The 27 Best Shows We Saw at This Year’s UMS

UMS 2021
Photo by Kori Hazel

The Underground Music Showcase (UMS) was once again a marathon, and not a sprint, no matter what the alcohol and time conflict may lead you to believe. South Broadway was once again bustling, albeit a bit reduced this year, but bustling nonetheless for the talented artists of this city and beyond it to hit the many stages that were part of this past weekend’s festivities. Artists and fans alike, divided and conquered their respective stages, but some artists rose above others to truly make an imprint long after the last gum squished sole left the pavement. Here are our picks for the best shows we saw at this year’s UMS.


UMS 2021
Photo by Alden Bonecutter

Mike was in an especially good mood on Saturday — heaps of “YEAHHHS,” passionate lyrics and distinctly “Mike-like” beats cast a wave of feel-good energy over the tight-knit, loyal crowd at the Goodwill Showcase Stage. Decked out in orange mid-calf socks, slippers and a Che Guevara Supreme t-shirt, New York’s wildly unique Brooklyn native trudged through records spanning albums and EPs. “no, no” — colorful and looping — flowed through the stage speakers like molasses. Somehow, the samples sounded as good (if not better) than they make themselves out to be on digital platforms. “Evil Eye” is perhaps the catchiest record on his newest album, Disco!and quickly got the crowd stretching their hands to the sky — so high, Mike instructed, that “your belly shows.” For the entirety of the performance, recorded clips of GTA San Andreas played on the video board behind a table littered with Red Stripes and audio equipment. It was a bonafide hangout in every sense of the word — a truly relaxed display by one of avant-garde rap’s modern trailblazers. — Carter Ferryman

YaSi (Surprise Set)

UMS 2021
Photo by Adrienne Thomas

Friday’s surprise set at HQ Denver was the local favorite and rising popstar YaSi. Her music is fun, accessible and relatable, and her midnight performance was exactly what you’d expect – filled with intoxicating rhythm and a dancing audience channeling the last bit of their energy after a full day of live music. Above all, YaSi’s music is catchy. Her songwriting abilities appeal to the masses, but her music is more complex than it seems at first glance. Her songs have a tight structure and each aspect of her music works in tangent to create a certain theme and vibe. For example, “Guilty,” is a story about innocent flirting during a committed relationship, and the bouncy guitar and killer bass create a smooth groove that matches the playful lyrics. The crowd embraced every song, and one guy even rushed the stage, which YaSi later remarked made her feel like a real popstar. — Logan Sasser

Yoke Lore

Photo by Kenedy Cottrell

Despite his self-claimed “nervousness,” showcase performer, Yoke Lore, killed it on Sunday night on the Goodwill Stage. Fueled by the power of his banjo and some exceptionally cool graphics, the indie-folk musician performed hits such as “Beige” and “Hold Me Down” for the eager crowd. The performer’s child-like energy and smooth falsettos proved to be infectious for the packed venue, even drawing a few onlookers from the apartment building next door. Though it may have been a while since Yoke Lore was last on stage, this latest performance proves that he isn’t to be trifled with in the future. — Sydney Kapp

Pout House

Photo by Adrienne Thomas


The Pout House crowd filled into The Hornet equipped with the rowdy liberation of a recent breakup. The already packed venue justified a line spilling down the street with those eager to get a spot in the crowd of committed fans which the garage-pop foursome has garnered over the years. While the venue was narrow, people more than managed to let loose for the high-energy show. Pout House front-woman Catie Rauhala, radiated a sly seduction that begged the crowd to do something crazy. Spirited dancing quickly escalated to a collectively amped jump which, by virtue of the venue, turned into an exceptionally playful mosh. With the punky performance of their 2018 single “Cosmopolitan,” the audience embodied the satisfaction of a weeks-long thirst being quenched. Rauhala characteristically closed out the show with a simple suggestion, saying, “Thank you. Go do some hot girl shit.” — Natalie Schiller

Slow Caves

Slow Caves performing live at the Gothic Theatre in Englewood, CO on Friday, May 17, 2019. Photo by Brandon Johnson


Once again, Slow Caves unsurprisingly wowed us with their captivating UMS performance. Tender hugs were exchanged, hands were held and emotions were felt in the crowd. The indie-rock band shared their ability to encapsulate the warm fuzzies of a blossoming relationship. They were at odds with their 12:00am set at Stoney’s Cantina, asking, “It’s not too late, is it?”. However, the crowd sure didn’t think so. Their rendition of the ’90s anthem, “Kiss Me” sent the audience into a reminiscent daydream, championed by Jakob and Oliver Mueller’s tantalizingly raspy vocals. They begged the crowd to leave it all on the floor and three consecutive stage dives seemed only fitting to keep the energy high through the end of their set. — Natalie Schiller

