You A Mess

Photo of UMS sign.

All hail, the great UMS!

Below you will find my review of the 2014 Underground Music Showcase (UMS). I am not sure why I never posted it, but I believe it still has relevance to this year’s fest. With 400 bands across 4 days and nearly 20 venues, UMS is one of the best things that Denver has to offer. This year’s fest runs from Thursday, July 23rd through Sunday, July 26th. Tickets are still available and are $25 cheaper than the day of. My advice? Get yours now and figure it all out later #UMS2015

Would it be completely corny to say that music festivals represent a microcosm of life? To propose that the actions, the emotions, and the waves of activity that take place over a particular 3 – 4 day period, reflect the same ones that usually occur over a period of several months? If so, I do apologize in advance but that was exactly my experience this past weekend at the 14th annual Underground Music Showcase (UMS).

For me, this year’s UMS was filled with the highs and the lower highs that one normally experiences throughout life – the sensation of knowing that I was in the exact right place at the exact right time, followed by moments when I felt like I was completely missing out. Times when I was with the perfect crew of people, followed by fleeting moments when I wondered if the people around me were just merely tolerating my presence. During this year’s fest, I saw a bunch of old familiar faces and met a number of new friendly folks, feeling a mixture of satisfaction and fear of being a little too overzealous/drunk in my interactions with them. I also went through a full cycle of emotions with my beau: love, annoyance, complete annoyance, brief separation, drunken pizza eating, forgiveness, and total contentment.

Like my normal everyday life (unfortunately), there was lots of self-analysis in-between moments of letting go and forgetting about all my neuroses, if only for a few moments.

This always happened while listening to the music.

Unfortunately (yet not surprisingly) I did not get to see every single band that I wanted to see. Each morning of the fest, I would start my day by scrolling through my Facebook feed, viewing evidence of some epic performance that I had missed. Sometimes it was bands that I had planned to see, sometimes it was bands I had never even heard of, or even worse, sometimes it was performances that I didn’t even know were supposed to happen. But regardless of all the FOMO, I did get to see some incredible acts that made me grin from ear-to-ear like a complete idiot and a couple that made me actually worry that I was going to cry (emotions, man). Here are just some of the highlights from the entire experience:

  • The Blue Rider, Friday at 3 Kings Tavern – Just the right amount of energy to get everyone pumped up for what was to come that night.
  • People Under the Stairs, Friday at the main stage – My apologies if I drunkenly asked you if you had any weed.
  • Tanlines, Friday at the main stage – Sad but true: New Year’s Eve 2013, I was supposed to go see a Tanlines DJ set at the Brooklyn Bowl. Instead I got really drunk, went Godzilla, and almost destroyed the city of New York. Was thankful for a do-over. Take back the night/take back the Tanlines memory.
  • Colfax Speed Queen, Friday at 3 Kings Tavern – My apologies if I threw beer on you and/or stepped all over your feet.
  • The Blue Rider, Saturday at the yellow house – I am probs now a super fan.
  • The Griswolds, Saturday at 3 Kings Tavern – Not only were they fun, but they had such appreciation and reverence for the audience, you couldn’t help favoriting their set.
  • In The Whale, Sunday at the Hi-Dive – I found myself busting out my 2am dance moves at 2pm. Plus they bought everyone in the audience free beer #score
  • Land Lines, Sunday at the yellow house – Just the kind of harmonic therapy my tattered soul needed at that time.
  • SPELLS, Sunday at the Mile High Parley outdoor stage – So much fun, you couldn’t slap the smile off of my face.
Trying to cover up the day 4 UMS smeared all over my face.

Trying to cover up the day 4 UMS smeared all over my face

Additional takeaways from the weekend:

  • The main stage sounded amazing this year – great job on the move!
  • The yellow house was the most comforting venue. It became a familiar, lush touchstone throughout the fest where we could all escape for an hour or so, before returning to the streets.
  • The free Mojo bars probs gave me at least another hour or so of hanging out each day.
  • You can pretty much get away with anything fashion-wise if you are in a band.
  • The clouds and the cleansing mist at this year’s fest deserved a standing ovation.
  • I really wish I did not give up the trumpet in the 4th grade.

So there you go. I would definitely chalk this year’s UMS up as a success, perhaps even one of the best. I continue to look forward to seeing this festival evolve and the other parties and events that it inspires. After four days, it certainly takes it toll, but in a really really good way. I’ll lick my wounds, wonder exactly what I said to that drummer, and be quietly anticipating the next time the storm rolls into town.