Firsts. Aren’t they bittersweet? First kiss, first job, first time behind the wheel. The excitement and nervousness that builds to a crescendo where you almost leave your body, and then the moment when you realize, wait, it’s done already? I survived? And now you try to remember all the little bits before they escape or become another warped memory.
This past weekend I experienced my very first Underground Music Showcase. This year the homegrown festival created by music industry professionals celebrated its 21st anniversary and its first year back in-person since COVID-19. I immediately felt at home tucked away behind the Goodwill I always rummage through on South Broadway, feeling a sense of a true block party spirit that was welcomed by the performing artists, staff, and fans of live music alike.
And there were firsts all around! This was the first festival performance since quarantine for Shannon and the Clams, first time performing in Denver for Rapper Mike (the chillest dude I’ve ever met) and for electronic dance fab-fashion duo CAPYAC (CAPYAC FOREVER out now on Spotify). For so many of the indie listeners I got the pleasure to meet at the Indie 102.3 booth, it was their first time out and about taking in live music or getting the opportunity to work backstage at the festival.
I asked Jim Herliihy from the Boulder band Augustus (who kicked off Day 1 and was the first to perform on the Showcase Stage), what he was most excited about. Jim grinned and shrugged, expressing that he was just happy to be at UMS and to be in person with friends, fans, and fellow musicians. You could feel the air around him buzzing with excitement and hellos.
And I felt it. The joy was contagious, eyes behind masks expressing, “We are actually here, we are doing this!” Through the fist bumps, elbow taps, actual hugs, and handshakes ending in fancy snaps, it was clear that we are overjoyed to be in each other's company, witnessing something together in person again.
YaSi reverberated that love on the Sunday Showcase Stage with reminders of being compassionate to others and encouraging the crowd to chant together in unison “I can do anything I want to!” The mighty we are as one, capable of anything we want.
From the underground to all around, it was an absolute welcome to be back in a music festival that, for me, came to represent friends, frivolity, and first times. If we can keep that kindness contagious, I think we’ll be doing just fine come UMS 2022.
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