The Underground Music Showcase (UMS) kicked off its 17th-year last night. Being a Thursday night, you’d think UMS would hold out on the heavy hitters but it seemed like they wanted to start this year with a bang. And Thursday was just the beginning. Over the course of the next three days, hundreds of bands are playing the festival. Included in the lineup are national acts like Benjamin Booker, Red Fang, Brothertiger, Zola Jesus and more, but the focus, like every year, is the incredible musical talent already in the Mile High.

Last night offered up a substantially diverse lineup of local alternative and indie-rock artists including the multi-faceted Chimney Choir, the new-to-Denver trio The Coteries and Left Hand Shakes. Also included in the mix was Denver superband Porlolo, UMS staple Colfax Speed Queen, country rock Matt Rouch & the Noise Upstairs and indie duo Anthony Ruptak and the Midnight Friends. Now, if you wanted something with a little more bass and a groovable beat, there were no lack of local artists in that department either. Boyhollow packed in the indie grooves at Irish Rover and CRL CRRLL played a late set which featured old and new music alike.

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The highlight of the evening was arguably Dead Latin‘s debut performance. The new Denver band includes Clay Cornelius formerly of Rose Quartz. The group offered a vocal-free show loaded with heavy percussions. They created an irresistible experimental dance session, delightfully reminiscent of LCD Soundsystem’s “lose your shit” ethos.

UMS will return tonight, Friday, July 28 for night two of the four-day showcase. Tickets are still available here with single-day passes starting at $35. Be sure to explore 303 Magazine for coverage throughout the weekend and check out our 33 Must-See Bands here.

All photography by Amanda Piela.