303 Magazine’s UMS Survival Guide To a Successful Weekend

It’s that time of the year. Denver’s most notable music celebration is upon us. The Underground Music Showcase takes place next weekend, July 29-31. And 303 Magazine has compiled a handy UMS Survival Guide to make sure you start your festival weekend off on the right foot. Why a survival guide? The Underground Music Showcase is a three-day event and it stretches just under 10 blocks of Broadway Street — the size itself can be overwhelming so it’s important to attend with the proper context and content. Not to mention this being the biggest UMS since the pandemic. So without further ado: what to remember when heading to the Underground Music Showcase — whether it’s your first or fifth time.

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UMS attendees casually hanging out. Photo by Brittany Werges.

Music festivals and showcases can often be calamitous if you’re not prepared. There’s no need for a complete itinerary, but it is helpful to know where you need to go and how to get there. The first thing you’re going to want to think about is your transportation. 

Although South Broadway itself is a commercial street filled with different shops and restaurants that offer plenty of street parking, those spaces will most definitely be filled, blocked off or rare to find. The residential area surrounding the event has street parking as well, but be sure to pay attention to where you’re parking. Some areas are strictly reserved for residents and the last thing you want to discover after having a kick-ass day is a missing car. That said, ridesharing is your best friend for events such as this. One, you don’t have to waste time or worry about getting towed and two, it’s the smarter option, especially if you plan on drinking. Leave the driving to someone else to fully enjoy the weekend. 

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Broadway Street during UMS. Photo by Brittany Werges.

Secondly, know what stage(s) your favorite artists and bands are playing and how to get there. The Underground Music Showcase has listed the lineup and a map to help with this — use it. If you’re attending a whole day or even the whole weekend, it’s easy to lose track of time and distance. You might know exactly where you need to go but underestimate how long it takes to travel from one stage to another. There are scooters and bikes to rent, however, they might not be available for the exact time you need them. Nothing’s worse than only catching the encore of an artist you were excited to see. A lot of artists will be playing multiple venues and shows, so don’t stress too hard about attending a specific timeslot, but also pay attention to the lineup schedule if you absolutely cannot miss a few acts. 

READ: An Audiophile’s Guide to the 2022 UMS Lineup
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2016 UMS attendee in their summer concert fit. Photo by Brittany Werges.

Third, make sure you are comfortable with your attire. Music festivals are notorious for bringing out fashionable attendees. Look your best self but make sure you’re not going to be miserable the whole day because you decided to finally try that latex outfit you’ve been wanting to show off. Sunglasses are a must in the sunny height of the summer. Bring your most stylish pair and then bring that cheap pair you got for free at a promotional event because it’s not unheard of to lose your sunglasses at a music festival. Comfortable shoes are your best friend — whatever comfort means to you. You might be okay in Converse the whole day or you might want to rock the Crocs. Either way, comfortable feet are happy feet. Similarly, take care of your skin and head. Wear SPF (and bring it along if you’re doing a full day) to avoid a gnarly post-fest sunburn for the first week of August and maybe even a full-coverage hat or baseball cap. Protect that noggin from those UV rays. The last thing you need is a peeling head. 

Fourth — purses, packs or bags aren’t a necessity but are helpful to carry all your often-overlooked knick-knacks. What should you carry if you decide to bring an extra small bag? If you’re trying to keep your eardrums intact, earplugs aren’t a bad place to start. You’ll likely be close to large speakers. It’s the adult decision, but understandable to crave the raw audio waves. Another lifesaver would be chapstick. This is Colorado — it’s going to be hot and it’s going to be dry. Fair-skinned or not, remember that sunscreen we talked about? This is where you keep it. It’s smart to lather up before, but with the heat and constant movement, consistent application would be sound.

Let’s not overlook the fact that COVID is still a key factor. Masks are optional and encouraged, especially at indoor venues. You may plan the whole weekend without a face-covering but having one available could save you future anxiety in a cluttered bar or packed stage. Let’s not forget cash. It’s a locals-driven event, so support your servers and bartenders. Bring cash ahead of the event to avoid ATM fees and the awkward tension when you realize QR codes aren’t quite universal for tipping. 

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Two UMS attendees with their refillable water. Photo by Brittany Werges.

Water is an absolute necessity. Also, a reusable container to fill the water. UMS does a great job to make sure there are hydration stations running. It’s summer, the streets will be hot and it will be crowded. Avoid dehydrating by drinking plenty of water the day(s) leading up to your arrival and during the event. Enjoy the experience and avoid the headaches later. Good tip — one glass of water between each alcoholic beverage you consume will save you, should you decide to partake. You might be using the restroom more but you’ll last the night. Don’t wear yourself out the first day. It’s a rookie mistake but one so often committed. 

READ: Denver’s Underground Music Showcase To Feature First-Ever Sober Bar Concept

Performers and attendees dancing during a set. Photo by Adrienne Thomas.

Last but certainly not least — a buddy. They could be your significant other or a friend, just make sure you got someone to lean on. Don’t have anybody? Invite someone. No one to invite? Then meet a new friend at one of the many artists you’ll be seeing. Odds are you’ll at least appreciate the same music. The buddy system works for kids but it also is an adult lifesaver. But overall be kind, be thoughtful and enjoy the weekend of live music with your peers and neighbors.

READ: Youth on Record Reimagines and Replenishes UMS