Beards, Bruises and Beer: Surviving The 2016 UMS

Another year, another UMS. If you convinced your boss to give you all four days off, you’re probably looking a lot like us, hiding in the bathroom stall at work and drinking coffee from a styrofoam cup trying to count your weekend’s whiskey gingers. Just kidding, we’re not still hungover. It’s Friday. Sighs. We’re more likely suffering from PUMS-- Post Underground Music Showcase syndrome. Although WebMD does not officially recognize PUMS, we’ve seen widespread cases of poor concentration, fatigue, headache, shin splints, and breast tenderness (for the last one we blame the pit at Thee Oh Sees’ set on Saturday). 

John Dwyer of Thee Oh Sees (Photo Credit: Robert Castro)

The Underground Music Showcase has been bringing Denver’s local acts to the forefront of our attention for 15 years running now, showing the public at large what goes on behind closed doors in places like RocketSpace, Denver’s practice space for local bands to experiment (not with sex or drugs, but rock and roll, you sly and dastardly person). 

iZCALLi proving why The UMS is important. (Photo Credit: Andrew Rios)

Olivia Rudeen at the South Broadway Church (Photo Credit: Maddie Casey)

UMS is a festival which proves that Denver rivals the city which claims to be the alt-music mecca: Austin, Texas. UMS, like SXSW, occurs all over the city in bars and music venues and showcases a wide variety of performances, this year spanning from Casey James & the Burning Angels to Decollage. Across South Broadway over a dozen venues opened their doors for swarms of music lovers and over 400 bands, allowing their floors to become sticky seas of sweat, beer, spirits and everything else you can imagine that tracked in. Illegal Pete’s showcased dozens of acts and buttcracks (on the stage and on the free mechanical bull in the Pete’s parking lot).

Straight up honky tonk country. (photo Credit: Maddie Casey)

Taco Cat send all kinds of glitter punk vibes (Photo Credit: Robert Castro)

Singer-Songwriter showcase was brilliant. (Photo Credit: Maddie Casey)

Noah Shomberg of The Yawpers. (Photo Credit: Andrew Rios)

Friday saw weather that was surprisingly tame with a slight breeze rifling through the many coifed manes of bandmates and attendees. The Allah-Las gained a large draw around sunset, and onlookers shimmied and kicked complacently, their Breck Brews and cocktails far from spilling in their mild sways to the even milder licks. Mid-set, the sprinklers lining the grass along the sidewalk turned on and surprised the dazed audience, and some frolicking ensued as people tried to pass through without getting soaked.

Saturday afternoon was sunburn inducing, and Youth on Record’s station saw the drenching of both Amy Osgood and Virgil Dickerson. The water reportedly, “Did not taste good”, but still remained a mildly tempting method of beating the heat. Saturday night saw light showers of blood, sweat and tears. Thee Oh Sees kicked off the night on the Mainstage before back to back sets at Hi-dive, with Dirty Few, Dudebabes, Spells, Ned Garth (who pelted us with champagne, silly string, glow necklaces and confetti) and ended with Bud Bronson, a rapid fire succession of sets that lasted from 9 PM until last call. Nothing says “I love music” like romping around, losing shirt buttons in three layers of mosh-pit nastiness and glow stick taste on our tongues.

The dunk tank was a huge hit this year. (Photo Credit: Robert Castro)

All proceeds went to Youth on Record. (Photo Credit: Robert Castro)

We resurrected ourselves on Sunday for Decollage, Couches, LSD Bags, Anthony Ruptak, and POLICA, whose stunning vocals ended our UMS with a big, synthesized bow. All in all, we saw an amazing conglomeration of people. Shout out to all of the weirdos who reared their heads and made the festival what it was: a celebration of the good, the strange, and the beautiful. 

Take a peek from our photographer’s lenses and see for yourself our top performances of this year’s Underground Music Showcase. 

Austin's own The Bright Light Social Hour. (Photo Credit: Robert Castro)

Until next year, 

The Ultra5280 Team