Thursday, July 31, 2014

2014 UMS Wrap-ups

Whew! Another one passes. The UMS continues to grow - and suffer growing pains along the way - but it remains Denver's finest, most diverse and most interesting music festival. I've talked with a number of people who attended in the week since the festival kicked off and to a person, we've had a hard time pointing to our specific highlights of the festival - not because of a lack of talent or good music though. My suspicion is that this is because it's not about going to see "that one big band" headlining as it is at so many other festivals. You can go see those headline acts at Fillmore, Ogden, Gothic, Bluebird, 1st Bank - whatever space they're big enough to fill (and most of these headliners are Bluebird-Gothic sized acts). It's about rolling around Broadway for 4 days and being immersed in a sea of music, like-minded music fans, and perhaps a drink or two (or three, depending on whether or not you hit up Trve Brewery). It's about catching that backyard party, that sweaty one-of-a-kind moment in the club, that late-night after party, that main stage act who's not coming back for a couple years or it's their first time in the city. It's about Residual Kid's leader on his back on the floor in the middle of the crowd at 3 Kings with his guitar feeding back as they close their set; it's about Itchy-O's set (that I missed!) for the competing Mile High Parley Festival; it's about all the bands you heard about but missed and will have to catch next year; it's about People Under the Stairs being so good on the main stage that I had to opt to miss 3 other bands playing the same time; it's about being sad that I cut out of Genders' great set at the Hi-Dive but then being happy that I walked into to Somerset Catalog playing a National song in heartfelt tribute to couple dear friends moving away (good luck Mary and Robert!). And so on. There's no way to quantify it or definitively explain it - you just have to go down a few nights and experience it. When I lived near 3rd and Broadway, I used to hate the festival. This was the weekend all "my" bars got taken over, that no bike parking was available ANYWHERE nearby except in my house, that the usual Broadway drunken weekend revelry got extended an extra two days and two hours on all days. But once I went it was all different and all that was dispelled. Trust me on this - whatever the politics happening, whatever your take on the validity of "underground" in the name, this festival is something special we have here in Denver and its success is what's created the space for it to spill over into a respectable competing festival occurring simultaneously on the same stretch of Broadway and a batch of unofficial side events in local backyards. Comparing it to South By Southwest is off base - this is far less whored out to major labels pimping their already-established big acts, far more focused on local music and the incredible diversity of Colorado's music scene. With respect to my pals in Austin, this is better than SXSW, even if I'm not gonna see Springsteen jamming here any time soon. Here are some pics of what I saw and dug.
- Patrick Brown
Somerset Catalog @ Irish Rover

The Blue Rider @ 3 Kings

Residual Kid @ 3 Kings

People Under the Stairs on the Main Stage

Impromptu side event

Another side event

Total Ghost @ The Safari Room

Miss America at one of the many unofficial back yard parties

Blonde Redhead on the main stage

No comments: