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Underground Music Showcase

July 28, 2016

Denver, CO


Downtown Denver, CO When the dog days of summer are hounding you down, you might as well beat the heat with friends, cold brews, and some of the buzziest indie and local bands on the scene today. And there is no better way to do just that than the four-day Underground Music Showcase, which took over the South Broadway strip of dive bars, coffee shops, and thrift stores in Denver to close out the month of July.

Now, before the impression forms in your mind that these are “indie” in quotations bands, with big college radio or online followings, I attest that I had not heard of any but two groups out of the many dozens who filled the bill for half a week. Many of the performances were eclectic and ran the gamut from the spirited to the stultifying.

The Yawpers brought their rambunctious, deep-fried cowpunk with a generous helping of Violent Femmes-style twangy punch to an afternoon crowd. Twee indie popsters Sunflower Bean stood out thanks to guitarist and vocalist Julia Cumming, who resembled Miley Cyrus if Billy Ray’s wayward daughter dropped her current schtick and went through an Annie Lennox phase. Ensemble act San Fermin stripped the gypsy punk sound from Gogol Bordello but kept the horn section and bajillion onstage band members. A few too many cooks in the kitchen for my taste, but they appeal to a certain audience and judging by the response from the kids bopping around in the crowd, ably delivered. The Velveteers resurrected shimmering 70s glam in all its nearly-forgotten glory inside the Hi-Dive bar. A description of Sunday night closers Poliça is probably unnecessary, as the accented C should indicate to readers the degree to which art-school dropout pretentiousness permeated every pore of their act. Dual drummers, lush, synthy beats, aloof, doe-eyed singer, the majority of lyrics seemingly revolving around melancholic longing… Poliça perfectly captures the cooler-than-thou-or-whatever Millennial zeitgeist. The throngs of admirers clustered in front of the stage, even as sprinklers unexpectedly sprayed them down as stagehands scrambled to slap used plastic cups over the nozzles, could not get enough of the laconic dream pop.

The Underground Music Showcase, presented by the Denver Post newspaper with the inferred intention that it become the Mile High City’s answer to Austin’s South By Southwest event, brought out a fair amount of Denver’s indie music contingent from the mountains down to the city, at least for one weekend. Though not anywhere near the cultural juggernaut of SXSW, UMS stakes its place as a fun respite from the UV rays and beachless Colorado landscape.


Article By: Steve Lustig

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