The Grand Alliance

Photo by Kori Hazel

Denver’s newest supergroup finally had their day in the sun, literally. The group comprised of Sur Ellz, Kayla Marque and Crl Crrll took a mid-afternoon slot to prove that they could back up their immeasurable hype, and they did so with flying colors. The group made the Showcase Stage at Goodwill feel like a cookout — a family affair where everyone was welcomed to vibe out to the music, dance a little bit and be around good people and equally good vibes. At this point, our interstellar artists are making quite a name for themselves as gracious hosts of out-of-orbit dance parties. — Kori Hazel

Honey Blazer

The Queen-inspired hairdo’s and Stevie Nicks look-alikes were only the second-best aspects of Honey Blazer’s performance on Saturday night at The L. Filled with smooth ’60s guitar riffs, stunning harmonization and a rocking cover of “Getting in Tune” by the Who, Honey Blazer definitely showed off during the intimate performance. The energy in the bar was as infectious as the heat, with passerby’s literally pressing up to the windows to experience some of the lively act. Honey Blazer certainly exceeded expectations and is sure to be a frequent performer at UMS in the future. — Sydney Kapp


Photo by Kori Hazel

Hellgrammites had no business being as arresting as they were when they hit the HQ Stage Saturday. The band’s monstrous genre amalgamation was a Frankenstein-like success, where the experimentation worked to an incredulous degree. Most impressive was their ability to stop those who generally shy away from harder genres in their tracks, to check out and bang their head to the guttural performance. Take it from first-hand experience, this band tapped into the unknown and managed to strike gold, and at UMS there was no shortage of people to witness it. — Kori Hazel

Kent Washington III

Photo courtesy of Kent Washing ton III

One of the furthest stages away from the main action of UMS held the set of an up and comer who threw down like they were in the heart of it all. Kent Washington III didn’t hold back a drop of sweat or ounce of energy for his high energy performance at Cochino Taco on Saturday. Pushing the space to its limits, Washington owned every inch of the stage in a way that startled some and shocked most. There was no denying that he showed up to go hard, and that attitude made him over-deliver in a display of fervor that will be seared into the mind of concertgoers forever. — Robert Mayper

Claire Heywood

Photo by Adrienne Thomas

Denver musician, Claire Heywood, is no stranger to UMS. With her soulful performance and dreamy lyrics, she once again proved herself as one of Colorado’s flourishing artists on Saturday night at Cochino Taco. While the indie artist performed personal hits such as “Python,” she and her band also did a thoughtful cover of “Bad Moon Rising” by Creedence Clearwater Revival  — a favorite song of many musicians during quarantine. As if the performance couldn’t get better, Heywood also invited newcomer Zoe Berman to the stage to join in on a few tunes. Fifty minutes didn’t seem like nearly enough time for the crooning artist, and I’m sure the energetic crowd of dancers in the front would agree. — Sydney Kapp

Los Mocochetes 

Photo by Adrienne Thomas

Los Mocochetes have proven their performance chops at UMS once again. If you were lucky enough to catch their set at the Goodwill Showcase stage, it’s likely you left with a smile on your face and your fist in the air, shouting “Si se puedes!”. It’s inarguably understood that Los Mocochetes are the storytellers and teachers you want to stay awhile and listen to. They brought the energy to kick off the final day at UMS with their Chicano funk music that inspires you to sharpen your machete, do some good and shake your hips. And in the heat of Sunday afternoon, there was not a stale hip or untapped foot in the crowd. — Natalie Schiller

Amazing Adventures

Unsurprisingly, Amazing Adventures was in fact amazing on Sunday night at The L. The rising stars put on one of the most zestful shows of the weekend due to the symphony of brass instruments and immaculate harmonization featured within the group, causing a performance that was not just pleasing to the ears but also to the soul. The cosmic band performed hits from their newest album, Burdens of Leisure, which provided the crowded bar the perfect kind of music to dance the night away to. It’s clear the band was having just as great of a time as the crowd was with smiles plastered to their faces as they performed their funky tunes. Amazing Adventures carved the way to stardom for band geeks everywhere at the weekend showcase and truly captured the spirit of UMS with their intimate performance. — Sydney Kapp

Kayla Marque

UMS 2021
Photo by Kori Hazel

Kayla Marque has, over the course of her organic career, stamped herself as a true local favorite in any genre under Denver’s musical umbrella. Her intimate performance on Sunday at The L was tight, yet welcoming. As soon as she began performing songs from last Halloween’s Left Brain EP, the unfamiliar crowd immediately became family. “Villain” stands out as a serious bright spot in an entirely wonderful concert — the artist’s hair is put up with gold, sparkly bobby pins. Like the accessory, Kayla Marque gleaned over her dedicated fanbase on the festival’s concluding day. — Carter Ferryman

