The Denver Post Underground Music Showcase arrives later this month, hosting over 400 bands performing across four days.
As the Front Range's largest, premier music festival, chances are you've been looking at the lineup trying to decide what to see. Or perhaps you're a fanatic like me with your list of bands you know you "must see" and you've been stalking The UMS webpage waiting for them to announce dates/times so you can plan your festival experience.
Either way, here are 10 bands that are guaranteed to show you a good time:
1) Unknown Mortal Orchestra (Portland)
From Portland by way of New Zealand, Ruban Nielson and his band have created an experimental pop sound that lies somewhere Pink Floyd and The Flaming Lips at their most creative. Their album "II" from last year was big for me and I felt fortunate enough to sit down with the band in our studio in addition to seeing them in a sold out Larimer Lounge opening up for Foxygen.
2) Ned Garthe Explosion (Denver)
Sometimes you just know you're going to like a band when you start seeing their name on flyers across the city paired with other bands you love. That was how I was first introduced to Ned Garthe in 2012! Their tape "Teenage Acid Party" is one of my favorite releases of this year, but honestly, this band is best served live because they are funny, fun, and danceable.
3) Cayucas (Santa Monica)
I got an email in November 2012 from a radio promoter that read "Introducing Cayucas" that called the band a breezy, super fun California jam. I clicked on the link immediately to hear them and was charmed by how fresh yet '60s-inspired they were. I'm definitely a fan of them and think their Cali vibes will gel perfectly at UMS this year!
4) Kitty Crimes (Denver)
#treatyoself to Kitty Crimes. I remember a few Showcases ago I got a text message from a friend that said: "get here ASAP, next level yoga rap!" For reals. I showed up and to this day I still regard that show as being one of the best I've seen at UMS over the years. And yeah she's got a rap about yoga! It'll be especially exciting to see Kitty Crimes this year because she has a backing band in addition to her DJ! Another draw is she always seems to pull out great anthems to cover like "Blister in the Sun" or "B.O.B." to get everyone singing along!
5) Residual Kid (Austin)
This Texas teenaged trio rocked my face off at UMS last year. They're fun to watch and you can't help but think how cool their parents must be for supporting their natural talent, and also for turning them onto Nirvana and Dinosaur Jr. The latter band's J. Mascis is a fan of them and produced some songs for them too. They may be teens but they play and rock as if they've been doing it since they were born. So glad they'll be back to make it seem like grunge never left, and I won't feel guilty for moshing like a teen again. Okay, I'll admit it, I don't really mosh anymore, but I'll jump around...safely!
6) A. Tom Collins (Denver)
This band is required UMS viewing in my opinion. I remember the first UMS they played when the group hung all of these mysterious flyers along South Broadway promoting their show - I had no clue what to expect other than I knew it was Aaron Collins (formerly of Machine Gun Blues' band). Fast forward to last year and at 2 a.m. the band led the sold out crowd from 3 Kings across the street to Hi-Dive with sparklers, dancing and their raucous live band!
7) Miniature Tigers (New York City)
This group has been around since 2007 but in the last year has been gaining a more national following. Its great to go to festivals to discover new music, and recently the group charmed me with their hilarious fan-sourced music video for "Used to Be the S***." Can't wait to discover more from them.
8) Colfax Speed Queen (Denver)
Straight up infectious rock and roll on local label Hot Congress. We've had the good fortune to have them in our studio, and they won me over when they stopped by our studio and played their cover version of Them's "Gloria." If you're looking for some homegrown garage/surf for this summer festival, this is your band!
9) People Under The Stairs (Los Angeles)
I've yet to see these West Coast rappers onstage and so this is an indulgence for me. Back in 2001 I was in a mix CD club and my hip-hop buddy turned me onto them back then with their song "Death of a Salesman," which started my relationship with the group. Nine albums later I am just as excited to see them now and I'm holding out they'll play some old favorites and their new single "1 Up Til Sun Up," a great song that samples some of my favorite video games.
10) Tanlines (New York City)
One of the biggest reasons I'm looking forward to seeing this band at UMS this year is because they'll debut new music. I cannot wait until the follow up to their acclaimed 2012 album is finally out, so this'll be a good primer.