10 Sets We Really Loved at The Underground Music Showcase

By: Nathan Sheppard

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.

PPL MVR at the UMS.

PPL MVR at the UMS.

The Burroughs

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.

Cloud Cult

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.

Deerhunter

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.

Decatur

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.

Hot 8 Brass Band

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.

My Body Sings Electric

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.

PPL MVR

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.

Silver & Gold

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

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.

White Denim

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

-Nathan

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

Whitacre Talk to Us About Their Single "Find The Light" & Their Upcoming UMS Performance

Denver’s Whitacre recently released their newest single, “Find The Light.” The song is the band’s third single release from their upcoming record 'Within the Mountain’s Shadows.' The five-piece have had a busy summer, so we caught up with the crew to see what's next:

Tell us more about “Find The Light”:

Chase Perry: “Find the Light” is the first single off of our upcoming EP entitled Within the Mountain’s Shadows. After self-recording our first two singles, we decided to work with a highly-praised Denver producer, Joe Richmond. “Find the Light” is the first songs we did with Joe and he really challenged us to work and rework the song until it was our best effort.  We feel the production quality is top notch.

What's the band's songwriting process been like for this new record?

Joey Wenberg: Our songwriting process is continually evolving. Initially, Paul Whitacre brought all of the chord progressions and lyrics to the table from his solo project.  Recently, it’s been a much more collaborative process. The best is when we schedule practices for the sole purpose of bringing new ideas to the table and just jam- this is where the best songs have been created most recently. But a lot of times inspiration strikes when we’re outside of our formal practices.  So we’ve become big fans of Apple’s “Voice Memo” app. We use it to send ideas back and forth to each other, in hopes something good can come out of it.

Whitacre.

Whitacre.

We know there’s been a recent change in your lineup- who is all involved in the project right now?

Chase Perry: Whitacre formed in August of 2017 and there are currently five of us- Paul Whitacre (front-man), Mark Cunningham (drums/keys), Chase Perry (banjo/harmonica), Joey Wenberg (bass), Robert Bullington (lead guitar).

What are your favorite spots to play live in Denver?

Paul Whitacre: We’ve been lucky enough to play quite a few venues here in Denver. As for our favorite venue in Denver, it’s got to be a two-way tie. Larimer Lounge offers an amazing intimate space that allows us to feel really engaged and connected to our fans. On the flipside, The Bluebird Theater offers one of the bigger stages and better sound systems we’ve been able to play through. Plus, having your band’s name on their giant marquee is pretty sweet too!

What's next for Whitacre?

Paul Whitacre: We’re really close to finishing the final songs on our upcoming EP and we’re working hard to find another good tour to join before the end of the year. And, even though we’re not even done with this first EP, we’re already thinking about the next one. We are constantly writing songs, playing shows and fine tuning our craft.

Where can we catch you this weekend at The UMS?

We will be playing South Broadway Christian Church on Friday at 9PM!

Great! See you there!

Keep up with Whitacre here.

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

Denver Cellist & Soundscape Artist Lief Sjostrom Releases New EP 'Counting Breaths'

By: Norman Hittle

Lief Sjostrom, a cellist and guitarist living in Denver, has released his latest cinematic neo-classical full-length album Counting Breaths. Take a listen below!

Lief performs and records his own original, cinematic, and neo-classical/post-rock compositions; he also performs and records with live bands. His first solo EP, Her Prayers Sound Like Warnings, was released in 2017, and according to him, this latest album is a continuation of that EP with a darker edge.

Counting Breaths is a 14-track journey that takes the listener through cinematic soundscapes that alter in movement from track to track. One moment the listener may feel like they’re at the top of a verdant mountain range in Middle Earth, and the next they’ll be guided into the high tension of the misty woods of M. Night Shamylan’s The Village. Next they’ll find themselves gliding through a beautiful glade on sparkling waters along with some Game of Thrones-like heroes all before being taken to the doors of a sepulcher in a Lovecraftian-inspired horror tale. Both beautiful and emotionally captivating, these compositions could easily be on some epic gaming playlists and I know I’ll be adding them to my own.

Lief Sjostrom. 

Lief Sjostrom. 

