Going Gonzo at UMS 2020

Published on: August 7th, 2019

The Underground Music Showcase is one of our favorite annual events. One of the oldest in Colorado, it’s also one of the biggest. Over 200 bands performed across three massive outdoor stages and 16 indoor venues, bringing the underground music you never knew you needed to the fore. It’s not just about big name stars at Pepsi Center or the Fillmore. Denver has so much great music, so much undiscovered, we show up every year because we find new music to download, new bands to fall in love with, new moments to remind us why Denver is exactly the place to be. 

 

We went and got wasted, danced, drank, and ran the streets with our city’s lovely music lovers. This is one of our stories. 

 

Friday

 

As I walked into Underground Music ShowcaseI was pleasantly surprised. I went in tired and worn out from all of the music I had been seeing… but the atmosphere got me excited for another round of tunes. The vibes were high and people were excited for the weekend. The south side of Denver turned into a music festival, filled with elaborate outfits, beer, smiles, and a deserved break from the world. 

 

While watching the music unfold, I decided to talk to a beautiful security guard named Mia. She is a nomad who lived in her small school bus. She had been traveling for over a year across the United States. For some reason, I just wanted to hang around her. Her company and conversation were captivating and inspiring at the same time. 

 

UMS did an excellent thing by opening up with a few female fronted bands. Wildermiss – a band we first heard at UMS 2018 (we think) while hanging at Skylark Lounge – rocked the main stage to open the festival. With what appeared to be only staff and media on site, their set ended with a filled up stage area, a terrific draw to open the festivities. Mama Magnolia opened up at Odyssey at the same set time, with Brianna Strout right after at hi-Dive. 

 

Black Mountain stole the show at the main stage at Goodwill for day 1. Their combination of psychedelic rock and heavy metal riffs took you on a journey. Their music had a flow that took you on a ride that I would definitely want to experience again.

 

I spent the rest of the night at the Hi-Dive listening to country music that has lost its popularity due to pop culture. Larry Nix and The Killer Gents brought a rowdy mix of Elvis, Johnny Cash, and old-school country. The backdrop of the Hi-Dive fit the music and the crowd was as friendly, welcoming, and ready to get down. 

 

The highlight of the Hi-Dive was Laura Lu who I met during the festival due to her colorful and amazing outfit. She gave me a small amount of psychedelic mushrooms and was a lovely distraction from the heaviness of life. Sometimes an angel makes an entrance into your life as a beautiful goddess. 


We ended the night losing our minds to Izcalli, who are one of the best bands in Denver, in our humble opinion. Their fast paced, high energy, infectious sounds will grab you by the tail feathers and shake you, reminding you that the night’s not over till it’s over.

 

Saturday

 

The day started off slow. The heat annoyed me along with the lack of good music until Chicano Batman went on. The psychedelic rock allowed me to dance and groove. Then, my circus performing friends showed up. I asked my two friends if they wanted LSD. They said they did so we decided to take drugs in the library section of Goodwill. 

 

The night took a weird turn from there. We ended up at a dance party called Weird Touch at the Syntax Psychic Opera on South Broadway. It had both a club and lounge vibe, which I thoroughly enjoyed. The house music brought you back to a time where electronic music was brought to you on vinyl. I will definitely be back again.

 

Other members of our team were less on drugs and more on music. Rich Jones and Divino Nino made Odyssey Stage the place to be for our Saturday, but it wasn’t all lounging in the dome. We definitely cut over to check out And The Black Feathers, one of our favorite bands right now. We spent a while in Three Kings Tavern as well, enjoying 303’s password entry and humidity heavy Green Room. We bumped into Mile High Soul Club in there, and ended up watching some police stops while eating donuts outside of voodoo. 

Sunday

 

I woke up tired from the LSD and Molly the night before. Drugs do that. I had an interview at 2 p.m. but rescheduled to 3:30 p.m. so I could recover from the night before, thankful the artist was chill about it. The interview was with Tessa Violet, a pop musician from Oregon.

 

We did the whole interview routine, but the best part was talking about serendipity and life. It is always interesting that when we take our masks off  we are just people having human experiences. We talked about how our lives unfolded more by accident than by choice. 

 

Tessa started playing music because her ex-boyfriend left his guitar in her car. Her tour manager got his job due to renting the right room. I got this writing gig by meeting the right editor at Sonic Bloom. It seems life just works out when you let go of control. 

 

I love how life lessons hit you at unsuspecting times. 

 

Her set was a blast. I was ready for some catchy pop tunes, but she dives deep and brings hella energy and power to her performances. We had just gotten on some double fisting action after stopping by the Fernet booth, so we were feeling good. She had the most danceable set of the day, as far as we experienced. You can catch Tessa at Red Rocks supporting AJR on October 5th. Her new album, “Bad Ideas,” will drop in the Fall.

 

Some of the best afternoon sets were Milk Blossoms and The Corner Girls. The Milk Blossoms every beat breathes life into the room their in. They fill up the audience with beauty and passion and amazing beatboxing and singing. The Corner Girls have to be the most adorable punk rock girls in the world. Lead singer and guitarist Breanna Ahlgren has the best bedside manner…or, stage side manner. She’s hilarious and brutal and self deprecating in her transitions. She also kills the vocals. We may be slightly in love with bassist and mean head nodding backup badass,  Jessica Pulido, who lays it down as hard as anyone in the area while being incredibly stylish and tough. 

 

Lily Fangz was the best music artist I saw on Sunday. Her mix of activism, humor, and brilliant vocals make her a must-see. Do not miss her set if she is on the lineup. 

 

I went home early on Sunday due to exhaustion, while other members of our team stuck around. They caught up with friends to end the night at Three Kings Tavern, which was the best possible place to be on Sunday night. Los Mocochetes made us feel alive, made us remember that the world of music is as much about what you say as how you say it. We hadn’t danced as hard as we did to this set. If you missed it, you missed out hard.

 

Following Los Mocochetes, Ramakhandra and The Guestlist, each in succession, wound the crowd up and down, moving us through exactly the emotions and dance moves we needed to finish up our 2019 Underground Music Showcase. Absolute perfection. 

 

We loved our experiences, the music, the life given at UMS. We’re equally excited that Two Parts has taken over as the new owners. Those kids know how to throw a party, which makes us excited for the future of UMS. See you in 2020.

 

Daniel and the YS crew

 

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