Denver’s Underground Music Showcase becoming a destination spot

Sadie Dupuis, left, and Darl Ferm of Speedy Ortiz perform during the 2014 UMS Underground Music Showcase. (Jeremy Papasso / Daily Camera)
Sadie Dupuis, left, and Darl Ferm of Speedy Ortiz perform during the 2013 UMS Underground Music Showcase. (Jeremy Papasso / Daily Camera)
By Quentin Young

“We’re trying to create a destination event here,” said Kendall Smith, director of The Denver Post Underground Music Showcase.

Actually, he has been saying that for a while, and this year the annual festival — scheduled for July 24-July 27 at venues on South Broadway in Denver — is really living up to Smith’s aspirations.

Last month in a piece about the best “smaller-scale but still awesome” summer music festivals, Paste magazine gave a nod to the UMS by writing “this fest brings some of the premier independent acts to the Mile High City.” (Ride Fest, which took place in Telluride last month, also made the list.)

The Colorado Tourism Office said the festival is “the perfect place to witness Colorado and Denver’s exploding music scene” when it called the UMS one of “12 quintessential Colorado summer festivals.”

And how’s this for destination status — the influential New York music blog BrooklynVegan suggested the UMS as “an excuse for a vacation to Colorado.”

One reason fans believe the festival is worth traveling for is that national acts think it’s worth traveling for.

Main stage performers include Real Estate, People Under the Stairs and Blonde Redhead. Attracting such popular national acts to the UMS is part of the festival’s mission, and organizers foresee music-industry professionals taking an interest in it, too.

“We want bands to play here and see what we have,” Smith said, adding that once they do the acts might be persuaded to add Denver to future tour stops or even relocate to the city.

But the festival’s core mission is to showcase the local scene and the lineup reads like a who’s-who of Front Range indie bands: In the Whale, The Knew, The Yawpers, Eldren, South of France, Snake Rattle Rattle Snake, Indigenous Robot, The Epilogues, My Body Sings Electric, Inner Oceans, Ark Life, The Photo Atlas, Wire Faces, I Sank Molly Brown, and Post Paradise, among others.

“The music scene here is pretty vast,” Smith said.

In all, the lineup includes about 360 acts that will perform at one of almost 20 South Broadway venues.

The main stage has a new location. Last year, it was located in the Goodwill parking lot on Broadway at West Archer Place, but this year it will be just south of that spot, at the Security Service Federal Credit Union.

“The parking lot is a few shades lighter gray,” Smith said, “so it should be a little cooler.”

The new area also has some grass and trees, which organizers hope will help keep festival-goers cool.

Proceeds from the UMS, a nonprofit, charitable event, benefit The Denver Post Community Foundation. Beneficiaries this year are Youth On Record, (formerly and MusiCares.

If you go

What: Underground Music Showcase

When: July 24-27

Where: Various venues on South Broadway

Tickets: Four-day pass is $50 until July 23 or limited number sell out, or $75; single-day passes, $35, available only day of event


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