The Denver Post’s Underground Music Showcase is right around the corner and this year you can expect much of what you love, with the addition of some great updates. For those new to UMS, the local festival is designed to showcase and share the talents of up-and-coming local and national bands. Festivalgoers can shuffle in and out of bars, restaurants and specified venues all along South Broadway and experience amazing local music, one step at a time.
We at 303 Magazine look forward to UMS each year and creating this all-encompassing road map to make your journey through UMS both easy and unforgettable. While there are more than 400 bands at this year’s showcase, we did our best to narrow it down to some of our favorites. Here are 27 bands to not miss at this year’s Underground Music Showcase.
Pro Tip: Make sure to follow us on Snapchat to get a live look at this year’s weekend— Username: The303Magazine.
Wednesday, June 27
Whitney @ Three Kings Tavern- 8 p.m.
While UMS doesn’t start until Thursday, the pre-party at Three Kings Tavern is not to be missed, mainly because of Whitney. The fairly new band started in 2015, shortly after the break-up of the Smith Westerns, and have received a bit of buzz from the likes of Pitchfork and The Guardian. The indie-rock band with country undertones has some great cross over potential with pop-y tracks like “Golden Days” (video above). We wouldn’t be surprised if it becomes the future indie hit of summer 2017.
Thursday, June 28
Foxxes @ The Hornet – 9-9:40 p.m.
Another Denver hard-hitter to start your UMS weekend; catch indie psych-rock band, Foxxes. The reverb from the searing guitar battles will definitely help you get your head on right for what’s to come this weekend.
Blake Brown and the American Dust Choir @ The Hi-Dive – 10-10:40 p.m.
Another American singer-songwriter with a burrowing voice that drives straight to the soul, Blake Brown is talented and captivating. His haunting vocals and seasoned stage presence will leave you breathless.
The Epilogues @ 3 Kings Tavern – 10-10:40 p.m.
Epilogues fans received word earlier this summer that it would be the band’s last. Fortunately, you can catch them one last time at UMS. This is slated to be a special—and probably emotional—show for the band and their longtime fans.
The Bunny Gang @ 3 Kings Tavern – 11-11:40 p.m.
Catch these Denver post-punk rockers late Thursday night, if your eyelids are still open by then. Their funX sets will wake you right up.
Pro Tip: If you want to get started at UMS early don’t miss the kick-off show with Whitney show at 3 Kings Tavern at 8 p.m.
Friday, June 29
Plum – @ Main Stage – 6-6:40 p.m.
This Denver Rock ‘n Roll band is sure you get you moving after a long week staring at your computer screen. Their ’60s-esque take on psych rock is both refreshing and nostalgic, and their vocal harmonies are tight and resonant.
Kid Astronaut @ Blue Ice Lounge – 7-7:40 p.m.
Get in your Friday night groove with Kid Astronaut, a Denver R&B artist, suggestive of the smooth vocals you came to love from ’90s artists, who just wanted a little love. Show this incredible artist your love by catching him Friday at the Blue Ice Lounge.
Allah-Las @ Main Stage @ Goodwill – 8:30-10 p.m.
This LA-Based garage-rock group is sure to bring the beach vibes to landlocked Colorado during their Main Stage set on Friday night. Their psychedelic sounds are reminiscent of periods of free love, non-violence and an all-around groovy time.
Turner Jackson @ Blue Ice Lounge – 9-9:40 p.m.
Continue your hip toe-stepping with Colorado-born MC, Turner Jackson. His lyrics are stories, wrapped in tales and sealed with thought. Don’t miss the fun with this artist.
Wire Faces @ Illegal Pete’s – 10-10:40 pm
Get ready to rock with Colorado experimental, post-punk trio, Wire Faces. Their erratic and chaotic energy is refined with well-placed melodies and seething vocals. Catch them late-night at Illegal Pete’s.
One Flew West @ The Hornet – 12-12:40 a.m.
Not quite ready to pack it in yet? Then you must head on over to the Hornet at midnight for folkish crooners One Flew West. Grab some late-night food and settle in for a genre-blending set of folk harmonies set atop rock backdrops.
Saturday, June 30
South of France @ Main Stage, Goodwill — 2:30 – 3:10 p.m.
Husband and Wife duo Jeff Cormack and Kelly Cormack are as hip of a couple as they are a band. Their indie-pop jams with undercurrents of psychedelic rock will set the perfect mood for a Saturday afternoon and get you ready for a long and epic day of music.
King Cardinal @ South Broadway Christian Church – 3-3:40 p.m.
Denver band King Cardinal brings a soothing twang to UMS with their signature brand of folk music. Fuel your Thursday night fire with a little “Gasoline.”
Sunboy @ 3 Kings Tavern — 7 – 7:40 p.m. at 3 Kings
With deep roots in the Colorado music scene, members of Sunboy have been playing Denver shows before they were able to drive. But like its members, Sunboy’s music has matured. Their latest album, Oracle flexes their talents as a psych-pop band with tracks that draw inspiration from the early years of Tame Impala all the way to the iconic sunny tunes of the Beach Boys’ “Pet Sounds.”
Thee Oh Sees @ Main Stage – 8:30-10 p.m.
Created by guitarist and producer John Dwyer, this indie band started out as nothing more than instrumental experiments. Now, the band has developed into a combination of guitar rhythm, synth sounds and chaotic melodies.
Spells @ Hi Dive – 10 – 10:40 p.m.
Self-described as “vacation rock,” this five-piece band is always dressed to impress. Despite occasionally looking like the crew of a Carnival cruise, Spells is far from relaxed. Songs like “Freak Out” are classic garage rock with tons of punk attitude. Don’t be surprised to see a mosh pit form at one of their shows.
Dirty Few @ Hi Dive —11 – 11:40 p.m.
If you’re lagging on energy by 11 p.m. on Saturday, don’t sleep on the Dirty Few show. Led by a small but sassy AF frontwoman, Kim Phat, the energetic bands’ party-esque performances are full of crowd engagement and will have you roaring and ready to go by the show’s end.
Rossonian @ Illegal Pete’s — 12- 12:40 a.m.
First off, one of the major benefits of this show is that it takes place at Illegal Pete’s. We would bet good money that by midnight on Saturday, you’re going to want at least 20 tacos and/or a burrito the size of a baby. So arrive early, chow down and then get ready for Rossonian. It’ll be a real treat to see this band in such an intimate atmosphere. Described as “cosmic R&B” by NPR their synth-pop hits like “Love Clutch” and “Shooting Star” are great feel-good tunes. Mix that with a margarita and a “tacoma,” and you’ll be happy you came.
Strawberry Runners @ 3 Kings Tavern — 12-12:40 p.m.
Although Strawberry Runners might come off as soft and sweet with major influences from early days of ’90s pop-punk, once you dive deeper into the lyrics of singer/songwriter Emi Night you’ll find a myriad of deep and dark topics lurking beneath their charming melodies.
Kitty Crimes @ Irish Rover — 12 -12:40 a.m.
The one-woman show that is Kitty Crimes is never to be missed at UMS. The R&B, synth-heavy lyricist will furiously spit rhymes while dominating the stage. Join in and let her take you on a journey of charisma-infused trip-hop beats.
Note: 3 Kings and Irish Rover are right next to each other, so if lines aren’t long you can likely hit up both Strawberry Runners and Kitty Crimes.
Bud Bronson and the Good timers @ Hi-Dive — 1 – 1:40 a.m.
Bud Bronson and The Good Timers may have the unofficial theme song of UMS with “Denver Rock City.” And while it’s a late show, there’s something distinctly Denver about dancing your ass off to this rock & roll anthem at the Hi-Dive during UMS. So if you want to really feel like a native, tough it out and stay for last call.
Sunday, June 31
Ian Cooke @ Main Stage — 3:30-4:10 p.m.
The cello-playing crooner, Ian Cooke is one of the most locally celebrated artists to play at UMS this year and has toured with many major names like The Dresden Dolls, Built to Spill, The Decemberists and The Flaming Lips. Cooke’s music is always underscored by a sense of drama with theatrical lyrics. His most recent album Antiquasauria is all about dinosaurs and is said to have stage production coming in August 2016. Check him out at UMS and get what is sure to be a preview of what’s to come later next month.
Pro Tip: If you want to see a lot of bands during the day on Sunday without venue hopping, Skylark lounge is booked with consistent sets starting at noon.
Shady Elders @ Three Kings — 5-5:40 p.m.
For anyone that enjoyed Tennis’ UMS appearance last year, you also might enjoy Shady Elders. Albeit the ethereal frontwoman Fox Rodemich’s is a bit more mysterious and Shady Elders’ sound is much less pop, the band still has the sunny reverb you might have come to love during Tennis’ headlining performance last year.
The Yawpers @ Main Stage — 5:30 – 6:10 p.m.
With a mission to bring “together disparate pieces of the American music lexicon,” The Yawpers have a distinctly Americana feel to their boot-stompin’ rock ‘n roll tunes. Rolling Stone called their latest album, American Man, an even “split between the boozy, blitzed energy of last call and the hard-won clarity that comes the morning after, just as the hangover’s about to set in.” If that’s not an analogy for UMS, then we don’t know what else is.
San Fermin @ Main Stage – 7:30-8:10 p.m.
San Fermin is known for their musical orchestration and composition–their initial concert even being performed from sheet music. Now selling out shows across the country and opening for National, St Vincent, Arctic Monkey’s and more, they’ve really come a long way. Expect live violin, trumpet and saxophone for this intriguing indie-rock set.
Poliça @ Main Stage – 8:30-10 p.m.
Poliça is highlighted by their female singers beautiful ambient auto-tuned vocals creating a truly unique sound. Accompanied with energetic percussions from two drummers, instrumentation variety from synths to brass, and groovy bass, this is live indie-alternative at its finest.
Raven and The Writing Desk @ Three Kings Tavern— 9-9:40 p.m.
It’s no mistake that Raven and The Writing Desk’s name sounds like a poem by Edgar Allen Poe. The baroque band’s dark-pop music is eerily omniscience. Recently, the band said their newest music is distinctly melancholic and is inspired by a tumultuous year after several band members “inexplicably” left the ensemble. Check them out and see if the Raven has embraced other fowl-like qualities and risen from the ashes for their return to UMS.
Pro Tip: One of the best things about UMS is the discovery. So don’t just stick to this list and make sure to do some exploring! For the full UMS schedule visit this page.
Article by Alex Faubel, Brittany Werges and Tyler Harvey