The Mañanas

UMS 2021
Photo by Roxanna Carrasco

This indie-rock duo took over Stoney’s Cantina for one of the most exciting acts of the opening day. Their music is simple and stripped back, and that’s exactly what makes their sound so endearing. Thankfully, they didn’t stray away from getting loud and embracing their analog vibe on both the guitar and drums. The venue filled up fast, but their performance drew bystanders from up and down Broadway who gathered outside the front entrance to enjoy the show from the sidewalk. Their UMS set was just as fun as their records suggest, filled with catchy hooks and a certain youthful innocence that provided a much-needed escape from reality. Simply put, their performance represented all the best parts of a long-overdue vacation. — Logan Sasser


Photo curtesy of Miguel Aviña

Izcalli was the perfect band to close out an epic Saturday lineup. They brought some much-needed energy after a long day of dancing and celebrating with their unique brand of Latin rock, turning Stoney’s Cantina into a madhouse of music and culture. Each member came dressed up in metallic suits with NASA-inspired patches that showed off their iZCALLi brand. The sound was great, and each band member played their part perfectly. Miguel Aviña absolutely shredded the guitar while his sister Brenda held the beat on the bass. The star of the show though was Wes Watkins, who brought the funk and gave a great performance on the saxophone and trumpet. — Logan Sasser

Remi Wolf

Photo by Roxanna Carrasco

UMS’s arguably most anticipated act, Remi Wolf definitely didn’t disappoint. Her undeniably catchy disco-pop tunes were a great excuse to dance the night away, and her energy reflected the crowd’s enthusiasm to be back in front of a stage again. She sang her heart out and hit all the right notes, running across the stage with unwavering enthusiasm and joyful appreciation. Everything, from her colorful reflective tank top and purple cargo pants to the cartoonish visuals and rainbow stage lights, meshed together seamlessly to create the exact vibe Remi Wolf has become known for. She played all her hits, including “Hello, Hello, Hello,” “Disco Man,” and “Shawty,” but she also performed her latest singles from her upcoming album Juno, set to release this October. Regardless of what song she chose to perform, the fans were always excited. — Logan Sasser

N3PTUNE (Salt Lick Party Set)

Photo by Kori Hazel

Early sets can make or break you at UMS, especially on the last day of the festival. Hungover and raggedy, festival-goers begrudgingly defied their pounding heads and sleep-deprived bodies, to make their way into N3PTUNE’s impromptu performance at the Hi-Dive for the Salt Lick Day Party. It goes without saying the crowd wasn’t the biggest, but that didn’t deter N3PTUNE in the slightest. Equally as sleep-deprived as his audience, N3PTUNE strapped on his heels and strutted his ass up to the stage in his neon pink jumpsuit, and proceeded to do what needed to be done. Giving more energy and drama than your favorite band on their best day, N3PTUNE conquered the stage. Even though only a few eyes caught the performance, there was more than enough said to spread the gospel via word of mouth like a match in a grass field.


Photo by Conor Rafferty

Like the majority of performing artists, it’s been a while since Pinegrove stepped on stage. Thankfully, after a year and a half without performing, they were ready to embrace the opportunity. Their light, slightly psychedelic alternative music proved to be a great live experience. The band rode the tides of musicality, occasionally dipping their toes into acoustic folk sounds before diving headfirst into a louder, more energized indie-rock sound. Their new single “Orange” proved to be particularly intriguing and a great crowd-pleaser. — Logan Sasser

Pink Fuzz

Photo by Kori Hazel

After a long hiatus from live shows, Pink Fuzz returned to form with a performance that made up for lost time and then some. Electricity filled the room as fans were practically swept off their feet from the sheer power being blasted from the HQ speakers. The feeling was akin to seeing Queens of the Stone Age in their prime, but with even more fire. A testament to this was the pit that erupted in the crowd almost instinctively as the music compelled bodies to thrash like those at a dark seance. It was pure rock worship as all in attendance felt the gift of Pink Fuzz enter their soul. — Robert Mayper

Adiel Mitchell

Photo by Kori Hazel

Adiel Mitchell turned the Goodwill parking lot into a club with the sun still high and the crowd just warming up. Mitchell’s voice recalls early-aughts R&B over modern funk and dream-wave beats. Though his vocal chops speak for himself, the young crooner’s sound gives a clear nod to current hip-hop. He had even the stiffest hips swaying. The set was full of intrigue, no two songs sounding alike and Mitchell curating so it played out like a good story — one you’d hear again and again. — Alex Kramer

Dr3amC@$t (Dead Eye Dojo)

