Local Lists: James Irvine


James and Ellen, about to split an Uber.

For those of you who know me personally, you know that the Underground Music Showcase (UMS) is one of my all-time favorite events.  Not only do I enjoy the music, the people watching, and the general revelry, but I also just love the fact that everyone is in such a great goddamn mood.  Seriously, it’s like those wristbands have some low-grade Molly baked into them or something.

And now in its 14th year, the UMS  (aka You a Mess) has once again evolved and upped the ante on fun.  So what’s new this year?  Well here are a few key features worth noting:

  1. The main stage: Although it is just moving across the street to the Social Security Federal Credit Union parking lot, this new location means more shade, the addition of picnic tables, and an upgraded sound and lighting system.  Not only will this lend itself to a more pleasant viewing experience, but it will also further complement this year’s amazeball line-up.
    • Plus!  If you open a checking account this week at the Security Service Federal Credit Union, you will receive a free 4-day pass to this year’s UMS – skewer.
  2. Increased national attention: With mentions from Brooklyn Vegan and Paste Magazine, the UMS has a growing reputation as a destination festival.
  3. The SESH presented by Colorado Creative Industries and Something Independent:  The SESH is a free, professional development opportunity for musicians, bands, producers, and the music community.  All events are FREE and open to the public.
  4. Day Parties: I get it.  It’s 11am on Saturday, you’ve been partying for two nights already and you’re contemplating waiting until the sun goes down to start again, right?  WRONG.  Because this year the UMS is introducing the concept of day parties, which will be hosted by the likes of Smash Music Management, Holy Underground + MusicFestival App, CU Denver College of Arts and Media, SpokesBUZZ, Moon Magnet Studios, and others.  They’ll start at noon on Saturday and Sunday and will feature curated guests by each sponsoring entity.  I for one am curious what these jammy jams will be like and am excited to check them out.
  5. Additional parking: This year’s UMS will feature 200 new public parking spaces at 363 S. Broadway, which will hopefully make things less stressful for both festivalgoers and Baker residents.  (However, what is even less stressful is taking an Uber or a Lyft, or even rocking the 0 bus line.

And here are some things that are not necessarily new, but are still worth mentioning:

  1. Comedy at The Safari Room and Adrift: It’s hot and you may or may not have an awkward sunburn – why not take a break and listen to some comedy?  The UMS features some of the funniest comedians in town, all included in the price of your wristband.
  2. No festival feet or overwhelming port-a-potty lines: Part of the reason why this festival is so unique is that it takes place amongst the iconic shops, restaurants, and bars of the Baker neighborhood.  So feel free to make a drunken sunglass purchase at Buffalo Exchange, have an ice cream at Sweet Action, or a heavy metal beer at TRVE Brewing Company.  The festival will be patiently waiting for you when you’re done.

Now, even after reading all of these exciting things, you may still be on the fence – maybe you feel like you don’t know enough of the bands, or that you’ve never been before and you’re not sure what it will be like.  Or maybe you’re afraid you’ll run into your dumb dumb ex, or you’re scared it may rain on your new perm.  Just trust me on this one: the UMS is a festival I plan on attending every year, even before the line-up is announced.  It’s just that much fun.  Quit your over-analyzing and do yourself a favor by buying your festival pass right now.  Prices increase to $75 on Wednesday, July 23rd and you don’t want to be kicking yourself later.

And now, without any further ado (I know, right?), UMS Talent Buyer/Promoter James Irvine took some time out of his (I can’t even imagine how) busy schedule to provide us with some pro tips for this year’s fest.  Read on to find out what’s good at this year’s UMS.

Name: James M. Irvine

Occupation: Talent Buyer/Promoter at The Denver Post’s Underground Music Showcase (UMS)

A little about yourself: Promoter at Larimer Lounge, founder/manager at Holy Underground, I love good foods and strong drinks.  I jumped into the music industry when my dreams of becoming a professional basketball player got crushed.  I still have a wicked jump shot.

Describe the UMS in 5 words or less: Bountiful.  Rock.  Sweaty.  Synergy.  Community.

Name three local acts that shouldn’t be missed: #1 Excited to see Oko Tygra for the first time.  #2 Looking forward to catching recent transplant Eros and the Eschaton; they’ve got a great indie-pop meets Sonic Youth thing going.  I love bands that aren’t afraid to get noisey and weird.  #3 would be all the Holy Underground acts playing.  Shameless self-promotion, but they are all really incredible.  I’m fortunate to manage some great talent in this town.

Name two national act that shouldn’t be missed: Just two?  How about ten?!?  Real Estate, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Blonde Redhead, The Men, Gardens & Villa, Roadkill Ghost Choir, Equals, Fort Frances, Whiskey Shiver, Walker Lukens.

Do you have a favorite UMS venue? The main stage.  I also love seeing non-­traditional venues transformed; I think Eslinger Gallery is going to be wonderful.

Favorite UMS memory: 2011 – Big Freedia’s performance.  She MADE the main stage that year.  So much energy, I saw kids running to watch her set.  Also, late night hangouts with some of the bands I admire over the last couple of years: Cults, Class Actress, Brothertiger, Lord Huron, Atlas Sound, etc.

What’s new about this year’s festival: We’re 14 years old now.  Every year we strive to improve on the previous year.  This includes all aspects of the festival: everything from talent, to communication.  Exciting to me is the level of talent we’ve brought in this year.  With this level of talent, we’ve found it necessary to also increase the production value for the audience.  Our main stage is now moved across the street from the Goodwill Parking lot.  We’re now occupying Social Security Federal Credit Union parking lot.  It’s a larger area, with better sight lines, better production and sound, better lighting – an entirely better experience at the main stage.

If someone has never attended the UMS before, why should they attend this year: I think the obvious reason is the chance to see 400+ performers for $50.  That is an insane deal.  Some of these bands by themselves command $20+ tickets in venues.  I also think the idea that someone can come to the festival and find their favorite new band is amazing.  Such an abundance of talent, both locally and nationally.

What are some of your festival-going tips: Being an active festival attender myself, I’d suggest the following: tip your bartenders, wear sunscreen, be nice, explore as many bands as you possibly can, wear comfortable shoes, stay hydrated.  Overall: don’t get burnt-out the first night, i.e. don’t go Bernie.

What are you looking forward to doing after the festival is over: Hopefully exploring our beautiful state; I’ve yet to get outside of the city this summer.  I’m also looking forward to turning off my email for a couple days.

Any additional thoughts/plugs: Thanks for everyone’s continued support; I couldn’t ask for a better job.  See you at the UMS and the Larimer Lounge soon.  Also: http://www.holyunderground.com ;)