The Denver Post Underground Music Showcase

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The ninth annual Denver Post Underground Music Showcase (The UMS) is going to be massive. Not that that’s anything new for the lauded music festival dubbed “the South by Southwest of Denver” by numerous blogs and newspapers. The yearly celebration of music known as the UMS has always been at the forefront of Colorado’s burgeoning local music community.

In 2009, the UMS will expand to a 4 day music and art festival that includes 200+ local and national-level performers on 25 stages in its fold of rock bands, comedians, singer-songwriters and DJs. There are 10 reserved slots for Sonicbids members. Bands are paid from ticket sales, which are split among the artists.

The UMS is the premier festival of local music and art in the region, focusing, as always, on Colorado artists. The event is carefully curated by executive director Ricardo Baca and talent director Ben Desoto. As the lead pop music critic for The Denver Post, Baca has devoted his life to independent music. Desoto, talent buyer at vaunted rock club the Hi-Dive, approaches music with an equally discerning ear and love of the process.

The Fray’s lead singer Isaac Slade played a surprise solo set at the UMS. And while the festival has also hosted performances from other major label acts (DeVotchKa, Meese, the Photo Atlas), its heart is with the indie acts (Dressy Bessy, Born in the Flood, 16 Horsepower) that have graced its many stages over the years.

What makes the UMS so special? It’s the people – the folks who share their music, the crew that spends nine months planning the event, and, most importantly, the crowds that come out to South Broadway in droves each July to take part in the most legitimate, comprehensive fete of music the region has to offer.

At the UMS, the presentation of the music is as important as the music itself. It’s the songwriter circle in the Persian rug boutique; the punk band playing the parking lot stage outside the skateboard shop; the arena rock band playing the packed rock club; the neo-folk collective playing inside the church’s sanctuary; the indie rock band playing the outdoor stage in the park; the singer-songwriter playing original compositions in an indie clothing shop; the vintage-rock band playing the rockabilly bar; the countrypolitan group jamming out in the back room of a popular restaurant; the hyped electro act starting a dance party in the minimalist art gallery; the hardcore group jamming out at the hipster screen-printing shop.