The first full night of The UMS started indie and rocked hard into this morning.
Getting to Illegal Pete’s on South Broadway shortly before 8 o’clock to catch an opening band was easy. So was parking, which I don’t expect, as the full swing of the weekend at Denver’s The UMS was approaching. Thursday evening at the fest had a gentle start. You gotta pace yourself kids.
I started the night with Teacup Gorilla. Their tunes perked my ears with interest as I noticed their lyrics. While some words were sung, most were told, as if the vocalists were reading a poem. That’s what Teacup Gorilla is all about: indie, seven-minute songs with lots of space and soothing sounds, and words that keep you thinking. If you’re into the darker, heavier indie thing, this is one local act to keep your eye on. Definitely click here to learn more about the Denver four-piece.
If you still want indie, but you’re looking for a bit brighter sound, then keep an ear out for The Milk Blossoms. This trio is totally adorbs. I saw them at Gary Lee’s Motor Club, and the ladies of the band have impressive vocal skills. Plus, one of the girls can beatbox, making her obviously cool. And if her beatboxing wasn’t enough, she also rocked a flashing hamburger watch:
“It’s hamburger time!” she excitedly told the crowd. Word.
Between the beatboxing, beautiful voices, a ukulele, and keys resembling early Bright Eyes, you’re sure to be sucked into The Milk Blossoms’ tunes. I was definitely left wanting more... and wondering wtf a milk blossom is? Check out their website.
Next, I made a pitstop at Skylark Lounge, where I heard Gin Doctors, a 90s cover band that doesn’t discriminate. What I mean by that is that the group played an Ace of Base song and followed it with a Foo Fighters tune. These dudes were fun, and great for those blurry nights in a bar where everyone’s singing along, getting drunk, and being merry. And of course, they’ve got the nostalgic thing happening. Check it.
The bow that wrapped up my Thursday at The UMS happened at the Hi-Dive. Definitely one of my favorite dive bars around, I caught the very tail end of Blake Brown & The American Dust Choir. I didn’t get to hear much of the band’s set, but what I did hear tickled my heartstrings. I have a feeling they were breaking hearts at the Hi-Dive far longer than what I witnessed. I may have missed out on something good. Timing- it’s a b*tch.
The following act at the Hi-Dive was Strange Americans. Oh, rock’n’roll, how I love thee. The minute this band started their set, I tuned in. They shredded their set, Americana-style and closed with their song “Hogwash” (which should be a hit by now) from their 2012 album A Royal Battle. Their energy was captivating, and left me nodding in approval and smiling out of pure satisfaction. I then had the chance to ask these fine fellas a couple of questions at the end of their set, and they want you to know they’re a not-too-serious but hard-working-blue-collar-rock’n’roll-band that’s doing their thing and bringing each other closer together in the process. I can totally dig that. These guys are heading on a Midwest tour starting tomorrow in Minneapolis. Get ‘em while they’re hot!
Closing the evening at the Hi-Dive were Bad Licks. You know that psychedelic sound from the days of Kennedy and Nixon that hypnotizes? That’s these guys. Plus total rock’n’roll, so raw you can barely touch it and so Americana, an American flag simply appears in your periphery like a phantom. Bad Licks sound good.
That’s it for night one! I gotta say, I’m so proud to live in a city with all this awesome local music and talent. The ground is fertile, and I’m standing alongside its seeds. So are you. See you at The UMS this weekend you crazy music lovers!
All photos per Sierra Voss for BolderBeat. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.