UMS 2012: Photos and review of Saturday night - Reverb

UMS 2012: Photos and review of Saturday night

The 12th annual Denver Post Underground Music Showcase charged forward Saturday through nearly 100-degree heat with large crowds clogging the South Broadway corridor.

More venues opened their doors to the 300 or so artists while tangent events and unofficial neighborhood house parties filled the Baker neighborhood with buzz. It was a welcomed return to traditional UMS form following Friday’s moment of silence for the midnight massacre in Aurora. While many festival-goers were undoubtedly distraught on Day 2 of the showcase following the Thursday night tragedy, Day 3 saw an increasingly diverse music community evolving into one cohesive, party-ready unit.

Bonus: What was it like to be a fly on the wall last night?

Kevin Costner Suicide Pact was the first band of the weekend inside Gildar Gallery, kicking off Day 3 with experimental electronic music. The band’s four members twisted, turned and poked at various knobs and triggers before an intimate crowd — avant garde sounds in an avant garde space.

Down the street, the Whicker and Pine started the day inside the Irish Rover with a set of indie-folk-rock tinged with late-’90s pop punk. While the instrumentals were energetic, the vocals were otherwise forgettable. Upstairs on the Rover’s rooftop patio, Joe Sampson’s “Kill Our Friends” happy hour was the place to see and be seen. Sampson sat perched near his Fellow Creature Recordings label maven Jules Bethea for much of the afternoon. Aaron Collins of A. Tom Collins rubbed elbows with Hi-Dive/Sputnik owner Matt LaBarge. Earlier in the day, Nathaniel Rateliff shared drinks with James Barone of Tennis during the final hour of the Reverb Recovery Rooftop after loading in Sampson.

The two largest house parties of the day were within spitting distance of one another. The Brass Tree house hosted Wheelchair Sports Camp, Snake Rattle Rattle Snake, the Morning Clouds and more in a BYOB environment, while the Meese house (home to Nate Meese of the Centennial/Lips & Teeth) offered complimentary beer, wine, “monkey juice” and hot dogs in a picturesque backyard setting. Flashbulb Fires played indie-pop in the vein of Death Cab For Cutie as the blazing hot afternoon drifted into evening.

Accordion Crimes played a well-received set at 3 Kings Tavern that found the garage-punk band sounding particularly raw. Across the street at the Main Stage in the Goodwill parking lot, Gauntlet Hair proved tight and in-the-pocket after a short struggle through an elongated sound check.

Later, Native Daughters packed a respectable crowd at 3 Kings with their winding post-rock — some welcomed sludge and drone after what felt like a day rife with fast songs. Shabazz Palaces, perhaps the most-hyped acts of the weekend, closed the Main Stage Saturday night, though the duo’s tepid energy prevented the set from ever truly lifting off the ground. The music, while smart and capable, was perhaps too experimental for such a large space. Down the street, Shabazz’s Sub Pop labelmates THEESatisfaction offered one of the weekend’s best performances at a maximum capacity Hi-Dive. The female duo played with swagger and ease while engaging the sardine’d crowd (for an obvious comparison, think a female version of A Tribe Called Quest).

Shortly after midnight at 3 Kings, A. Tom Collins played an expectedly raucous set with frontman Aaron Collins stage diving, crowd surfing, emulating sex with his piano and abusing his mic stand. During the last song, Collins mounted his piano to lead the audience in an a capella version of the final bars of “Fuck The Pretty People.” He paused and surveyed the room in a manner reminiscent of two years prior, when his former band, Machine Gun Blues, reunited in the same space. “My city…” he said, pausing shortly “…your city.”

Day 3 came to a close with dueling cross-street parties: special guest band Flobots played to a packed Hi-Dive while parody electronic group Total Ghost led a dance party that poured out onto the sidewalk outside Delite. Last call had just passed, but no one wanted to go home.

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John Hendrickson is the managing editor of Reverb and a multimedia journalist at The Denver Post. Follow him on Twitter, if that’s what you’re into.

Seth McConnell is a member of YourHub at The Denver Post and a new contributor to Reverb.

