Can you feel it in the air? The UMS is right around the corner and, to be totally honest, I’m absolutely giddy.
Even when I was writing for a different newspaper in town, The UMS was my favorite musical event of the summer. Not only are the bands fantastic, the venues accommodating and the ticket prices ridiculously low, but it’s also like a neighborhood hoedown for Denver’s entire music-loving community. As Steve Gray of Maraca Five-0 said to me last week, you get to bump into 100 of your closest friends among the thousands in attendance.
To get the most out of an event like The UMS, though, you have to have a plan. As I mentioned about a month ago, you’ve got to do your homework, organize your expedition and be prepared. Well, this column isn’t going to make step one a piece of cake.
With over 300 bands in the lineup, it just isn’t possible to do your homework about all of them. However, as it turns out, we’ve featured more than ten percent of them in Steal This Track, the weekly Reverb column that gives away free and legal downloads of Colorado music. So we’re going to use that valuable resource to give you a crash course in the artists playing the 10th annual Denver Post Underground Music Showcase.
Before we get started, one caveat: the other 270 or so artists playing next weekend are more than worthy of your time and attention. You should seek out their music and get familiar! The Artists page of the UMS website is a nearly bottomless treasure chest of valuable info, links to music streams and more.
OK, now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s get to the music. Just click on the links as you read and you’ll soon be able to put together your very own UMS mixtape. To make things manageable, we’ll just tackle Thursday and Friday this week.
On Thursday night, the first night of the festival, I recommend you start slow. It’s a school night, after all, and you’ve got to pace yourself. You might catch Paean on the Verizon Droid Stage at the Skylark Lounge at 9 p.m., and then choose between Roger, Roll on that same stage or Pacific Pride on the Beonair.com Stage at the Irish Rover at 11:55.
The next night, Friday, you’re going to want to pack some Cliff bars and drink lots of water because there’s a TON of great music to hear, starting at 6 p.m. with 200 Million Years at the Skylark or Jason Cain at Sketch.
At 8 p.m., yours truly will be rocking the ones and zeros pseudonymously as DJ Savior Breath over on the Goat Vodka Stage at Delite (shameless plug, yes). You could stop by and say hi, or pop over to the Heineken Stage at Import Warehouse to catch mighty Mane Rok. And this is where the tough choices start.
At 8:30 p.m., while Mane is still mid-set, the bootgazers of Wentworth Kersey will be starting up at Fentress Architects Materials Garden, and hot on their heels at 9 p.m. will be Jesse Manley on the Heineken Stage at the Hornet, Carbon Choir at the Skylark, and John Common and Blinding Flashes of Light on the CarToys Stage in the Goodwill parking lot.
At 10 p.m., you’ll again have too many great acts to choose from, including three previously featured in Steal This Track: the Knew on the Verizon Wireless Stage at the Hi-Dive, Lion Sized on the Evergroove Stage at 3 Kings Tavern, and Bop Skizzum on the ShareTheMic Stage at Moe’s Bar-B-Que. And at 11 p.m., drag your exhausted butt over to the Skylark for a set from Dust on the Breakers.
Wow. We’re less than halfway through the bacchanalian schedule for the UMS and we’ve already given you 14 tasty tracks to tempt you. We love giving you free stuff. Check back next Friday for 20 more tracks from UMS artists. In the meantime, go buy some fresh sunscreen, and if you haven’t picked up your UMS wristband yet, get on it!
Eryc Eyl is a veteran music journalist, critic and Colorado native who has been neck-deep in local music for many years. Check out Steal This Track every Tuesday for local music you can HEAR, and the Mile High Makeout every Friday. Against his mother’s advice, Eryc has also been known to tweet.