The Underground Music Showcase took over the South Broadway neighborhood July 27 – 30th. The attendees had over 300 bands to see throughout 13 plus venues. The weekend was packed with varieties of performers and genres to enjoy.
Tune into The Shaky Experience to hear my UMS review, playlist, and interview with GVgrace.
I kicked off my start to the showcase by seeing Jocko Homo at Skylark Thursday night. They are a Devo tribute band that does a great impression of the real thing. They played the classic hits such as “Whip It” and “Freedom Of Choice.” They wore bright yellow jumpsuits with red hats just like Devo. It was an exciting start, but I was eager to see the next band on my list.
3 Kings was the next stop of the night to see Colfax Speed Queen. The band kicked things off by drinking whiskey on stage and sharing it with the crowd. Immediately afterwards they started rocking! The entire venue was packed to the brim with fans. They made an enormous impression by keeping the crowd dancing to the rock’n roll horror sounds they produce. The energy of the band enlightened the fans to comeback for more. After their set the band shook hands and talked to several festival goers. I had the pleasure of talking to the vocalist, Matt. He was very kinda spirited and humble to how many people loved his band. We briefly chatted about his band coming on my radio show in the future. I left the venue and called it a night.
The next day the lineup was stacked with great musicians to see. Whole Milk was the first band on my agenda to watch perform at Skylark. Vocalist Alec Fleisher, a Colorado native turned LA resident, brought him and the band out to play UMS. The guys have a jazzy beach vibe that made the crowd groove in the perfect way. During the duration of their set, they gave shout outs to their friends and fans. The band put on a thriller performance that pumped up the start of the night.
The Outfit scheduled UMS as the band’s last show ever. The vocalist, Eric, was one of the first people I ever met since moving to Denver. He’s a great guy with a rock’n roll soul. This was a performance that was bittersweet to watch. The band kicked things off by rocking out with hard hitting tunes to get the crowd moving. One of the last tunes they played was their song “What Happened To You.” The lyrics and music went perfect with the setting of it being their last show. Eric jumped off stage during the last song into the crowd, hugging the fans and embracing the 8 year legacy the band created.
Two hours later at 3 Kings, Dirty Few was up to play. The party rock band brought the festivities to the festival. After a successful performance at Project Pabst music festival earlier this year. The band was experienced and ready to get the fans to lighten up. Dirty Few were jumping up and down with the crowd. They encouraged the fans to smoke weed during the songs about weed and drink beer during their songs about beer. The fans crowd surfed during most of their set. The crowd couldn’t get enough and neither could the guests they had on the side of the stage. It was a blast seeing them and a fantastic way to end my Friday night.
Saturday was upon us and it was time to keep my schedule moving. GVgrace was the first band I was delighted to see perform. The group performed Syntax Physic Opera which is a beautiful historic venue. The two piece originally from Denver moved out to LA to continue their careers in a city with higher volume. They performed a dance pop set during the Guilty Pleasures Records party. I had the pleasure of interviewing the band in the basement of the venue after their set. They were absolutely wonderful to talk with and very insightful about their music history.
We walked upstairs and Kitty Crimes was performing a stellar show. KC always knows how to get the crowd in the palm of her paws. She has the perfect rap game, along with solid dance moves. The venue was too packed to move due to the crowd she had. I had to stand on top of a chair in the back to enjoy her set from afar. Her fans were ecstatic during her entire set.
I walked over to the main stage to see my old friends Slow Caves perform. The band is a four piece of two brothers each that read each other very well in terms of music. They all have similar influences that makes their music fun to jam out to. The band were grateful and delighted by the fans. After their set I walked around the festival to admire some of the vendors and instillation’s throughout the showcase. I caught up with some friends and had a beer at Illegal Pete’s with a side of chips to rejuvenate.
Vinyl Williams was recommended to me by one of the coordinators of the festival. I took his word for it and was blown away by the performance. The band has an amazing psychedelic sound that captivates the listeners to continue to engage into the vortex of their grooves. The vocalist Lionel Williams grandfather, John Williams, is a very well respected composer. He has done work for Stars Wars, Harry Potter, and Jurassic Park. I stepped away from Vinyl Williams set for a brief few minutes to catch the band Parallelephants. I was astonished by the sound Parallelephants produced. If you crave funk, r&b, soul, sex appeal than this band is for you. They are hailing from LA and came to town to be apart of the showcase. I caught a few songs of theirs and made my way back to Vinyl Williams. The band was encouraged for multiple encores in which they gave the crowd exactly what they wanted.
After a magnificent evening, I went home to relax for a little while. However; my music journey wasn’t finished. I biked to Gary Lee’s to catch a band called The Baltic. The band identifies their sound as dream rock and shoegaze. They put on such an incredible performance by giving the crowd something very unique to gaze into. The vocals primarily come from the drummer, the song “Fortitude” hit hard for me by the unusual nature of the format of the song and vocals. Once their set was over, I talked to the band briefly and made my way home.
Sunday was the last day of the festival. The musicians were geared up to put forth a good ending to a great weekend. I had the pleasure of seeing Grass at Skylark as my first band of the day. They played a noisy, garage set that had the locals enthused for the rest of the day. Afterwards I made my way to see my good friends Vic & The Narwhals perform at The Irish Rover. The band has a distinct fun sound that gives the crowd a pop. I like to compare their music to a modern age The Zombies feel. It has a spooky dance vibe that compares to almost no one else. During the last song the vocalist Vic crowd surfed all the way to the end of the venue. He made his way back just in time to end the song with his exotic vocals.
Once their set was finished, I rushed over to the main stage to see Brent Cowles. It was my third time seeing Brent, my first time was at Illegal Pete’s during a free spring concert. The second time was at UMS Press Party where he did an intimate show for the guests that were invited that night. This time was on the big stage performing in front of a much larger crowd. He poured his heart and soul into his music as always. He played his hits “Cold Times” and “Lift Me Up.” The crowd was clapping and singing along. Up next was Benjamin Booker, the fans welcomed him with warm hearts. He played the blues on his guitar and rocked out in a garage style. Benjamin closed out the main stage. The fans were smiling with joy after seeing such a great weekend of music.
The festival was just about over, but I wanted to see one more band before I said goodbye. Tobias Krause recommended me to see Landlines, claiming that they were life changing. I followed Tobias’ instructions and I was super impressed. The band has keyboardist, drummer, cello, and vocals. The singer put a soothing sound into the air leaving the crowd in a comforting state to end out the showcase.
The Underground Music Showcase is truly a discovery festival. It also is a place to make friends and have one of the best times in Colorado during the summer. I am sincerely grateful for all the bands, venues, and UMS team that put the showcase together. What makes Denver’s music scene thrive is togetherness.
Author: James Lane
James Richard Lane is originally from Baltimore, Maryland. He moved to Denver August 2016 to pursue new endeavors. He joined the MET Radio staff in May 2017 to bring a fresh, exciting sound to the station. James’ background is in entertainment and marketing. He’s been identified on television shows (The Price Is Right, House Of Cards, Veep) and movies (The Dark Knight Rises). He performs as a musician under Pelvis Presley (solo) and The Shaky Experience (as a collective). During his time in Baltimore, James hosted and performed monthly DIY shows in a hostel’s basement for nearly 3 years. James wanted to continue his legacy within the music scene in Denver by joining forces with Met Media.