On the side, Lief has been teaching cello and guitar lessons for four years, and has been a central component of the band PrettyMouth the last six years. He’s also performed or recorded with Edison, Sawmill Joe, King Cardinal, The Patient Zeros, Florea, Chad Price, Tyto Alba, Brianna Straut, Adam Hooks, Poor Me, and The Dead Orchids, to name a few. He’s also crafted music for the score of a documentary by Adam Reynolds.

Keep up with Lief Sjostrom on his social media and make sure to catch his set at Denver’s UMS this week Sunday at 1PM at Baere Brewing Company!

-Norman

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

Premiere: King Eddie's Single "Making Flippy Floppy" Is the First Track Out from Moon Magnet's Upcoming UMS Cassette Release

15991997_10212181238430447_1632643270_o.jpg

This week, Moon Magnet Studios are releasing their Moon Magnet Composition Volume 4. Dropping this Friday July 27th before UMS, the record will be streamable on iTunes and Spotify but will also have a special cassette release. The tape will feature songs by Retrofette, Rubedo, Dandu, King Eddie, Venus Cruz, members of Esmé Patterson, Mini Mansions, JJUUJJUU, Sound of Ceres/Candy Claws, Ancient Elk, and OptycNerd. Today, we’re premiering a single from the record, King Eddie’s “Making Flippy Floppy,” a Talking Heads cover that the band also has a video for below. You can see King Eddie and more Moon Magnet artists at our UMS day party MoonSpoon this Saturday, July 28th from 12PM-4PM at Irish Rover. We sat down with King Eddie’s frontman Jay Mars and Moon Magnet Studios’ Reed Fox to learn more about the track and the cassette release:

Reed, what inspired Moon Magnet Studios to put together this record for the UMS?

Reed Fox: The UMS is a special time of the year- the best weekend of the year when all the Moon Magneteers come out to play. Every UMS we record a song. In 2013, we taped as many mylar space blankets together as we could and did an absurdist parade around Broadway one night of the UMS. Another year Riley Geare from Unknown Mortal Orchestra was hanging out at Moon Magnet and I recorded him playing drums on a song. That session morphed into what became the title track off of déCollage’s last album, Magnetize. One year we recorded an hour long acapella album of nonstop ambient vocal loops with members of Sunboy and Ancient Elk called Camp Forever Friends. In 2015 Cody Coffey, Megan Crooks, Ryan Schlichtman, and Derrick Bozich recorded a song called “Beautiful Mess.” The songs are always directly about the magic of UMS and on this one, Cody sings a play on words about UMS and “Ur a Beautiful Mess.” It’s finally getting released on this compilation! We wanted to do something special and include a bunch of our friends who are playing UMS on one comp. Laura Goldhamer ran a collective called Long Spoon and released a compilation in 2008 featuring Paper Bird, Ian Cooke, Kitty Crimes, and Griff from Inner Oceans. It had a huge impact on my group of friends and that was the impetus for starting Moon Magnet and releasing compilations in the first place.

What does a Moon Magnet collaboration look like with the artists featured? Do they connect with you or vice versa? Do you work with each artist on their songs? What does a relationship with Moon Magnet look like for a release like this?

Reed Fox: The collaborations are always different. Sometimes it’s a band hiring me to record their album, EP, or single. Sometimes it’s a singer songwriter with lyrics and a melody who asks me to create all of the music and drums. Sometimes it’s a bunch of friends hanging out and we hit record and it ends up becoming totally mind blowing. Everything at Moon Magnet is hyper-collaborative and it’s fun to get as many artists involved as possible. Here’s a Spotify playlist of most of the songs released on the label; there’s another with the 36 albums recorded in the studio with a link to stream on Spotify too. Neil Lyons and I run the licensing branch of Moon Magnet together. There’s currently 1,000 songs in our library and we synch them in film, television, and audio-visual works. It’s easy to submit your song or find the right song for your video on our site.

Jay- tell us a bit about your cover of “Making Flippy Floppy” from the compilation. Who did you work with for it and where was it recorded?

Jay Mars: I love covers that have little to no resemblance to the original. We screened the movie Stop Making Sense at my job at The Alamo Drafthouse and I was inspired by the raw energy of their performance and wanted to really make it our own. I started a mentorship at the University of Denver several months ago and this was the first track I produced under the guru-ship of Michael Schulze, the director of the music production program. I was listening to a lot of Bowie's Blackstar album and I think the production and performance is really influenced by that record- the drums more than anything; they're kind of dark and slippery. It's been truly amazing working with such a talented producer and mentor. Not just his fluency with the technology, but his willingness to suggest ideas and challenge your assumptions. I think that's what makes a great producer- the vision and ability to make connections and create moments in the music where you didn't see the opportunity. Kevin Netz (Yonbre) created all these crazy atonal textures on a Moog synthesizer that throw the entire track into orbit before it comes back into the chorus. I recorded the drums with Linton Wright at the Lamont School of Music and I tracked the vocals, synth bass, and guitars at Moon Magnet.

