, but as the melodies tick higher at the chorus, so do your nerves instinctually.

3. itchy-O, Burn the Navigator (2014), “Burn”

Genre: Fight or flight.

00:00-00:05 should be put in a stock horror film sound library, if it didn’t come from one. And since there’s nothing more calming than police sirens and medical equipment beeps, the 32-piece Denver-based percussion-centered electronic performance band itchy-O naturally included both. The percussive pacing races the song ahead, with a mix of blended elements. And the continual return to a combination of hand drums and hard driving guitar downstrokes, punctuated with unapologetic crashes on splash cymbals, will have you running or biking at more than your normal pace. But that’s a good thing, because you don’t want to burn in the fire that, it’s only fair to assume, the muffled static background voices are talking about. Of course this band has a Halloween Show booked at The Gothic Theatre! Get tickets here.

4. The Blue Rider, Year of the Horse (2016), “Nightmare”

Genre: Dracula Monster Mashing on a surfboard.

You could easily put this song right into a late 60s or early 70s horror film without too much question. This one doesn’t terrify me, but it’s oldie pop surf rock vibe mixed with the prospect of a nightmare from which you can’t wake up from have me, to my horror, dancing to a terrifying prospect. I blame the lyrics and the organ for the extremely catchy quality that found me in such a nefarious position.

5. Slim Cessna’s Auto Club, The Commandments According to SCAC (2016), “Commandment 3”

Genre: Suspiciously benign late 50s era-esque death pop.

“Commandment 3” is a lighter track musically that doesn’t disquiet like Echo Beds, Animal / Object, or Janet Feder quite do; it’s a fun ditty with lyrically dire consequences. There’s a “Love Potion No. 9” quality to this track, from the mix of it’s catchy melody, to the very serious subject matter and consequences of drinking a love potion & kissing a cop, to that of the acutely real difference between you catching the Queen Snake or the Queen Snake having caught you.

6. Animal / Object featuring HAALAND, Yule – Ogy (2016), “Little Drummer Boy”

Genre: Unpredictably sourced nonlinear chaotic noise.

There was a period of time at Guantanamo Bay when David Gray’s “Babylon” was put on loud and constant repeat as a form of torture. This seems like a particularly cruel form of torture. The original “Little Drummer Boy” on repeat would be my personal hell. But when it comes down to it, even your favorite song on repeat 24/7 becomes torture as equal and painful. What this song by Animal / Object does to really creep at you is not as heavily percussion-dependent as many others. It’s all strings. Not the whole song, but the part that gets you where it matters on Halloween.

7. Stella Luce, Zugenruhe (2009), “Monsters”

Genre: Murderous lullaby crooning creepstyle.

If Bjork and Joanna Newsom have an illegitimate child out there that we do not know about, Stella Luce is her. She might live in a beautiful, albeit potentially haunted music box. When she sings in the shower, I imagine it in all minor chords, which tend to stimulate greater feelings of tension or apprehension. From the sliding up the xylophone scale the starts it off, to the plucking strings that come in, the sounds reminiscent of record player static with drums in no hurry, and a Bjork-Newsom voice, the lyrics of this one seal the deal of songs about monsters we’ve told our children forever. Brothers Grimm, anyone? I can’t believe we called those “fairy tales” and read them to children…

8. Jane Rigler and Janet Feder, Rarefactions (2015), “Quiver”

Genre: Ambient jungle terror.

Pan flutes make a quiver effect, and an intermittent reminiscence of Spanish-style guitar suggest a regional, cultural musical theme and influence on “Quiver”. It skits and scatters and slithers around your ankles, and mostly, you definitely wouldn’t want to be walking alone in the jungle listening to this tonight, unless you like being that much more freaked out… especially if you’ve ingested Ayahuasca first…

9. Snake Rattle Rattle Snake, Totem (2014), “Bad Magic”

Genre: House of mirrors B movie camp-glam.

In “Bad Magic”, subtle percussive underlayers usher you into that haunted house in a film scene where you go inside, get lost in a hall of mirrors, and sense Mike Myers may be in possible pursuit (from Halloween, not Austin Powers). It doesn’t sounds like the infamous score or soundtrack from Halloween, but it does sound like something people in a film would look cool dying to. If that’s too weird, too bad. It’s Halloween.

10. Colfax Speed Queen, Satisfaction Intended (2013), “Skeleton Man”

Genre: Rock'n’roll into the grave.

This tune plunges straight into vocals. “Bag of bones!” guitar riffs punctuated with exclamatives from the organ make this song comparatively friendly and funky. And let’s be honest, a skeleton was always the least scary of the scary-costume genre. But then you realize here “he’s gonna kill himself,” and Skeleton Man isn’t really dead yet, which is why he terrifies us. Because if he doesn’t change his story, he might show up right here, right now.

11. Native Daughters, War Elephant (2012), “War Elephant”

Genre: Horror western languid death march rock.

It’s the fact that I think the narrator is dead by the time we get this musical missive that unsettles me most. His narrations are presented as happening in a nightmare: “And then I woke up,” his husky voice tells. The musical narrative that ensues then takes us where the dream wouldn’t have if he’d stayed asleep. The horn serenades like a march to meet fate with the man, creature, spirit; whatever it/he/she may be. Which never ends well. Enjoy the discomfiting solitude of lamenting guitar strokes and bass chords knowing you’re on a journey in the dark toward an even greater darkness.

12. Qbala, Battle Cries (2015), “So Alone”

Genre: Reality based lyrical fear hop.

This one represents fundamental questions and anxieties that will stick with you long after Halloween. The fears of the day-to-day: “At an all time low… When you fail you must continue to begin, within the walls of desperation and hesitation...  is it all in my head? Or is it in the mirror?”  The honesty, lyricism, and frequently minimalist style of this track are almost chilling, and the fear of who you maybe haven’t become feels real. Same with what’s held you back. It shows the earnestness it takes to do you. The time is now.

13. Rubedo, Love is the Answer (2015), “Psychic Tune”

Genre: Teddy Ruxpin death rattle.

You’re a child. You have a doll or stuffed animal that talks when you pull a cord or push a button or squeeze its plush palm. And then the batteries start to die, the voice slows, and it terrifies the dickens out of you. The deliberate vocal torpor in this song brings those vibes, and makes even understanding the lyrics, in a seeming contradiction, at times more challenging. Equally slow, loose acoustic guitar strokes sit behind nearly-spoken backup vocals with drum hits you could almost call lazy, but not in the derogatory sense, make this song the one you might like to go to bed or wake to the morning after your many Halloween rousings.

Happy Halloween. Follow BolderBeat on Spotify for more Colorado music playlists. 

-Joliene

All tracks per the artists featured. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.