BY TIM HINELY
It’s hard to believe that Denver’s UMS festival is now in its 14th year but that’s what they tell me. The festival has grown over the years from a mostly locals only bash to each year more and more headliners are gracing the stage. Last year brought killer acts like Cults, Mudhoney, Bleached and Lord Huron and while this year brought the likes of Real Estate, The Men and Blonde Redhead. Approximately 20 venues up and down South Broadway are hosts to some 400 bands and with a dedicated following I can see UMS continue to grow.
The festival is well run and run by a bunch of friendly folks who put in all of this hard work because they love music (imagine that). The food was good, the porta potties were plentiful and the douchebag quotient was low. Thursday night eased into the festival with only a dozen or so of the clubs hosting bands (and no main stage…..yet) but bands like In the HALE and SLEEPERHORSE graced the stage at indie haven the Hi-Dove while 3 Kings Tavern hosted GOODNIGHT TEXAS and ‘OL HICKORY, among others.
On Friday most of the patrons seemed a bit more juiced up after a long week of work. This brought the moody folk of THE BELL HOURS and the 60’s retro pop of THE JEKYLLS to Gary Lee’s Motor Pub and Grub while BUMMER and THEY KNEW tore down the walls at 3 Kings Tavern while at the Hi-Dive both WIDOWERS and WOODSMEN brought their dedicated following to cram themselves into this tiny club. The main stage brought the synth pop of TANLINES and the in-yo-face rap of People UNDER THE STAIRS. G’night.
The parking spaces were even more sparse on Saturday night but the bands kept a comin’. Over at Brendan’s the LORDS OF FUZZ got in your face while at Safari Room the GIN DOCTORS spun their magic. OLD MONK brought their 90’s indie rock swagger to the Hornet while at the Hi-Dive ARK LIFE brought the crowd several handful of beauty. On the main stage I missed both MINIATURE TIGERS and GARDENS & VILLA (damn,….right during dinner) but caught the lackluster electronics of BATHS and New Jersey’s REAL ESTATE showed pop fans how it’s really done with a lovely n’ languid set.
I thought the crowd would thin out a bit on Sunday but no such thing happened. At the main stage they came to see New Jersey’s (friends of Real Estate?) THE MEN drill their point home but the band had to play as a trio as one member was stuck in Mexico. They still brought the noise while the noodly 60’s psych pop of UNKNOWN MORTAL ORCHESTRA didn’t do much for me, but I was in the minority as most of the crowd loved ‘em and NYC’s BLONDE REDHEAD are still at it, creating swaths of pretty noise much like their mentors in Sonic Youth.
Wanted to catch RENO DIVORCE and SPEEDWOLF at 3 Kings Tavern but alas , my bed was calling (calling me the oldest person at the festival might be a stretch, but not too much of one).
What’s in store for next year?