16 Must-See Acts at the Underground Music Showcase

The weekend is nigh, my fellow audiophile friends. The Underground Music Showcase will tear through South Broadway for three days, bringing local and national acts together for a symbiotic playground of music, food, drinks and no shortage of good times. Though one of the greatest parts of UMS is discovering your love for an artist you’d never previously heard of, there are a few acts on the bill we at 303 Magazine will be sure to catch. A lineup running 100+ artists deep can feel overwhelming, but 303’s music desk has you covered. Without further ado, here are the acts we’re most excited to get down with at UMS. 

Friday, July 29


When: Friday: 3:15 p.m. + Saturday: 7 p.m.

Where: Showcase Stage (Friday) + Oasis Stage (Saturday)

Local synth-pop icons Retrofette are an Underground Music Showcase staple, and if you don’t take advantage of at least one of the weekend’s opportunities to see them, it could be one of your biggest UMS regrets. Retrofette knows that good music lies at the heart of a good show — and they always deliver. Past years have seen the band playing full sets while other years saw Retrofette provide shorter DJ sets to keep the party going between sets at the main stage, but wherever they are, there’s sure to be a crowd and lots of dancing.


Where: The Hornet

When: 7 p.m.

A true grinder in Denver’s DIY, hard-nosed rap community, Jelie pairs smooth, flowing production with concise wordplay. Her voice resonates in a way that lets the listener know the local emcee is not in the business of filler. Take for example Jelie’s most recent single, “Black Is Beautiful,” where she makes her message crystal clear over a pounding instrumental. From Ted Talks to SXSW performance and a Youth on Record fellow, Jelie is a born-and-bred artist you can’t miss.


Where: Underground Stage

When: 7:35 p.m.

Foxing’s vocalist, Connor Murphy, tells you everything you need to know about the St. Louis three-piece on the band’s latest release, crooning “Hey, ever since I got going I’ve been going for broke.” And if you’ve ever seen one of the trio’s live performances when they’ve come through town in the past then you know exactly what Murphy means, but if you haven’t, then you won’t want to miss it. For almost a decade, Foxing has been quietly earning acclaim from fans and critics alike for their revival of the early 2010’s indie-rock and emo, which was just starting to lose popularity when Foxing entered the music scene.

Cheap Perfume

Where: HQ Denver

When: 8 p.m. 

Denver’s own Cheap Perfume owns any stage they find themselves on. Packing aggression, passion and all the energy they can muster into each show, Cheap Perfume never fails to have a good time and speak their minds. Catch them at the HQ Denver on Friday for a noisy punk show that’s bound to shake up the night, and perhaps ruffle some feathers in the process.

Nina de Freitas

Where: The L

When: 9 p.m.

Nina de Freitas has appeared in 303 Magazine multiple times — and for good reason. We originally met her as the frontwoman for Nina & the Hold Tight and have since been kept up with by her carrying voice. The singer, who has admitted to enjoying quiet, intimate venues, will play at the L — a smaller venue suited to appreciate the soft and smooth vocals of de Freitas. Her latest track with fellow Denver singer Isadora Eden called “Pavement Cracks” is soothing in its sorrows and subtle by way of its poppy beats. It will be interesting to watch her performance, given the audience and the venue, but there’s no doubt her voice will stun the ears of attendees.

Nina & the Hold Tight. Photo by Brittni Bell Warshaw.

Cat Evans

Where: The Hornet

When: 9 p.m.

Confidence oozes from the pen and performance of Cat Evans. When the Denver-native dropped Gifts of Grey in 2020, it was simply a further extension of her versatility, piling onto the strong base she created with previous work Baby Tears. She’s honed the power of a ‘turn up’ (see “Block Party”). She’s honed the power of a ‘tap in’ (see “Walk Away”), and on the 29th, she’ll further hone her ability to turn any environment into a musical celebration.

Saturday, July 30


Where: Underground Stage

When: 6:25 p.m.

Denver’s most compelling breakout star in 2022, N3ptune and his creative partner, Rusty Steve, have maintained their momentum towards global stardom with electrifying performances and anti-pop anthems. N3ptune’s music ranges from raw hip-hop to gospel blues to hyper-pop, but it’s all great. As great as N3ptune’s music is, it’s his performance and on-stage chemistry with Rusty Steve that make the act such a stand-out in Denver’s music scene. More than anything, N3ptune is an experience, and a show you should definitely not miss at this year’s UMS.


N3ptune & Rusty Steve. Photo by Roxanna Carrasco.

Shady Oaks

Where: Stoney’s Cantina

When: 7 p.m. 