37709678_1742383185808819_1121484701937172480_o.jpg

Who did the album artwork for the compilation? It’s so cool!

Reed Fox: Jacqueline Sophia Cordova did. Jacqueline can you talk about your work on this record?

Jacqueline Sophia Cordova: The Ancient.Future featured in this work is more than just my avatar and moniker, it is a philosophy and a way of life. It is shaped by the coalescing of ancient wisdom, magic, and mythologies with modern/future science and technology. It exists as a singular point in a non-linear understanding of space/time as the Eternal Now. Understanding existence as multidimensional, I see and experience past and future, and all dualistic concepts as happening simultaneously within a single event. My creative work is, ultimately, channeled work. I express through many mediums including visual art, costume and fashion, poetry, performance, ceremony, music, and dance. The collective journey toward understanding consciousness and reality is a defining theme in my work. Aesthetically, my work is compiled of imagery and information I receive through dreams, intuitive landscape, mystical experiences, ancient mythology and symbolism, modern science, future technology, the quantum realm, and artificial intelligence. Ancient.Future is deeply intimate work. I am continuously baffled and mesmerized by mere embodiment and what it means to be here; a merging of energy and matter into form. I often create literal self portraits, using myself as a subject, but all my work is an expression of my life journey, a sort of commentary to parallel my human experience.

Reed Fox: Jacqueline currently has work up at the 925 Gallery in the CVA in Denver until mid-August, as well as a show scheduled at Dateline in December. She also has work in the current issue of Suspect Press. See her artwork on all the Moon Magnet Compilations and all of déCollage’s releases except for their first album. You can connect with Jacqueline on Instagram, Facebook, and view her online gallery her site.

Thanks Reed, Jay, & Jacqueline. Take a listen to King Eddie’s song above and make sure to see all of your favorite Moon Magneteers at the BolderBeat Presents MoonSpoon Day Party this Saturday during The Underground Music Showcase! You can also catch King Eddie’s solo UMS set at 3 KIngs Tavern on Sunday at 8PM!

MoonSpoon's Day Party at the UMS This Saturday Will Feature a Surrealist Show & Tell, 'Blind Date' Performances, & More

At last year’s UMS, we threw our Brunch with a Beat Day Party and brought you bands like Church Fire, déCollage, Erin Stereo, Mirror Fears, Retrofette, and Whiskey Autumn. This year, we’ve partnered with Moon Magnet Studios to bring you yet another danceable day party at the three-day fest called MoonSpoon this Saturday, July 28th from 12PM-4PM at the Irish Rover. Though the party will feature plenty of musical performances, Moon Magnet is spicing up the style of this event and bringing a ton of fun activities to the mix. We sat down with Moon Magnet’s Reed Fox to chat about what you can expect Saturday:

Reed! What is MoonSpoon?

Long Spoon is a collective label that Denver artist Laura Goldhamer cohered with glorious pals from Denver bands like Paper Bird and Eye & the Arrow. The collective came together while Goldhamer ran a Denver DIY arts and community space called “Brooks Center Arts: Underground Tea House.” Goldhamer created the DIY space in the basement of a historical church in Cap Hill in 2007, and coordinated numerous concerts, art shows, spirituality classes, and other progressive cultural events until its close in 2009. In 2008, Long Spoon released a compilation of Colorado artists, which features such Denver greats like Nathaniel Rateliff and Ian Cooke. Long Spoon ultimately influenced me to form Moon Magnet. Laura Goldhamer and I are now uniting to explore MoonSpoon, an overlap of old and new ethos!

15875383_10212123411504810_210206923774503296_o.jpg

Cool. The noon slot on the day party is a “show and tell.” What is that? Is it what most of us remember doing back in elementary school?

