This weekend was the granddaddy of all Denver Festivals. I'm talking about the Denver Post Underground Music Showcase, or UMS for short. The festival itself was 4 days long, but I only made it to the last three days. While the entire weekend was incredible to say the least, here are some of the best memories I took away from the weekend.
I kicked off the weekend with a set by Speakeasy Tiger. I had seen them last year before they had to audition a new lead singer. I have to say, while the old singer was awesome...the new singer was awesome. They had the crowd dancing around, and even gave away CDs to people. This band is on the verge of getting big and I wish nothing but success for them.
Next up was the overhyped Danielle Ate The Sandwich. I have one word to describe her. Boring.
We ended up spending some time at the Irish Rover where they had phenomenal band after phenomenal band. Seriously, that was the place to be on Friday. I actually walked away with a band that I think everyone needs to see. Hoots and Hellmouth. They are an Americana band that mixes country, soul, and even a bit of gospel. These guys were so much fun I had to buy their CD, and the guys in the band that I talked to were super cool. They are currently doing a national tour so check them out.
Another great band I had the chance to see was the Polkanauts. Talk about a lot of fun. This year they made Slayer into Polka, and brought out an 8 foot mascot called Death. I couldn't believe how packed that place was and how many people were dancing. Last year there was only myself and maybe one other person dancing and this year I would say around 20 people were dancing.
The Blackouts played a set at UMS on Sunday night and pretty much tore the roof off of the place. They sang original songs and a rocking cover of Bad Reputation. I'm thinking that song is the only cover song that lead singers of female punk bands want to do. Joan Jett would be proud. After hearing the Dollyrots screw it up on Thursday, it was good to hear the Blackouts do the original song justice. If you missed them, they have a show coming up at 3 Kings very soon. Go see them.
Another great set was by the one and only Magic Cyclops. I've seen him in the past do a DJ set, but never actually perform. He was spot on with his mocking of everyone. He called a homeless guy Dad, stopped the show while a group of people with no wristbands walked by shouting, we aren't giving this away for free. That's $20. At one point he even yelled at someone for parking somewhere that they weren't supposed to park. The entire audience laughed for the whole thing. He is a one of a kind act. Check him out when you can.
The New Ben Franklins played a set early on Sunday. After the terrible sound from the previous band, it was good to see the sound guy redeemed himself a set later. NBF were at their best I think and played a similar set that they played a week ago at Larimer Lounge. These are another great group of guys that I focused earlier in the week. They did not disappoint anyone once again.
Also on the bill was King for a Day. While they sounded good, the sound was all fucked up at the venue they got screwed into playing. Rock The Cradle was not made for sound at all and it was evident for the whole set. Simon could not hear himself in the monitors, the sound bled into the walls and the vocals weren't clear. The only thing that actually sounded decent was Johns drumming. I love these guys to death, but this was honestly their worst performance I've ever seen and the venue is all to blame. I feel bad for any band that had to play there.
Finally, the Mighty 18 Wheeler was also there this weekend. There was a reason they were listed as one of the 5 bands you must see. They were loud, there were wardrobe changes, and Goose even crawled up on the bar and played on the bar for a bit. The energy in that place was pretty awesome, and I did not see a single bored person in the crowd. Whether you are a fan of the music or not, stage presence goes a long way for entertainment and these guys have it. Next time they play, do yourself a favor and check these guys out, but before you go you should call your plastic surgeon. Your face just might melt off.
All in all, the UMS had something for everyone. This year included wrestling, burlesque, a polka band, some folk music, country, rock,comedy, and even bands that kind of had a jam band feel. While some places were made for music, there were some places that the sound was so terrible the bands may have not even played there at all. Rock The Cradle was one of those venues. There were even times at Irish Rover, and Skylark that I was thinking that the mics needed to be turned up, or the guitars be turned down just a bit.
On a couple of non music items at the festival, I do have to give a shout out to Biker Jim who had the best hot dogs in the world. It's not your regular hot dog, they featured Reindeer, Buffalo, Elk, and Wild Boar. Every last dog I had (and I think between Candie and I we had them all) was delicious. Also, the drink prices over by the Goodwill stage were super cheap. $2.50 to $4 for a beer and $3.50 for a vodka Redbull. Prices that cheap at a festival are unheard of. My hats off to the promoters and the sponsors ensuring everyone had a great time. I can't wait to do this again next year.