It’s always a good idea to do your homework before The Denver Post’s Underground Music Showcase. Sure, you can wander South Broadway, catching great bands at nearly every possible venue, gallery, bar, restaurant or storefront, but with more than 400 performances, you might want to approach July 24-27 with at least a broad outline of who to see.
Along with hundreds of local and national acts, the 14th annual UMS will bring big headliners Blonde Redhead, Real Estate and People Under the Stairs. To help you navigate the Rocky Mountain region’s largest indie music festival we’ve provided suggestions of 15 local acts and 15 national acts to catch this week.
Colorado’s answer to Bon Iver, Covenhoven’s folk music feels stripped down and truly handmade compared to what the popular indie-folk genre has become these days.
Playing: 7 p.m., July 25, South Broadway Christian Church
The electronic music stereotype would include macho whomps, predictable drops or four-to-the-floor beats. But there’s a whole subgenre dedicated to experimental electronic with artists like Dirty//Clean’s Lemon Future who focuses on complex layers of rhythms and jazz-like chord changes.
Playing: 6 p.m., July 25, Sputnik
In just over a year, Americana act Ark Life has gone from a brand-new project to preparing its debut album on Denver’s Greater Than Collective. Frontman Jesse Elliott channels The Band through a modern lens.
Playing: 11 p.m., July 26, Hi-Dive
If the wavy, psych-pop track “Highway Screamin’ ” is any indication of what’s to come from the new act Sunboy, it could follow in the footsteps of emerging bands, Tame Impala and Unknown Mortal Orchestra.
Playing: 5:30 p.m., July 27, Main Stage
Like a work of cubism, Confluence will deconstruct a song and put it back together with an analytical ear. The pieces are complex and delightfully math-rock.
Playing: 7 p.m., July 26, 3 Kings Tavern
Going over the top isn’t just acceptable, it’s encouraged in hip-hop. Enter BMMZK, Colorado’s most promising party-rap act since 3OH!3.
Playing: 2 p.m., July 27, Punch Bowl Social
New Denver band Homebody brews experimental rock with a casual wisdom. The pieces are intricate, but on a macro level, the music comes across as approachable and unadorned. It’s the best type of musical oxymoron.
Playing: 10 p.m., July 24, Hi-Dive
Plume Varia gracefully balances the Stevie Nicks-inspired vocals of Cherie Cobbs with the patient and dramatic production of her husband Shon.
Playing: 6 p.m., July 26, Irish Rover
Prismwaves’ projector heavy set at UMS 2013 caught quite a few eyes and ears. The act returns this year for another show of longing, drifting vocals over ambient production.
Playing: 5 p.m., July 27, Hi-Dive
Roo & the Howl
Roo & the Howl is a little bit country, a little bit indie-rock, but not completely either one. On her excellent 2014 debut, “Me/We,” Roo’s Bekah Wagner crafts a hybrid of the two genres for western millennials.
Playing: 10 p.m., July 25, Irish Rover
South of France
South of France knows how to take a pop hook and run it through an Instagram-esque filter to make bubbly and catchy dream-pop. The music is confident, sunny and filled with a healthy dose of reverb.
Playing: 3:30 p.m., July 26, Main Stage and 1 p.m., July 27, Hi-Dive
Somerset Catalog is living up to the high expectations that come with its local indie-rock pedigree. So far the local supergroup has delivered an excellent debut EP this year and has been proving itself with passionate live shows.
Playing: 9 p.m., July 24, Irish Rover
The Other Black
Oh what a sight to behold: Taking cues from Sly and the Family Stone, Denver’s man of many bands Wesley Watkins fronts a small army of a dozen musicians on stage for a soul/R&B-tinged spectacle.
Playing: 9 p.m., July 25, Illegal Pete’s
Post punk is alive and well in Denver. Male Blonding, with inspiration from Interpol and at times Talking Heads, the Smiths and Joy Division, brings jangling guitar lines and vocal croons.
Playing: 11 p.m., July 24, Brendan’s
Kitty Crimes’ unwavering confidence gives her the live presence of a superstar. At her UMS performance in 2013, she packed the venue and had the crowd circled 360 degrees around her.
Playing: 8 p.m., July 27, Hi-Dive