Imagine if you had five minutes to show off anything you wanted. This is your chance to show us your closet dance moves, let the crowd name your new goldfish, cast a shadow puppet or show off your third grade painting or poem. You could perform an impression, read a diary entry, rap, shows us your oddities/collections, draw live with crayons, DJ from your phone, say a joke, or do some karate! Message us and we'll give you a five minute slot to peek through the space time continuum and share anything you want with the world. You can also be anonymous and present from behind our silver curtain. There will probably be a makeshift shower with a lot of reverb if that makes you more comfortable. Actually there probably won’t be. Every 30 minutes we'll take a field trip to the bar in our imaginary airplanes. This is surrealist show & tell, a harp strung with barbed wire, a morphological echo: your lobster telephone.

Following “show and tell” is a Blind Date meets Whose Line Is It Anyway gameshow at 1pm. What are the rules?

Blind Date was one of the most memorable and enjoyable shows Moon Magnet’s thrown over the past five years. Last time it featured members of Other Black, Ancient Elk, Ghost Tapes, Rubedo, Twin Flame Medicine, and Retrofette. This year, I’m sure it will include some of the same people and more. Come get your heart broken! A curated group of musicians will be randomly paired to play a song together. Each song has a time limit to keep their date from getting too steamy- get a room already will yah! Dice will decide how many artists play together on any given song. Everyone in the audience will write on a piece of paper what they want the next song to sound like and a few submissions will be pulled from a hat for each song. No dater will know who they are forced to "play" with until their names are pulled out of a goblet, hence the term blind date. Just wait for the speed dating round!

Sweet Sally! Tell us about Laura Goldhamer's Folktron-a-thon Y2K slot at 2PM.

Folktron-a-thon started between 2009 and 2010 as a somewhat organic open mic which flowed from one person playing a few tunes and friends/acquaintances tastefully chiming in with spontaneous sonic support. Even though it was gently facilitated by Goldhamer, rather than a sign up list, it smoothly transitioned from one song leader to the next. The first Folktron-a-thon was in 2009 but was instead called “Folktron-a-thon 2005,” and thus this year we chose to nonsensically and non-chronologically call it “Folktron-a-thon Y2K!” We will encourage friends to come prepared to perform a song or two, and sit in with others on whatever instrument is available to subtly lend help to the song.

What’s going to follow Y2K?

My solo project Poppet will be playing a special set, ‘surprises are foolish things.'  It will be a step away from my usual routine, and so an experiment. Anything can happen (but should not be expected). The only certainties are organized sound, perfect intervals, and a performative element.”

Meep Records will also be involved with this day party. What are they bringing to the show?

Meep Records is run by Adam Baumeister. He makes lathe cut vinyl records for musicians and vinyl enthusiasts. They make perfect gifts for holiday presents, your band’s album release party, and custom mixtapes for your significant other. He’s made hundreds, thousands of records and is bringing a gaggle of them to the day party. He also cut 20 limited edition déCollage records with our new single on stained glass 7” records. Plus, they’re square! This will be the fifth record I’ve printed through him and they always sell out quickly so come check them out!

How can people who want to join in the fun get more involved?

Message me or comment on the Facebook event if you have a talent or object you’d like to show off at the “Surrealist Show and Tell” or if you want to perform in our “Blind Date!”

Stay tuned for more announcements about MoonSpoon from us and join our Facebook event for the day here.

Denver's Underground Music Showcase Hosting Pop-Up with Free Beer & Discounted Festival Passes This Weekend (07/13)

fbcover2.png

Denver’s Underground Music Showcase is throwing a pop-up event this week in celebration of the upcoming festival. This Friday, July 13th at Black Buzzard, UMS bands Oxeye Daisy, in/Planes, and Tyto Alba will be rocking out to get you excited for the upcoming fest. The UMS is giving the first 100 people through the door a free Oskar Blues draft beer, which means you can choose a Dale’s Pale Ale, Pinner IPA, Mama’s Little Yella Pils, Old Chub and G’Knight on the house!

We’ve already laid out for you several reasons why we’re so excited for this year’s UMS but if you missed that, check out The Underground, the multiple outdoor stages, and the festival’s plans for comedy, art, and more to be a part of this year’s weekend.

Festie time is just a couple of weeks away, July 27th-29th, and at the pop-up show this week, you can snag UMS tickets at discounted pricing with NO service fees. Get your party on this Friday the 13th by RSVPing to this UMS pop-up show here! RSVP is required for entry.

See you at the Buzzard soon!