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  • Guest

    I’ve been watching Reverb coverage of UMS and having attended the past three days, I just have to comment on a glaring omission.  I attended many of the shows you have mentioned but somehow nobody covered the Dressy Bessy show.  They had one the biggest crowds I saw over the weekend outside of the main stage and IMHO made most other bands look like amateurs.  They put on the best set by far of the weekend and packed the Skylark out into the street.  Is it because they aren’t the new kids on the block?  It’s either that or you guys don’t know what the hell you’re doing.  I’m no champion of the band as I’ve only seen them twice, but I’m here to say that they were the best band of the weekend and you guys look amateurish for not covering it.  Not even a photo of Tammy from the band who is one of the hottest girls in Denver (even at 40-something).  Good job for going with the flow and covering every buzz band that barely deserves notice.

    • Another Guest

      There are over 350 acts at The UMS, and you think that one band with a huge crowd that has had plenty of NATIONAL recognition over their years of operation not being covered (by a fading local publication) is a travesty?

      What about the 100+ amazing shows with sparsly-populated crowds which will not receive coverage … from ANYWHERE?

      The best bands are not always the bands about which everyone knows, nor the bands which have the biggest crowd. It sounds like Dressy Bessy — for a bunch of bubblegum, niche-pop, cartoon characters playing the same old tried-and-true whatever — had a great show and a great crowd, so who gives a shit about how much press they receive for such a great show with a great crowd? You were there, and so were a bunch of other people, so what’s the problem?

      Dressy Bessy doesn’t need anymore press; there are hundreds of amazingly-talented artists in Denver who nobody cares about because they don’t play cookie-cutter bullshit, and those are the artists who deserve to be covered, because those are the artists people actually have not had the opportunity to know about previously; those are the artists who were not featured on soundtracks and compilations with national brand-names like Cartoon Network.

      Your post smacks of the opinion of either someone from the band, or someone who is friends with them. Either way: that’s actually amateurish.

      • Guest

        I’m
        not sure where to start here.  I’ll start by saying you have one good
        point.  There were 300+ bands and there’s just no way that all of the
        well attended sets could be covered.  I’ll give you that for sure.  I
        also would change the tone of my previous post if I could.  I didn’t
        mean to harsh on Reverb so much. 

        However…

        It
        is funny how you think you are making some point but in fact you’re
        just highlighting the problem.  I was just stating an opinion about what
        I think is a great band that has not garnered the attention they
        deserve.  I don’t know all of their accomplishments and accolades, but
        I’m quite sure that despite making great music for 10+ years, they still
        have to work regular jobs.  Just because someone has been featured in
        Westword (or whatever) previously doesn’t mean they then have gotten
        their due. 

        You
        are obviously not a fan, but you make them sound like an 80’s nostalgia
        band, when in fact they continue to make great music.  “Dressy Bessy
        doesn’t need anymore press”.  Are you kidding?  Did they suddenly have
        some mainstream hit that I’m not aware of?  They are exactly the type of
        band that needs more press and recognition.  They have continued for
        years making great music and even into their 40’s are better at it than
        almost anyone in town.

        I
        rarely make posts like this.  The only time I feel inclined is to
        criticize and almost without fail some clown like you comes along and
        makes accusations about having some personal agenda.  Is it not possible
        to express opinion without having an agenda?  I guess I do have an
        agenda.  I’d like to see to great bands get the recognition they
        deserve, whether it’s Dressy Bessy or some band down the street with a
        light crowd.

        Your
        post actually smacks of someone in a band that played to an empty room
        or someone involved with this publication.   I’m sure Dressy Bessy has
        played to many empty rooms, but I’m also sure that they didn’t give a
        shit and rocked it just the same.  10-15 years in and they are still bringing it, while in 15 years you’ll have quit the band and moved to the suburbs.

        • Another Guest

          Is having a well-attended show after being together for over a decade not suitable “recognition”? What’s the point of being in a band: making music for people to enjoy, or getting a write-up in the paper? People were at the show, and you said they played well. Get over yourself.

          • Guest

            You’re right and I am over it.  There I went on the attack again.  I was just excited about the show and expected to see coverage.  That is officially all I have to say and probably all I should have said in the first place. 

  • Another Guest

    “… indie-pop in the vein of Death Cab For Cutie as the blazing hot …”This may as well be a sentence describing a level of hell.