Well, it turns out we were right about lines at UMS 2013. Lines at 3 Kings Tavern, lines at Illegal Pete’s, lines at the Irish Rover, lines to see the Zebroids spray the mosh pit with a black and white striped beer bong, dressed as their namesake at the Hi-Dive at 1 a.m. In fact, this guy, John Paul Rojas, summed up Friday pretty nicely on Twitter: “The lines were really long and the venues were killer hot and super crowded. #hydrate #UMS2013.”
We couldn’t agree more, and even as early as 7 p.m. 3 Kings Tavern was almost at the point of lines to see Esmé Patterson. With nearly a full house, her voice, complete with its lovely imperfections, gave Friday a light start. Really it was hard to ask for a better early on set, she and her backing band mixed perfectly through the speakers to create a transportive set. The atmosphere was strangely mythical, given the low ceilings and sticky floors of the 3 Kings.
Then, it was on to the UMS Main Stage for the first time. Across the street, the Goodwill parking lot had once again been transformed over night into a small music city. Giant cones guarded the entrance, tents lined the barriers, and at the center of it all, the mighty stage. This is where surf rock band Bleached set up at 8 p.m. Bleached’s quick, playful sound is almost like punk for beginners. With sing-song vocals and beachy melodies, it could be a gateway into a grungier sound (or in this case a transition into the band that followed Bleached on the main stage). While Bleached sounded fine — though maybe better suited for a tighter venue — it’s most impressive quality was how comfortable band members were on stage. Sisters Jennifer and Jessie Clavin vocalized their sympathy for the people who live in the houses next door to the stage and apologized to the guy who was shut down trying to crowd surf.
After Bleached came a good chance to wander around the Main Stage area, where you can shoot Nerf guns at shooters, sit in Mini Coopers (without the keys, mind you) and browse poster art. By the time the sun had set, Mudhoney walked out to close down Friday’s Main Stage.
The most intriguing thing about Mudhoney’s set was how well the sound was mixed. It probably has something to do with the band’s 25 years of perfecting its levels at any stage, but where Bleached felt out of place at an outdoor stage, Mudhoney made the open air feel like a dingy dive bar. The grunge wrapped you in like beer soaked cement walls.
Having spent too much time in one place, restlessness had sunk in and it became that point of the night to do some show hopping. By about 11 p.m. the lines had started to reach the most extreme of the night. The new Illegal Pete’s, which is one of the bigger venues taking part in UMS, had a substantial line to see the Yawpers. Somehow, amid the cock-sure set, fueled with debauchery, the crowd stayed tame enough to not ruin the new Illegal Pete’s digs.
People filled the sidewalks in the blocks between Illegal Pete’s and 3 Kings Tavern. Groups walking in all directions searched for the next show or the shortest line or the public restrooms until the wandering couldn’t be distinguished between the line for 3 Kings Tavern. Inside, A. Tom Collins gave a late night, boozy blast of big band fun. If there’s one thing the band can do well, it’s never let a party die, which was a good takeaway for anyone forgetting that there are two days of UMS left.
Seth McConnell is a member of YourHub at The Denver Post and a regular contributor to Reverb.