The Underground Music Showcase is underway. Last night's kickoff of the 400+ band festival featured standout sets from the likes of Jux County and Homebody. But there's plenty more to see and hear. We've picked out eleven of the sets we're most excited about.
Men in Burka Friday, 7 p.m. hi-dive
If genres were actual representations of the music they are supposed to encapsulate, Men in Burka would be at the forefront of world music. Kamran Khan Strange Powers and Mario Zoots are culture mixmasters, seemlessly blending hip-hop and pop with Middle Eastern sonic influences to create something smarter than your average club-banger. --Bree DaviesThe Other Black Friday, 9 p.m. Illegal Pete's
Wesley Watkins' The Other Black is a party band in the sense that it physically is the party. More than a dozen members fill the stage at any given show, creating a dance floor of its own full of expert musicians and vocalists that pay respect to soul's history while creating a futuristic funk all its own. At the top of it all is Watkins, who leads The Other Black with his big voice, bigger persona and an even bigger afro to match. BD
Colfax Speed Queen Friday, 10 p.m. 3 Kings Tavern
Electrifying in that rock-n-roll-as-religion way, Colfax Speed Queen is one of those bands that only feels right live. These blues-oriented garage dudes have tapped into that thing the Cramps once executed so well -- finding the perfect balance of sarcasm and hedonistic rock excellence in under two-and-a-half minutes. BDGlass Hits w/ Accordion Crimes and Mako 1972 Friday, 11 p.m. Eslinger Gallery
After two stellar (and gorgeously appointed) releases, Denver's own Glass Hits is calling it quits. Finals shows are always bittersweet but tend to also be a little bit nuts, so even if you never caught Glass Hits before make sure you can say you were there for this one. Luckily Accordion Crimes and Mako 1972 will carry on the torch of noisy, bombastic post-punk here in town, but that's not to say things will be the same.--Oakland L. ChildersSpires Friday, 1 a.m. hi-dive
This is the band's last show and its dense yet dynamic dream pop is as close to seeing a post-punk band akin to Echo & The Bunnymen or Comsat Angels in Denver outside of Emerald Siam. --Tom MurphyGoldenboy Saturday, 7 p.m. Gary Lee's Motor Club and Grub
Simply having been a member of Elliot Smith's touring band -- Shon Sullivan -- is worth a raised eyebrow. Goldenboy, however, is more than the side project it began as. It's quiet, melancholy rock music played with some of the most striking musicianship you're likely to find at UMS. OC
Natalie Tate Saturday, 8 p.m. Gary Lee's Motor Club and Grub
Natalie Tate is a wildly talented guitarist -- her work is on display in Ark Life and on the early releases of her solo project. Her most recent album, 2013's Given Day, is a quieter affair, but the lack of instrumental pyrotechnics make room for Tate's songwriting to shine through. And she proves equally devastating with a pen as with a pick. --Kiernan Maletsky
Echo Beds Saturday, 12 a.m. Eslinger Gallery
There aren't very many experimental bands at the UMS this year, but Echo Beds and its industrial nightmare catharsis of percussion and vocal caterwaul will be a good late night wake-up call. TM Chase Ambler Saturday, 3 p.m. Eslinger Gallery
These guys prove punk rock hasn't lost its purity of power, conscience and inspiration while curiously making pop-punk seem so relevant and fun again. TMSunboy Sunday, 5:30 p.m. Main Stage
Sunboy's wormhole songs are best experienced in a small, dark place, but the ensemble of veteran Denver musicians will do just fine pumping reverb and shouting onto South Broadway. KM
High Plains Honky Sunday, 11 p.m. Gary Lee's Motor Club and Grub
Perhaps being from the sea of whiteness that is Denver and calling yourselves honkys is a bit of an overstatement, but the members of High Plains Honky don't take any of that -- or themselves for that matter -- too seriously. They play traditional country music, not the kind of overly produced drivel that passes for country on the charts these days. Get your two step down and join the party. OC
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