This year was my first encounter with the UMS.
The idea of seeing a bunch of bands I’d never heard of seemed odd, at first. But in covering the event I discovered that kind of clean-slate mentality actually was the source of the immense joy I experienced during the festival’s four days. Something magical happened as I wandered into each venue with no preconceptions of what I might hear.
Now in its 16th year, the UMS occupies 15 stages along South Broadway for four days, packing them out with more than 300 bands — many of them local. It’s a massive party for local music fans and a summer reunion for the local music scene, not to mention a boon for many South Broadway businesses. (Check out our oral history of the UMS here.)
Things were a little different this year. The main stage moved down to the parking lot outside the former Kmart at Broadway and Alameda, with Meow Wolf providing an arty shuttle bus and Lyft offering $1 rides within the festival zone. With headliners Red Fang, Zola Jesus, Benjamin Booker and Denver’s own Esmé Patterson, and a solid daytime lineup to boot, plenty of festival-goers made sure to break away from the center of things up by the Hi-Dive and find their way down there.
We’re working on some music videos so you can experience some of each universe set up this weekend along Broadway. In the meantime, here’s a look at what we saw.
Ashley Dean contributed to this report.