This weekend, Denver’s own version of SXSW will take over the streets, bars and parking lots of South Broadway. The Denver Post’s Underground Music Showcase highlights the talents of local and national indie artists and is sure to provide attendees with much more music than they could possibly hope to find in the span of four days. UMS will take place over 20 different venues on South Broadway over the course of the four days, beginning this evening and into Sunday night. And the area expanded to accompany the floods of people from last year’s festival and the UMS main outdoor stage, which was once located behind Goodwill can now be found in the parking lot of the Social Security Federal Union.
Festival-goers should expect a good number of overlaps among artists they want to see, so we’re here to help you narrow down some acts that are not to miss at this year’s UMS. These are our picks for must-sees of the 2014 UMS.
Thursday (The Late Night Rock Bender)
Snake Rattle Rattle Snake – 11pm – Hi Dive
This local rock band is no stranger to the darkness. The shadowy ambiance of their poignant vocals and dark brand of rock music creates something hard and stirring. This guitar driven show will feel menacing if only because the hooks somehow twisted their way deep into your veins. SRRS was named “Band of the Year” and “Best Indie Rock Band” in 2011 by local publications, including our own. Don’t miss this late night Thursday treat.
Roadkill Ghost Choir – 11:59pm – 3 Kings Tavern
Hailing from my home state of Florida, folk-rock outfit, Roadkill Ghost Choir, really knows how to rock a venue. Expect dizzying guitar riffs accompanied by banjo, hard-hitting drums and drifting vocals that truly embody American rock.
Friday (The ‘I Have Too Many Shows Booked’ Night)
Wild High – 6pm – Main Stage at SSFCU
Mile High City rock band Wild High has been making waves in 2014. The quartet describes their jams as “emotional, groove-laden music with influences from the past and present.” Their music has resonant psychedelic vibes and some quirky moments of boy-next-door loveliness.
Covenhoven – 7pm – South Broadway Christian Church
Colorado native Joel Van Horne is Covenhoven, a songwriter creating melodic folk-rock whose dynamism and comforting approach to music creation have been turning heads within the local scene. Be sure to check him out!
Residual Kid – 8 pm – 3 Kings Tavern
If only for novelty’s sake, you must check out the pint-sized band that really tosses down some heavy-hitting rock tunes. The Texas natives’ high-energy performance will undoubtedly leave audience members forgetting that these three teenagers are still forging their way through the awkwardness of puberty. Good on ya, boys!
Tanlines – 8pm – The Main Stage
Already this writer has encountered the dreaded festival conflict. At the same time as Residual Kid, Brooklyn indie-electronic pop duo, Tanlines, will hit the main stage at UMS. Eric Emm and Jesse Cohen pair echoing vocals with sweeping, tropical synths and a knack for creating unique non-cheesy pop music. Their 2012 debut album, Mixed Emotions, made its way onto Billboard charts, though the duo hasn’t released anything since then—unless you count their cheeky rants on Twitter.
The Other Black – 9 pm – Illegal Pete’s
Formed in 2012, this dynamic group takes nearly 30 members, tosses them on stage and creates something one would expect to be messy and disorganized, but that emerges as a free-form funk and soul performance smoother than good whiskey. The modern twist on this type of music creates something truly unique and unmistakable. If you’re a lover of the days of disco when ten people dancing, singing and playing on stage was the norm, you’ll love The Other Black.
Step Rockets – 10 pm – Illegal Pete’s
The Minneapolis four-piece garnered some real attention this year with their debut release “Kisser,” the type of indie-rock ballad that will be on repeat in your car stereo for months following. Weaving psychedelic, reggae and electronic elements into uncharted pop territory, Step Rockets really deviates from the norm, creating something you can’t miss!
Saturday (The ‘There’s Two More Days of This’ Disbelief )
Aan – 7pm – Hi-Dive
Portland band Aan or Amor Ad Nauseum, applies experimental pop with whirring guitars and harmonious vocals. Their progressive music has garnered a lot of attention, particularly in their Northwest roots, but we’re excited to see them at UMS!
Old Monk – 8 pm – Hornet
This trio of indie-rockers fuses elements of progressive-punk with upbeat slices of indie-pop. By way of New York and Colorado, Old Monk showcases poppy choruses and emotional songwriting and vocals. Bring them a scotch and I’m sure you’ll make quick friends.
Real Estate – 8:30 – Main Stage
Real Estate gained some popularity with their third release, Atlas, and I don’t see them slowing down any time soon. Hailing from New Jersey, the indie-rock group added a bit more emotional and heavier sounds to their most recent album, making for something beautiful and forlorn. The album was named “Best New Music” by Pitchfork (who we both know rarely like anything at all) and set the band up for something real and seriously life-changing–don’t miss out.
Ark Life – 11 pm – Hi-Dive
Denver band Ark Life has toured all over the US, sharing stages with Of Montreal, Gregory Alan Isakov, PHOX, The Head and the Heart and more. Their soulful take on Western rock and roll delivers a fresh twist on an old love.
A Tom Collins – 11:59 – Hi- Dive
These Denver natives will really wake you up as you’re nodding off in the wee hours of Saturday night. Their rock music can’t be branded, and that’s what we love most about them. They navigate seamlessly through a myriad of different genres and are definitely an act to catch!
Sunday (The Day of No Such Rest)
OKO Tygra – Hi-Dive
These Denver-natives bathe sweeping synth melodies in whirring guitar riffs and sonic-boom percussion builds to create something nostalgic and modern. They infuse indie-rock with modern pop elements are will definitely show Sunday’s crowds what they’re made of.
Blonde Redhead – 8:30 – Main Stage
Founded over two decades ago, alt-rockers Blonde Redhead deliver rhythmic guitar-laden tracks with sheer, yet bold feminine vocals. Audience members should be pretty excited about this one, as the band will hit the main stage Sunday evening to remind us all why they’ve been around for so long.
Instant Empire – 9pm – Blue Ice
My UMS will be closed out with indie-rockers Instant Empire. Compared to bands like Manchester Orchestra and Desaparecidos, blending a special type of aggressive/ progressive alt-indie rock with a super high-energy performance, these guys will be a great close to your UMS weekend.
Then we sleep.