#UMS2018 in Review

#UMS2018 in Review

August 1, 2018 Off By Denver Thread

At Eighteen, the UMS Enters Adulthood

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Not quite two decades ago, a little gathering was launched to promote and celebrate a feature on local music in the Denver Post. The show featured maybe three of four of the “Top Ten Underground Bands in Denver,” as compiled out of results of a survey submitted to, and voted upon by, local musicians, promoters, venues, and media by John Moore – then the Post’s music writer.

If my memory is dependable (and I’m not too sure it is) the first show attached to the survey was actually a 16 Horsepower show – at that time far and away the local scene’s most beloved band – in Boulder in 2001, where Moore asked the Fox if he could add a couple of locals from the survey as openers to the lineup. The next three or four were split up between The Bluebird on Colfax and The Gothic on South Broadway in Denver, and featured winners of the surveys – including DeVotchka, Planes Mistaken for Stars, Dressy Bessy, Matson Jones, and others. These were the very first, infantile and pre-toddler versions of the Underground Music Festival (better known now as the UMS).

Back then I was volunteering behind the merch table, or just spreading the word about the bands playing, or bringing my pre-teen kids to watch them play – along with some of their friends. I was both excited and honored to be asked to contribute to the survey, and to help out with the shows, and I stayed with the UMS as it exploded – with then-Post reporter Ricardo Baca‘s help – into an increasingly giant festival in the Baker Neighborhood on South Broadway. And this year, that festival seemed to explode out of an appropriately chaotic adolescence and puberty into the beginning of a full-blown adulthood. Still in the Baker Neighborhood, still in the summer, but now it’s cleaned up, dressed well, and professional. For the most part.

But early adulthood also has its drawbacks, slip ups, and awkward, drunken, late-night arguments that are barely remembered in the morning.

Local event promotion and hosting entity Two Parts did a solid – and impressive – job managing their first iteration of the UMS. Apart from a very few-and-far-between technical difficulties and mis-communications, it was hard to find anything that went anywhere near wrong. And the constantly growing crowds at each of the four stages and 20+ venues proved it.

It’s been a journey – for music, for art, for Denver, and for all the people that have helped the UMS grow from that also-ran, haphazard, beautiful show to a major event. And from infancy, through adolescence, and into adulthood. If it were up to me, and me alone, I wouldn’t wish to change one second of it.

We’re looking forward to seeing how this adult starts banging up the world around it with its growing influence. But, more than anything, we can’t wait to hear the soundtrack.