The final day of UMS 2016 started off slow, which was unsurprising given the late night slew of shows on Saturday. Small crowds of zombies, still with a rock’n’roll twinkle in their eyes and glow stick goo on their shoes, wandered into the main stage area around 2PM in a noticeably lower attendance than the day before, but no matter. There was shade. And shade at The UMS is a hard commodity to come by.
As I wandered around South Broadway in those early Sunday hours, I found myself reflecting on what was overall an amazing weekend in local music. Having the chance to bounce around from venue to venue for four straight days checking out bands was this girl’s dream come true. It was a heck of a weekend Denver! So let’s chat about yesterday’s shows:
My favorite thing about Sunday at The UMS was the number of female-fronted performances I saw. Say what you will; the music industry is still very male dominated, whether you’re looking at artists or those behind the scenes. But ladies repped The UMS stages yesterday, from the smaller venues to the main shabang.
Let’s start with Millicent. Fronted by Emily Knurr, Millicent is a vibe pop project making Colorado waves. Knurr delighted a growing crowd at 3 Kings Tavern, many of whom admitted to being pulled in by the sound of her voice echoing outside of the venue. Her deep and magnetically smooth vocals pulled people close to the stage as she sang songs from her last EP Deux, a Drake cover, and some of her newer music (which has been all over OpenAir, so tune in!) She was stellar.
Shady Elders took the stage next, an indie rock/dream pop four-piece out of Denver fronted by Fox Rodemich. Rodemich also plays lead guitar and soon after starting the set, she turned the dance floor into a vibey haven of indie. 3 Kings was really the spot to be for indie over the weekend, and Shady Elders fit right in. They had an impressive crowd for an early Sunday show, and kept people groovin’.
Adia Victoria played the main stage mid-afternoon Sunday. The Nashville-based songwriter and vocalist's most recent album, Beyond the Bloodhounds, was produced by Roger Moutenot (Yo La Tengo, Sleater Kinney). Her lyrical poeticism wrapped us up in Victoria’s world, which she describes as, “falling in love, dealing with loss, confusion, anger, love, and loving myself”. Victoria had an Erykah Badu sound wrapped in a tasty indie sandwich. It was delicious.
Ready to rock, I rolled to the Hi-Dive, where The Velveteers were already performing. Frontwoman Demi Demitro was ablaze onstage in a glittering golden jacket belting out powerful heavy rock tunes. Her golden curls covered her face, giving her a mysterious glow that you couldn’t look away from. She jumped around stage while slamming on lead guitar and headbanging with the crowd, and her drippy choruses were catchy and captivating. Demitro is one lady you have to see live, Denver.
Cold River City, who dropped their latest full length album Thank You. Sorry. Love You. earlier this year, took the Hi-Dive stage in the early evening. The Boulder/Denver five-piece, who describe themselves as, “the love child of funky soul and dirty blues” brought a party. With grooving bass lines, strummy licks, and frontwoman Emma Fields’ killer voice, the crowd boogied throughout their set. Fields jumped between guitar, shakers, lead vocals, and even some toy instruments. CRC rocked, and they kept the evening moving along with a fun energy.
San Fermin took the main stage next, a Brooklyn-based eight-piece who are as fun to watch as they are to listen to. The group has had a lot of steam behind them recently, thanks to their release Jackrabbit, and after hearing them live, it’s easy to see why. With a robust horn section (John Brandon, Stephen Chen), Rebekah Durham’s violin playing, and lead vocals running between Charlene Kaye and Allen Tate, this group brought incredible instrumentation to the outdoor stage that echoed throughout the bellows of Broadway.
Polica then closed out the main stage as Sunday’s headliner. The brainchild of Channy Leaneagh, Polica played across their catalogue for their set, but are currently touring on their release, United Crushers. And that’s fitting since the Minneapolis-based project crushed their set! With dual drummers and Leaneagh’s commanding vocals, Polica was the perfect outdoor close to a great weekend of music.
Once the main stage shuttered shut and the crowds funneled to smaller venues, I took to the Hi-Dive again, where Denver’s BANDITS were straight shredding. Sibling duo John and Lulu Demitro are the creators of this three-piece, with the multi-talented Andrew Oakley on drums. John (guitar/vocals) was an alluring showman, with a rock’n’roll edge that kept us locked on the band’s set wondering what he would do next. Whether he's scratching his guitar on the monitor or running into the crowd, energy at any BANDITS set is guaranteed to be high. And Lulu, on bass and vocals, was equally powerful in her stage presence, holding down tight bass lines, and getting the crowd to sing along with her on tunes like, “Kill Tonight”, which she’s described as a track inspired by “a modern day Jekyll and Hyde, a psychotic way of looking at yourself and letting the crazy side take over”. The crazy did take over, as BANDITS slayed into the final night of the festival.
Beyond all of these female-fronted acts, I caught some rockin’ dudes on Sunday as well that are obviously worth mentioning. Denver’s DeCollage helped people get weird with their opening set of the day, with crazy visual props, a live painter onstage, and even a dancing oyster. Ian Cook brought a beautiful grace to the stage with his amazing cello playing and a set of songs inspired by fossils and dinosaurs. Modern Leisure, who we recently wrote about here, had a super chill and groovy set at 3 Kings that kept the afternoon moving along nicely. And last but not least: Denver’s The Yawpers managed to not only rile up a half-dead crowd into a riotous dance party of foot-stompin’, head shakin’ fun, but they somehow even got the sun to come out for their set. They brought life to the stage in more ways than one; you just gotta love these guys. Seriously- take a listen.
We had a blast at The UMS this weekend, and hope you did too Colorado! Make sure to head over to our Facebook for all of our exclusive photos from The UMS!
All photos per the author. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.