The 15th annual Underground Music Showcase in Denver this weekend hosted almost 400 local and national acts, making it impossible to catch everyone. Tons of bars and venues lined on South Broadway, where each band gave it their all. Headliners played on the main stage located just west of Broadway and Archer and smaller acts played in tiny dive bars where crowds of sweaty people fought to get up front. Below is a list of eight standout acts from the four-day music festival.
Champagne Charlie kicked off UMS Thursday, July 23 at 3 Kings Tavern. The passion put into every single one of their performances is so evident. Champagne Charlie has an eclectic sound that makes them stand out compared to so many other bands that played at UMS. They are a local favorite, who plays at various venues and festivals around Denver. Even though they didn’t play until midnight on Thursday, they still had a decent sized crowd. The lead singer, Ryan King, has the best facial expressions while he’s up front playing guitar. He interacts with the crowd a great amount, as you can see in the photo, he clinked his beer with a concertgoer. Their sound, is a mix of jazz, punk and blues and are always a band that shouldn’t be missed when they come around.
Wild High played the first night as well at midnight, which was another great start to UMS. Their set was at the Hi-Dive in Denver, one of the most anticipated venues of the festival. Wild High is a four-piece band from Denver and they are described as “psych-rock.” Even though the Hi-Dive was packed, sweaty and by this time the floors were filled with Pabst, they didn’t hold anything back as they performed to an eager, partly drunk crowd. Wild High brought tons of energy to the stage, even though a little bit mellower than other music happening at the same time.
Walking into the Hi-Dive at midnight on Friday not knowing what to expect, another local band, Eldren, was about to take the stage. The six-piece band was something to stick around for. Their sound is something that wasn’t expected. The first song they played sounded like something from Two Door Cinema club, and then transitioned into more hard rock. According to their Facebook page, Eldren is “A psychedelic dream rock super pop soundgasm that will grip your eyes and ears and leave you trembling with a sense of wonder and want.” The best part of their band is their violinist, who played an amazing solo.
Residual Kid, most likely the youngest band to perform at UMS, was one of the most anticipated acts of the weekend. The three-piece band from Austin held nothing back as they played at the Hi-Dive on Saturday at 5 p.m, at just one of their sets. They also performed the night before. The leader singer, Ben Redman, has amazing vocals while playing guitar. For a day concert, the Hi-Dive was packed, the line was down the block and it was almost impossible to see the stage. Maybe it was because of how young they are (they aren’t even 18 yet), but they probably had the most energy and passion while playing at the whole festival. Their crowd interaction was unforgettable, and is definitely a band to look out for.
STRFKR, the biggest headliner at the festival, played on the main stage at 8:30 p.m. on Saturday night, and was definitely the biggest highlight of the whole festival. They have the biggest following, so it was expected that the crowd at the main stage was going to be wild. They played for over an hour and a half, and were one of the only bands that played recognizable songs that the whole crowd could sing along to. Unfortunately, their instruments overpowered their voices, making it difficult to hear the vocals, but their music talent was completely evident. Every single person in the crowd was dancing to familiar tunes, and as the sun went down, STRFKR’s set got better, more enthusiasm was showed and the crowd got crazier.
The Epilogues played around 11 p.m. Saturday night at 3 Kings Tavern, and blew the ears off of everyone in the venue. The Epilogues are another local favorite, especially because they are a part of Greater Than Collective, Illegal Petes’ record label. The Epilogues usually sound more indie than anything else, but on Saturday, they seemed a lot more rock-orientated than in the past. It might have been because of the small venue, 3 Kings is just a bar, but their music was extremely loud for the space, but they still killed it, as usual. Still, Chris Heckman, the lead singer who also plays guitar, has a catchy voice, that is impossible not to be drawn to.
Tommy Freed and the Sound
In the past year, Tommy Freed and the Sound have grown tremendously as a band. Seeing them a year ago and then seeing them Saturday night at Skylark at midnight was a completely different experience. Even though the venue and crowd was small, most likely because by that time everyone was worn out from the day, the bands talent was so evident and radiated throughout the bar. Tommy Freed and Gabrielle Guiterrez-Reed, two members of the band share the stage with amazing vocals, while their keyboardist, Mitch Frank doesn’t miss a note. They consider themselves a psychedelic soul band, and when they put on a performance in Denver, it always draws a decent-sized crowd. It was a great way to cap off Saturday at UMS.
Last but not least, Tennis, closed out an amazing, long, hot weekend at UMS. Playing on the main stage Sunday night at 8:30 p.m., Tennis played just as the sun went down, and they were relaxing and downtempo compared to all the other commotion that was going on throughout the whole weekend. Being from Denver, Tennis drew a pretty large crowd, though it was expected for it to be a packed show. Alaina Moore’s angelic voice coordinates perfectly with Patrick Riley’s talent. Overall, they were good, but should have been earlier in the weekend, when more people would have ventured over there to catch their set.