UMS 2013: Photos and review of Thursday nightBy Matt Miller | July 19th, 2013 | No Comments »
Maybe it was an ironic omen for what’s to come that when UMS 2013 officially began at 8 p.m. on Thursday, only a few people slowly trickled into the Hi-Dive. The reason being was the line stretching down the block at will call, where valiant UMS staff worked to dole out wristbands and badges. Within an hour or so, festival goers bounced from venue to venue, filling South Broadway more than usual on a work night. It would be safe to expect lines this weekend at a festival that can draw so many so early.
And as UMSers, passes in hand (or around wrist, for that matter), finally made it into the Hi-Dive, the Wales (no “H” as they’re careful to point out), adapted to the growing audience. Timid at first, the band soon grew into their comforting chord changes and indie-pop sound. The band could have had more fun, but with the slow to arrive crowd, and the gathered audience that hadn’t been warmed up, the Wales had a tough set time.
Partly because of the novelty, partly because of curiosity, it seemed important to catch the teenage band Residual Kid at 3 Kings Tavern. It was all “awwws” from the crowd as the trio tuned — not even taller than the audience while standing on stage. The house emcee introduced the Austin, Tex., rock band — ages 15, 14 and 13 — cursing through his speech, and the audience, still smitten with the little musicians, cringed at his language in front of the children. But from the first moment of speed-thrash, all doe-eyes and “awws” vanished from 3 Kings. Soon, a mosh pit of 20 somethings broke out, causing one of the Residual Kids to yell, “Let’s get these dudes drunk.”
Having seen a bunch of teenagers work people twice their age into a beer-tossing frenzy, it was onto Blue Ice, where hip-hop would become the theme of the night. Kitty Crimes, had her own bit of novelty preceding her — a female rapper who mixes a spectrum of genres, never taking herself too seriously. And it’s clearly not the novelty of genre-hopping that draws fans. As a horseshoe of people filled more than half of Blue Ice — including those hanging off the small balcony — Kitty Crimes jumped around on anything that was in front of her. The downside was an all too short set that left most people talking about how they missed Kitty Crimes for the rest of the night.
With that it was a brief interlude from hip-hop to catch a moment of Varlet’s set at the Hi-Dive — mellow alt-country complete with Lilly Scott’s engaging, professional vocals. But one of the highlights came from StaG at Gozo. The venue is the newly renovated Delite spot, where the garage door separating the venue and the sidewalk provides some of the most unique concert experiences at The UMS. Fans filled the inside of Gozo and the sidewalk outside as StaG performed an ambitious, mood-bending set of atmospheric indie rock. Jumping on the divider between the venue and the sidewalk, the band built into chaotic peaks, turning jangling guitars into quick buzzing.
Back to Blue Ice at 11 p.m. to continue with the hip-hop theme of the night, BLKHRTS gave an aggressive set, literally getting in the face of fans, who soaked in the shock-rap. Backed by live drums, bass and guitar, BLKHRTS makes for a unique experience in terms of live hip-hop, but unfortunately at Blue Ice on Thursday, it was tough to hear much of anything over the drums.
At midnight, the lights dropped in Blue Ice for the first time at the request of the man who had been a buzz word throughout Thursday — Fat Tony (not the mob boss Simpsons character). The Texas rapper has been getting positive reviews from Rolling Stone and other critics for his most recent album, “Smart Ass Black Boy.” Though his DJ’s beats were a little lost in the mix, his extended set closing down Blue Ice showcased his flows that stayed in the pocket as he constantly varied his rhythmic variety.
Seth McConnell is a member of YourHub at The Denver Post and a regular contributor to Reverb.