Friday, July 29, 2011

Adam & Natasha's 2011 UMS Wrap-ups

Despite my plans to see a whole mess of bands at this year's UMS, I only managed to make it down Saturday night and didn't get to check out anyone I hadn't heard before (boo).  However, what I did see just reinforced my belief that Snake Rattle Rattle Snake and Bad Weather California are not just two of the best bands in Denver but two of the best bands around, period.  SRRS played an hour long set to about 1,000 folks on the main outdoor stage.  The crowd consisted of both fans who sang along with their favorite songs and newcomers who were quickly won over.  Frontwoman Hayley Helmericks belted out strong vocals while the rest of the band backed her up with heavy dance-rock grooves.  If you've been meaning to check them out, be sure to stop by for their free performance right here at Twist and Shout on August 16.
After Snake Rattle, I headed around the corner to the Hi-Dive for Bad Weather California's 10PM set.  I've seen BWC play several times in the past few months, including an in-store at Twist as well as opening up for the Meat Puppets, with whom they just completed a West Coast tour.  I swear, they get better every time.  Led by the energetic singer/guitarist Chris Adolf, BWC plays catchy rock tunes with a rootsy flavor, like a cross between the Flying Burrito Bros. and the Minutemen.  A Bad Weather California show is always a good time and they are worth catching whenever they play.  Earlier in the day, BWC pedal steel guitarist Adam Baumeister played a solo set as his one man band Littles Paia.  This set of John Fahey-inspired psychedelia was yet another UMS highlight.
Also worth mentioning is the DJ set by Patrick Brown at Sputnik.  Patrick spun an eclectic mix of worldly funk that put a smile on the face of even the most jaded hipster and I'm not just saying that because he's my boss.
 I was at the UMS Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  Normally for music festivals I try to approach them with a manic pace where I MUST see everything I can, but this year I had a casual approach.  Thursday I met up with a group of old friends and just tagged along to see what they were gravitating towards.  It was a good way to stop myself from going to see bands I was already familiar with.  Friday was the night to really tie one on so I started drinking booze a bit early which threw off my game.  I had one of those nights where I kept hitting the end of sets, and I only had my own drunk self to blame.  Saturday I was really able to get into the groove and I hit up as many bands and full sets as I could see.  Sunday might have been my favorite day because I was with a great group of people with similar music tastes to mine and we hit up some great performances all day and night.
I can rave all day long about how I love the Denver music scene, but this event brought it into the light.  There are bands I have seen many times who always put on a great show like Porlolo, Ian Cooke, Jen Korte, John Common, Snake Rattle Rattle Snake, or Fairchildren and they all killed it. Then there were the bands I had never seen live and they converted me into a new fan, like Mancub, the Don’ts and the Be Carefuls, Fierce Bad Rabbit, Tim Hussman, Churchill, Birdy, Candy Claws and much more.  I saw some favorite national acts like Sage Francis and discovered new faves like Colourmusic.  I felt proud of Denver and extremely grateful to the people I know who worked so hard.  I would like to thank Kendall Smith, Ben Desoto, Lisa Gedgaudas, Colin Bricker and all of the amazing folks that put the UMS together.  The only bad point about it was that it had to end.  I am already looking forward to next year! 

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