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The UMS Celebrates Colorado’s Young Creative Culture

By David Goe

Flashbulb Fires, who recently played the KAFM Radio Room, is one of many bands to watch for at the Underground Music Showcase.

The Underground Music Showcase is a couple weeks out but it's not too early to gear up for Colorado's biggest music event.

This year marks the 14th, and certainly biggest, year for the UMS and it is something that should be on your radar. Featuring more than 400 local, national and international artists, the UMS is a four-day celebration of this region’s thriving local music scene.

Located in the South Broadway district of Denver, the UMS is the most diverse music event of the year. Don’t make the mistake of writing this event off as hipster noise with limited mass appeal. The UMS is among the very best Colorado music events and I’d argue, the most important. This hyper regional event embodies Colorado’s young creative culture and puts it on full display for the state and nation to appreciate and enjoy.

“Like that old friend you only see once a year, The UMS will wreck your house, get you drunk and ultimately save your life in one sweaty blur, leaving you reeling and exhausted and a few days away from wishing it would come back again already.”

That’s the sales pitch on the UMS website and anyone who’s experienced the festival first-hand would agree completely with that assessment. Those unfamiliar with the event though may still be wondering, why bother with this downtown Denver bar-crawl?

Though the UMS has grown to include nationally and internationally touring acts, this is primarily a local event. It’s a showcase of the best Colorado has to offer and you can guarantee that one of these 400 bands will become insanely popular.

Can you imagine catching a live set from someone like the Lumineers in a small venue like the Hi-Dive before they struck it big? The UMS makes that opportunity possible.

Including the Lumineers, the UMS has produced a number of national success stories in recent years. UMS alums include DeVotchKa, Isaac Slade of The Fray, Flobots and Nathaniel Rateliff. Your chances of seeing a band right on the cusp of national stardom is quite good, and you’ll also get to see them in a crowd of less than 300 fans. At the UMS, you can get as close to the music as you want and probably talk to and share a beer with the band after their set.

This year that next great band could be In The Whale or A. Tom Collins, both of who play prime slots this year. Its impossible to predict who’s going to be a hit, but the point is that someone playing this festival will go on to great things.

If you’re not concerned with finding the next big thing and want to just hear some inventive new music then the UMS is the place for you. This year's festival lineup features a number of great Colorado bands including many that have recently played shows here in Grand Junction. The Knew, Flashbulb Fires, The Photo Atlas, Rose Quartz, The Blind Pets, Reno Divorce, and Rossonian have all recently played a GJ stage and all feature prominently in the 2014 UMS lineup.

Those who geek out on music and love to be the first to discovery will find great success here. With youth and talent in abundance there’s no better event to get lost in than the UMS.

The UMS itself is growing far quicker than I think anyone has imagined. The music magazine Paste has even jumped on board this year, naming the festival one of the top smaller music festivals in the nation. As this event continues to blossom right in front of our eyes, the whole state, even Grand Junction benefits.

As Denver’s music scene grows, we grow by proximity. We will continue to host these bands as they venture out on tours, new levels of creativity can inspire are own music ambitions, and eventually our homegrown bands can leave a mark on this expanding event.


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