Music Festivals

Meet the volunteers who make UMS work

There was a lot going on all the time at this year's Underground Music Showcase (UMS). Bands were setting up and breaking down to keep to the festival's tight schedule, fans clogged the sidewalks for blocks on both sides of the street, and food trucks and other purveyors of trinkets and pot paraphernalia hocked their wares outside nearly every venue.

Among the throng were always one of two serious looking people, obviously not among any of the aforementioned groups. Clad in hard-to-miss green t-shirts, they manned the doors, checking IDs and event credentials and generally helping make the whole thing move along.

They are the volunteers, a 375-strong pack of mostly young, college-aged students with a host of reasons for giving up their time to spend four days dealing with drunks and belligerent non-badged interlopers and providing the answers to endless questions about schedules, bands and where to find a particular venue.

Nia Efeoglu is eighteen and a freshman at Red Rocks Community College. She says she took the job along with some friends, looking for something interesting to do and a chance to get to see some new bands. Volunteers are given free four-day passes for their time, a $75 value for working a minimum of two shifts of several hours each. That's a big draw considering the sheer number of artist on the bill.

"I saw Ian Cooke," says Efeoglu. "It was amazing. I think it's definitely worth it."

But it's still work. Efeoglu was stationed at the box office on Thursday. Later, she was assigned to Eslinger Gallery as stage manager, greeting all the bands, telling them where to store their gear, how long they had to play and making sure those that are supposed to get paid do.

As at any job, paid or not, things don't always go the way you think they will. On Saturday, someone didn't show up for his shift, and so Efeoglu wound up manning the door at Eslinger. It's actually two doors, with people streaming in on both sides. Efeoglu is relatively small -- without the bright t-shirt she'd be easy to miss. But she handles her duties with gusto, occasionally turning people away who aren't wearing the requisite wristband. It doesn't seem to bother her that they are visibly annoyed.

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Oakland Childers has been a music journalist since he was sixteen.

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