Dear readers, I am home from my epic roadtrip adventure, well-sunned, well-loved, well-fed, and deeply grateful. In addition to lots of outdoor time with those who matter most to me, my path also crossed with wonderful several musicians, adding spatters of color to the late nights. As an adventure it ranks right up there with the best thing I’ve ever done.
Because I can’t stop/won’t stop, this weekend I am gearing up for the finest days in music that Denver has to offer all the livelong year at the Underground Music Showcase (UMS). The stretch of South Broadway that houses the Hi-Dive, Sputnik, Irish Rover, Skylark (etc) becomes an extended runway of jubilant, genre-crossing, warmly illuminated venues as art galleries, print shops, big ole churches, parking lots, and coffee shops all convert for the weekend into performance spaces.
Thousands of Denver music fans and bands both local and national are coming together to rock your face and perk up your ears. Wristbands for the entire weekend are only $40. Single day passes are also available in limited quantities each day on-site for $20.
Last night kicked off with some terrific artists (Nathan & Stephen, El Ten Eleven, Ha Ha Tonka) but you still have an insane amount of goodness to choose from as we hit our stride starting tonight. Here are some of my don’t-miss picks. Including that one song I am supposed to sing duet on, for my DENVER LIVE MUSIC DEBUT. Yes, really. Come cheer me on.
FUEL/FRIENDS TOP PICKS
FOR THE 2011 UNDERGROUND MUSIC SHOWCASE
The Pirate Signal
Saturday at 7:30pm @ Goodwill parking lot stage
Yonnas is one of the most literate, spirited hip-hop artists I have ever known, and his live performances are legendary. As their Facebook says, The Pirate Signal sounds like: “That point when you’re having sex and your face goes numb and heart feels like it is going to burst out of your chest.” So, um, GO.
Their is also my theme song for the upcoming weekend:
I Can’t Wait – The Pirate Signal
Gardens and Villa
Friday 10pm @ Hi-Dive
Very recently, all my social media feeds have lit up with friends raving about this Santa Barbara band (signed to Secretly Canadian), saying that their live shows are dance-party frenzies unlike anything going. They also apparently carry a bag of flutes on their back. Even though it’s going to be a billion sweaty degrees in the Hi-Dive tonight by 10pm, that sounds like something I need.
Saturday at midnight @ 3 Kings Tavern
The soon-to-be-called-something-else band featuring Denver music friends like Andy Hamilton, Mike Marchant, Johnny Lundock, and Matthew Till has been one of my favorite musical representatives of our fair city for a while now. They just finished their darkly atmospheric Winter EP, rounding out a sonic year of seasonal bliss. They also put on a terrific show, so it’s a no-brainer.
Friday at midnight @ Hi-Dive
You know that super duper catchy song “When They Fight” that I put on my summer mix that sounds like a retro girl group (“I love you, bayyyyybayyyyyy”) but is actually two guys from Louisiana? Yeah well, they’re here tonight. Let’s go see them.
Saturday at 7pm @ 3 Kings
I’ve peppered several mixes with the percussive-heavy rattle and pop of Saddle Creek band Old Canes, the new project of Appleseed Cast frontman Chris Crisci. Their album that I still play constantly is called Feral Harmonic, and I find them to be both, marvelously.
10pm Sunday at Delite
Named a “rising” band by Pitchfork, this Denver duo makes melodic and shimmery music inspired by lines from a Richard Ketchum book they found in a used bookshop and fed through www.translationparty.com. Rad.
YOU MIGHT ALSO FIND ME AT:
Iuengliss, 11pm Friday @ Delite (I love shaking my shit to Tommy Metz)
Fort Frances, 5pm Saturday at The Hornet (produced by Josh Ritter’s piano player Sam Kassirer, and a band that friends keep telling me to check out)
Gregory Alan Isakov, 8:15 Sunday at the Goodwill parking lot (because he is amazing)
The Centennial, 11pm Friday at 3 Kings (new band from the Meese brothers)
Saturday afternoon music panels “The Sesh” (I’m facilitating the Conversation with Duncan McKie who runs all the cool Canadian music funding programs)
A. Tom Collins (former frontman of Machine Gun Blues at 1am at the art deco Mayan? IN.)
Port Au Prince, 5pm Saturday at 3 Kings (new sounds from old friends in Astrophagus et al)
All the comedy at Sobo151 (Denver has some FUNNY COMICS)
Glass Hits, Friday 9pm @ 3 Kings (because they’re extremely loud and incredibly close) and their tightly-wound Fugazi tribute they’re reprising on Sunday at 10pm at 3 Kings.
Fairchildren, 5pm Saturday @ the South Broadway Christian Church / 7:30pm Sunday @ the Goodwill parking lot (Nathaniel Rateliff is not at the fest this year as far as I can tell, but the musicians that play with him will be, and their songs are based on fairytales of Hans Christian Andersen and the Brothers Grimm)
Panal SA de CV, 6pm Sunday @ Hi-Dive (Denver’s own anthemic instrumental rock band, reminiscent of Explosions in the Sky and other good things)
The H is O, 3pm Sunday @ the TS Board Shop (I’m gonna sing. I think.)
LET’S DO THIS, people.