“Garage rock” is too large a cloak that overshadows the boisterous and diverse rock roots embedded in the local band, Shady Oaks. The Denver quintet carries heavy elements of blues and garage rock through heavy guitar distortion but when they slow the pace, like “Home” — a track from their 2022 EP — their sound takes on an homage to various branches of the rock genre. It’s garage, it’s blues, psychedelic and folk all intertwined and complimentary to each style. Their music digitized can’t possibly capture the raw energy they actually emit. Shady Oaks are sure to draw people in from the streets.

The Knocks

Where: Showcase Stage

When: 8:45 p.m.

James Patterson and Ben Ruttner are the global dance icons known as The Knocks. The disco-house duo from NYC are known in all corners of the music industry as fun-loving music enthusiasts whose style can’t be boxed in by traditional labels like “electronic” and “indie.” Instead, they pull elements from indie-pop, groovy disco and even hip-hop to construct their massive hits, many of which have made their way to the global airwaves, radio stations across the country, and today’s biggest TikTok trends. Regardless of which direction their sound leans towards at any given point, their music has a distinct rhythm and purpose: to light up the dancefloor.

Pink Fuzz

Where: Hi-Dive

When: 11 p.m.

Pink Fuzz has been making a name for themselves in Denver’s consistently-cool punk scene. With their hard-hitting riffs, enticingly low vocals and exciting up-tempo beats, the recipe for Pink Fuzz works just a little too well, especially in a live-show setting. They know how to utilize a funky bassline and, appropriately, the fuzz pedal. Though late on the bill, it would be a tragedy to miss the burgeoning indie rockers this weekend.

Pink Fuzz. Photo by Roxanna Carrasco.

Sunday, July 31

Peach Street Revival

Where: The L

When: 4 p.m.

Peach Street Revival is a breath of fresh air, given the band is only 243 miles away from Denver. The four-piece band blends ‘80s metal, punk and blues into one kick-ass, female-dominated band. The Grand Junction band has a style and grit that is much needed to stand out in the oversaturated music industry and an attitude to their music that inspires the sort of rebellion born from rock ‘n’ roll. With vocals reminiscent of Robert Plant and a stage presence that’s as engaging as it is passionate, Peach Street Revival is a band to watch outside of UMS in hopes of more Denver shows.

Mile High Soul Club

Where: Oasis Stage

When: 7:45 p.m.

The sultans of soul reside right here in Denver, and on Sunday, you can join them in their vinyl-fueled throw-down. Lipgloss founder Tyler “Danger” Jacobson and Rockabilly and Ribs founder DJ DogBoy combined heads to create Mile High Soul Club back in 2008. After adding DJ Steve Cervantes in 2012, they became one of the city’s highest-energy trios. They’ve spun wax ahead of performances by Lenny Kravitz, Fred Schneider of the B-52’s and more — blending a mixture of deep cuts in soul, funk, R&B and anything that gets your bones shaking and your eardrums smiling.


Where: Showcase Stage

When: 7:55 p.m.

Have you ever felt a bass line in your teeth or a raspy vocal hit you square in the chest? That’s what it feels like listening to Bully. It is a visceral, borderline carnal experience sure to get you grooving. Her 2020 hit “Where to Start,” with its ‘90s Hole-era influence, beautifully encapsulates the confusion of dealing with another person who makes you revert back to a former self you’ve tried to shed. If you don’t know where to start on your UMS journey, hanging out at the Showcase Stage and catching acts before Bully would be far from your worst choice.

The Beths

Where: Underground Stage

When: 8:20 p.m. 

The Beths are the perfect balance between pop, alternative and punk. With a sound rooted in driving guitar riffs and captivating vocals, The Beths deliver a unique package of intriguing musicality and catchy choruses. Don’t skip out on The Beth’s at UMS this year, as their catchy tunes and passionate performance will surely stick with you long after their set ends.

Retrofette. Photo by Meg O’Neill.

The Smokestack Relics

Where: Skylark Lounge

When: 9 p.m.

The Smokestack Relics describe themselves as a “dirty swamp band,” a fitting identifier for a duo that pairs Tom Waits-styled vocals with blues- and jazz-driven instrumentals that drip with sounds you’d expect to hear deep in the heart of Appalachia. And if you’re around at the start of their set, find yourself a good chair and plan to stay for a while. The duo commands attention with raucous stage presence and infectious energy quickly spreads throughout the crowd, electrifying the space with untethered energy that will hold your captive attention until the set ends.

Faye Webster

Where: Showcase Stage

When: 9 p.m. 

Atlanta-based singer/songwriter Faye Webster is seamlessly making her way to popularity among the masses, with her angelic vocals and honest lyricism. Webster pours every raw emotion she feels into her music, which speaks volumes about her talent as a songwriter. Webster’s peaceful stage presence and ease in delivering even the most vulnerable of lines is sure to hypnotize the audience and make for an ethereal performance.