Cryptic deities stepped down to Earth Sunday at Denver Distillery. Their performance contained the absolute limit of what the mind could handle, with a display of prowess that had no right existing on this mortal plane. It must have been a dream. One that was experienced collectively in the mind’s eye of each person in attendance, with some of the most unbelievably ground shaking and head-nodding beats that our planet can provide. In the golden light, Dead Eye Dojo came, and with them, they brought a musical richness that left a crater-sized mark on the soul. — Robert Mayper

The Smokestack Relics

Photo courtesy of the Smokestack Relics

As locals soaked up the last rays of sunshine during the day’s golden hour, a crowd was slowly forming on the sidewalk outside of Stoney’s Cantina. On the final day of UMS, plenty of festival-goers were en route to one of the final sets of the weekend until they were drawn in by the sound of The Smokestack Relics driving out of the window at Stoney’s. The quick-strummed guitar floated out onto Broadway as the growing crowd began to block the sidewalk, congesting foot traffic as more people were drawn in by the sound of Denver’s The Smokestack Relics. The upbeat music and charm of the two-man band captivated the crowd, with many stopping to listen for only a minute but ultimately unable to pull themselves away. It may not have been a set that they planned on stopping for, but judging by the size of the crowd on the sidewalk, The Smokestack Relics’ set was one of the best at this year’s UMS. — Mariah Hansen

Shannon & The Clams

Photo by Adrienne Thomas

There’s something special about Shannon & The Clams – there has to be if Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys is backing and producing your music. The Oakland-based band was one of the early headliners at the Goodwill Stage Friday night at UMS. The R&B, new-age, doo-wop group provided an ideal counter-balance to other artists who performed the first night. While many artists were hoping to maintain or exceed energy levels, Shannon & The Clams respectively moved at their own pace. The easy-going, surf garage rock provided a sliver of the California state of mind – reminding concert-goers that the weekend was a marathon and not a sprint. Their soothing stage presence offered the opportunity to rest and recuperate before trekking the calamity of S. Broadway once more. They were calm, cool and collective and influenced the audience into the same state of mind. — Andrew Venegas

Check out our list of the best photos from UMS 2021


Mark Tepsic, CITRA, 303 Magazine, Jenna Beutler
Photo by Mark Tepsic

Plain and simple; CITRA is an ear full of rock n roll. The scattered venues and the overwhelming number of artists made it problematic to choose where to go next. Whereas, CITRA’s performance could hardly be ignored. If you found yourself stumbling between a rock and a fast pace Friday night at Stoney’s, you were watching CITRA. The four-man set was a one-band battalion fighting for the attention of the late-night crowd. It was a hard-fought battle, but in the end, UMS attendees and barhoppers had no chance of passing by the packed venue. The most noteworthy negative aspect of their performance was the venue size – not to place blame on Stoney’s, but the energy output far exceeded what the square footage allowed. — Andrew Venegas

Kaitlyn Williams

Photo by Kori Hazel from UMS 2019

Save your drinks, alcohol was not needed for Kaitlyn Williams set at Stoney’s Cantina. All she needed was one line to drown you and make you reflect on your life choices through her lyrical execution. Saturday’s reason for the emotional breakdown – intoxication by vocalization. Each song was a well-balanced cocktail with soul and lyrical consistency, garnished by Williams’ authentic charm. The only thing that could make her set better was drop-in guests and she had three. Bunny Blake, Dax Oliver and Avery Jacob all made an appearance in Williams’ set, adding to the quality of her performance. And aside from the music, she knew how to entertain the crowd  – even during sound checks. The T-Pain warm-up and first-song guitar solo are the type of shenanigans you can expect within the parameters of her set. Yet, when the melody plays and her vocals drop, “funfetti” shots turn into whiskey thoughts. She makes music for the experienced adult — listener discretion advised. — Andrew Venegas

Down Time

Photo by Kori Hazel
Down Time had a proper send-off from the city they’ve come up in at UMS. The group played their final Denver show for the foreseeable future on Sunday. The high-energy crowd welcomed the occasion, cheering on the dreamy indie rock and coaxing a great performance from the band. Their sound serenaded the early afternoon space with musing lyrics, romantic harmonies and soulful guitar. Down Time’s performance was truly the best way to spend some Saturday downtime. — Alex Kramer

despAIR jordan

Once past the confusion and brief disorganization at the start of the set, Despair Jordan came out swinging. Admittedly, it’s tough to rally an exhausted crowd on the last day of a festival show on a Sunday night, but Despair Jordan managed. The crowd diminished since Friday, but there was still enough energy to headbang before the end of the weekend. An whether it was tactical or unplanned, playing their popular release, “The Architect,” in the middle of their set reignited the crowd’s participation. Overall, the audience had to admire their commitment to the showcase and the relentless energy they poured into their performance. From the non-stop shoeless drummer feeling the beat on his pedals to the streaming guitars overlapping one another,
Despair Jordan sought to make a name for themselves at UMS and they did just that. — Andrew Venegas


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