TENNIS @ UMS DAY PARTY | SAT, 7/20/13 Just a block off of Broadway, in a nondescript Baker-neighborhood house lived in by Tennis' sometimes drummer-sometimes bass player Patrick Meese and his wife, we saw a very different side of UMS. The party felt like it was thrown together in a pinch with a bunch of friends playing low-key sets in the shade of their backyard -- even with passerbys streaming in from the streets and sponsorship provided by the Denver Film Society.
See also: - Once "thrown into the fire," Tennis emerges with Young & Old - Nathaniel Rateliff is one of Denver's most lauded and admired singer-songwriters - Nathaniel Rateliff reinvents himself with the Night Sweats
This day party has become a tradition, resurrected every UMS weekend in the same backyard. "Three years ago, we decided to bring a PA out back," explained Meese. "That's how it got started. Last year, a few more people played it, including Churchill. It's just a fun, relaxed way to see music."
And relaxed it was with only a wooden board announcing "show" and an arrow pointing out back. The whole thing felt like a glorified outdoor band practice, in the best way possible. Some stayed for a single thirty-minute set or to hung out with friends who were already there, while others embraced the shade for as long as they could. And with Denver Film Society providing drinks and refreshments, those who got in there early enough were free to camp out.
Earlier in the afternoon, the Vancouver-based Shilohs showcased music from their recent release So Wild, a composition that pays homage to the 1960s pop era, from the Beatles and the harmonies of the Beach Boys with a certain Wilco quality and hints of Leonard Cohen. On a summer day, it was perfect, lending itself well to the already laid-back atmosphere with pop ballads like "This Is Vancouver Music."
Prism Waves followed up with something entirely different: a set of dreamy, slightly psychedelic electronic tunes that drew inspiration from the object of it's namesake. Layer upon layer of emotion -- from tranquility to an underlying, sweeping sort of sadness -- collided and blended to create something that was both seductive and ambient.
After a set from Tim Cohen's (of the Fresh & Only's) Magic Trick, the crowd was dense with newcomers eager to see Tennis and Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats, and towards the end of the afternoon, the backyard has forced it's own system of at-capacity, with late arrivals straining to get a peek of the stage.
Tennis favored both Cape Dory and Young & Old with sunny, blissed-out renditions of "Origins" and "My Better Self," as well as a few well-received new songs. Towards the conclusion of their set, front-lady Alaina Moore shared a story.
"It's really good to be here with all of you," she said. "We're from Denver, so we felt we had to move somewhere else for a bit. A few months ago, we moved to Nashville, and we're already back. It's been five days, and I couldn't be happier. I think we underestimated how cool the people here are and what an amazing place it is to live."
Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats shined with their exuberantly soulful sound alone -- but their backyard performance, from Rateliff's devil-may-care dance moves, to the placement of the horn section on the roof, made it a feast for the eyes, too. Taking a cue from the party onstage, the backyard, at its fullest at this point, let loose for a set that was joyful and ecstatic, leaving everyone in its path awe-struck. Impromptu shows like this give us even more reason to love where we live -- and the artists who hail from our hometown.