August 3, 2016

48 different acts in 36 hours. That’s a lot of UMS.

Cory Phare

48 different acts in 36 hours. That’s a lot of UMS.

The 2016 chapter of the Underground Music Showcase may be history, but the sonic residue (among other detritus) is still ringing in the ears down South Broadway between 5th and Alameda.

Celebrating its 16th anniversary, the UMS has grown into the largest music festival in the Rocky Mountain Region. As signature event of the Denver Post Community, the UMS celebrates the eclectic and phenomenally innovative music scene of the region we’re lucky enough to call home.

From punk to funk to electronic, hip hop, and every subgenre you can Cusack, UMS 2016 truly did have it all. And what better way to cool off the sweltering heat than by sinking your favorite singer in the Youth on Record dunk tank?

The sheer scale of the UMS was monolithic: 400 performers in 20 different locations. It’s physically impossible to see everyone, everywhere.

That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try, though.

For brevity’s sake, you’ll find three-word (more or less) synopses/impressions/takeaways below for each of the 48 acts I saw at the 2016 UMS. This included everything from brief snippets to full sets, with the average being around one to two songs--so really, it’s more of a pulse-check than comprehensive analysis. And as with most things you read on the internet, it’s helpful to take with several hefty grains of salt.

Personal favorite performances (in no specific order) were Eros and the Eschaton, Poliça, Andy Hamilton & the Rocky Mountain Contraband, QBala, Atlas, Bark Wilson, and Bright Light Social Hour. Though each performer isn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea/tallboy, I can’t express enough gratitude to each individual who got onto a stage. Please keep doing that.

A huge thank you to the UMS/Denver Post Community, Youth On Record, Schomp Mini, and every sponsor, volunteer, and neighbor who made this possible--you’re the best!


Mile High Soul Club @ Main Stage: Boogie woogie kickoff

Plum @ Main Stage: Fuzzy psychedelic harmonies

Emerald Siam @ Skylark: Kill Bill (vol. 2) metal

Codename Carter @ Irish Rover: Spy-rock in an IROC

Colfax Speed Queen @ Hi-Dive: Wow, that line!

Dressy Bessy @ Irish Rover: Mod dance party

The Cabin Project @ Hornet: Melodically textured arrangements


Slow Caves @ Irish Rover: New wave jams

Open to the Hound @ Blue Ice: Modern rock radio

theMOVED @ Hornet: Fleetsteel Woodmac-y Dan

Atlas @ Irish Rover: Arpeggiated post-rock dreamscapes

Residual Kids @ Main Stage: Save rock, please!

Poison Rites @ Hi-Dive: Angry speed punk

Automatic Iris @ Hornet: 2-car garage pop

Jeffrey Dallet @ Baere: Sweaty dude folk

Church Fire @ Irish Rover: Xmas lights + Sleigh Bells

Bark Wilson @ Illegal Pete’s: Fedora beach party!

The Born Readies @ Skylark: Molly Hatchet + Poison

Bright Light Social Hour @ Main Stage: A.M. Gold Skynard

Eros and the Eschaton @ 3 Kings: Sonic Yo-uth La Tengo

Luke Schmaltz @ Think Tank Tattoo: Rodentia royalty, raw

Thee Oh Sees @ Main Stage: Garage bandsaw growl

Wez @ Irish Rover: One-man disco

Venus Cruz & What Young Men Do @ Hornet: Silky smooth soulectronica

Covenhoven @ South Broadway Christian Church: OpenAir orchestral omnipotence


DeCollage @ Main Stage: Spooky cello afternoon

LodosMusic @ Hornet: Belted it out

Left Hand Shakes @ Punch Bowl: Dapper Maroon voicings

Bahnseye @ Hornet: Is that...vibraphone?

Qbala @ Blue Ice: Ginsu-precision flow

Beautiful Machines @ Skylark: Synth rock enormity

Adia Victoria @ Main Stage: Gravelly, bluesy Portishead

Shady Elders @ 3 Kings: Dark Blondie-esque pop

Marshall Poole @ Irish Rover: Blended vocal grunge

Set Sail @ Hi Dive: Falsettos and feel-goods

Yawpers @ Main Stage: Bluesy, boozy, fuzzy

Sunflower Bean @ Main Stage: ‘70s-inspired jams

San Fermin @ Main Stage: Genre-blending arrangements

Poliça @ Main Stage: Haunting, tribal Sugarcubes

HR People @ Gary Lee’s: Rough-edged indie

Andy Hamilton & the Rocky Mountain Contraband @ Skylark: Waylon blues; Haggard livin’

The Raven & the Writing Desk @ 3 Kings: Textured, psychedelic L7

Ancient Elk @ Irish Rover: Jammy, noodly smorgasboard

BANDITS @ Hi Dive: Fuzzy sound sandwich

*Not Music

Gildar Gallery: Inside Stay-Puft’s stomach

First pop-up Dixieland band: Play my funeral, please!

Second pop-up Dixieland band: This already happened

Bloody Guy on the Street: Don’t do drugs

About Cory Phare

Formerly a touring punk rock musician, Denver-based writer Cory Phare now covers design, creativity, and education. Find more of his work here or at