The Underground Music Showcase day two began with heat. Left over from a strong Thursday night of shows, Friday blazed in quickly with the fest kicking into full gear. By the time music began to start off the weekend, beads of sweat were dripping from artists and fans alike as the high hanging sun made South Broadway sizzle. Tunes of the main stage sound checks buzzed along the sidewalks, beaconing the wristband clad masses.
My first stop was 3 Kings Tavern, where Chicago’s Fort Frances was playing. The four-piece, melodic Americana rock outfit stepped the stage with a tight, energetic set. Longtime UMS players, the group engaged a decent crowd with hook-driven songs and precise playing. Every song felt like a single waiting to explode, and their stage presence left a lasting effect. This is a band that could play any stage at the showcase and do it well.
Denver’s own Tyto Alba next took the stage at Skylark Lounge with their brand of indie rock. Though their lead singer may be smaller in stature, her voice and presence exudes something much larger. Their music doesn’t ask a lot of its listeners, but gives back plenty. With a tight sound and heartfelt performance, they make 2003 feel just as relevant today.
Back-lit against a graying Denver sky was the closing act for the main stage on Friday, the Allah-Las, a five-piece retro indie rock band out of L.A. The full crowd of hundreds swayed along with pines as the gentle summer breeze of this band sent us back to a bygone era of well-crafted, simple pop songs. If the wafting aroma of vaporizers and the faint glow of smart phones weren’t present, one might question what decade this band is from.
After the constant movement of the showcase, bouncing from one venue to another and braving the crowded sidewalks, it was time to go to church. Chimney Choir laid their three-part harmonies over intricately composed, gypsy-beat heavy folk to The South Broadway Church. This band can only be described as: unique as hell. Framed against a towering organ on a church stage, their high-soaring harmonies felt like an angelic choir with too many instruments to name. What looked like a chaos of infrastructure in instruments and set up culminated in a beautiful congregation of sound.
As the night grew thick and the Hi-Dive lines wrapped around street corners, it was time to sit and ponder my full evening at the UMS. With already so much talent seen, it’s exciting and daunting to even think about the rest of what this weekend has in store. But I can’t wait.
All photos per Hannah Oreskovich for BolderBeat. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat. Header photo of Pizza Time.