Best local Colorado music fest

Photo// Nicole Elizabeth


The Underground Music Showcase—often shortened to UMS—is Denver’s premier alternative music festival going on 16 years of action. The UMS is renowned for featuring local Denver artists, and giving young and local bands a platform to share their music. The fest also invites a range of national artists and boasts a bordering deliriously enjoyable intensity that comes from scrambling along South Broadway’s best venues and bars to see local favorites or out-of-towners across four days in the July heat.

The lineup for the UMS has never been disappointing, last year’s headliners included Thee Oh Sees, Allah Lahs, and Polica. The festival conveniently organizes its bands according to the multiple niche venues along South Broadway. For heavy metal there is Three Kings, for garage rock there is Hi-Dive, for DJs and electronic music there is Sputnik, and the main stage in the Goodwill parking lot for the larger acts.

The UMS differs from most music festivals because of its intentional spotlight on local bands or underground musicians, as opposed to most music festivals who try to book the biggest names in the business. There is a sincerity to the UMS that many festivals don’t have; it is truly about seeing and experiencing music and art rather than dressing up for an Instagram photo.

The festival is also a non-profit event that benefits The Denver Post Community Foundation, which strives to improve and enrich the lives of those who live in the Denver community. This is done by raising and distributing funds primarily to Denver metro area non-profits and has even been endorsed by the Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper.

The UMS is perhaps the only event to look forward to during the brutal Colorado summer heat. Denver is an interesting and booming city but there is no event quite like the UMS that seems to bring people together in a comforting, invigorating, and inspiring environment as UMS does. This is a Colorado treasure that should never be passed up.

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