Thursday, July 26, 2012

2012 UMS wrap-ups, pt. 2

Paul Custer's take on this year's UMS:

My favorite performances from this year's festival were (in no particular order):

           Accordion Crimes - This has got to be one of Denver's most overlooked bands, and my personal favorite. Highly recommended for fans of Slint, Jesus Lizard and all things Steve Albini (Big Black, Shellac, etc.). Their set at 3 Kings was the perfect blend of precision and looseness and the dynamic variations made the set consistently fresh. If you enjoy razor sharp guitar tones, heavy rhythms and smart lyrics, you have to check these guys out.
            Mark Mallman - This dude is the energizer bunny of piano driven rock. This year I decided to start comparing him to Jerry Lee Lewis AND Meatloaf, although neither of them truly sums up the Mallman. He's the kind of performer you see once and vow to never miss again. Sure, there's a shtick, but the songs are insanely catchy and clever. His set at the Skylark exemplified, like all of his sets, the epitome of the Rock and Roll spirit. He's from Minneapolis, but comes to Denver a couple of times a year - I DARE anyone to have a bad time watching him perform.
            Big Freedia - If you haven't at least heard of Big Freedia I'd be surprised as her "Shake Team" have been making waves at festivals and venues around the country for almost two years. Her set at the Goodwill Stage was no exception. I noticed some people walk away from her performance with perplexed looks on their faces, seemingly from the lack of traditional "musicianship." Sure, every song has the exact same beat, but it's a compelling one to dance to. The main draw of the performance is booties, on stage, practically naked and moving in ways that would make belly dancers take note. And at the helm is Big Freedia, the tireless cheerleader, the Queen Diva, spittin' out gems like "Gin in My System" and "Azz Everywhere." Another performance that needs to be seen to be fully understood.
            Il Cattivo - Hard to pin down stylistically, but all the better for it. At times I could hear Cursive in the vocals and Mastodon and Baroness in the instrumentation. Friends mentioned glam influences (which I didn't hear), Jesus Lizard (which I could sorta get), and Soundgarden (also, barely). Rather than be confusing, those disparities were what made them compelling.

David Castillo's take on this year's UMS:

The 12th annual UMS was my first of what I hope to be a many more. My UMS experience began with Steve Law at The Skylark. I was pleasantly surprised to hear Steve Law and female singer Toddy Walters accompanied by kick ass guitar player Kyle Zender playing a strong set of folk/country that was right up my alley of musical flavorings. Wymond Miles at the Hi-Dive was my next destination. Wymond played at Twist & Shout Records a mere month or so before this show and the band I heard at the Hi-Dive delivered a vastly improved, tight knit group of Cure-ish pop songs; not that they sucked at Twist, on the contrary they were louder and a little more reckless, but that being said it was rad to hear them playing so tight but still rocking. From there it was back to The Skylark for The Legendary River Drifters. It was nearly impossible to order a drink because the crowd was so rowdy and the energy was bouncing off the walls. Suzanne and the gang never fail to deliver and deliver they did. After that the night turned into a tequila haze of memories and stumbling into friends and co-workers up and down Broadway.
Day two kicked off with ManCub at The Main-Stage. Besides being a cool dude, Alex has great taste for showmanship and infectious beats. His cover of “You Dropped A Bomb On Me” was not only tasteful but a personal highlight of the whole UMS. I decided to continue the dance party at Compound Basix with Peter Black followed by Men In Burka. I swear the bartender put dancing powder in my drinks because I can’t dance. I don’t dance. But, I danced my ass off for two hours. After falling out of the Compound Basix I headed over to DeLite to catch 3two’s set, an action packed set of relentless hip hop. The crowd inside just moved and the crowd outside couldn’t help but stop and listen and try to get in on the action.
Saturday was a late start day for me even though I was at the Gildar Gallery by noon. It was 100 degrees and we had a lot of beer to get nice and cold. Good thing we bought all the ice the liquor store next door had because by 3pm – UMSers were thirsty and very much in need of a cold one. Sole at the Main Stage at 5pm was still a bit too hot for me to get into, but I tried as much as a dehydrated partied-out dude could. It was a solid set of classic spacey Sole beats and Sole ramblings in between songs. Joy Subtraction was a band I had noticed a couple days before when I was putting up their flyer for an upcoming album release show at the Hi-Dive on the 4th of August. I was a little negative about their name and the picture of a noose on their flyer, so I am happy to say that they completely changed my mind when I heard them at 3 Kings. Great pop. Great musicians. Great stage show. I wouldn’t be surprised to see myself at their show on August 4th and I’m looking forward to listening to their CD. The night wrapped up for me with Fiction Is Fun at Moe’s BBQ. They delivered a deliciously flavorful show. I’ve been listening to Fred Thulson and the gang for several years now and their song craft and chops have only gotten better and better. That goes for every member, even Jake Fairly who seems a little out of place with his thrash metal stage presence and even howls to go with it. But, as they themselves say it’s, “folk music for the thinking man.”
Sunday I woke up in Sheridan with a half drunk bottle of Kentucky Deluxe sleeping next to me. Unsure how I was going to get back to Denver I hopped on the light rail and luckily made it back to the car I hadn’t seen in 3 days without getting a ticket. Wearing the same stinky clothes I had worn for 3 days I was utterly defeated and satisfied. I had had enough. I bit off more than I can chew. So, I called it a day and went home to a much-needed shower and a bed for sleep.

And check out some snapshots of the event by Twist staffer Natja:

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