The Weekend Show Down: Our top five picks for the UMS

There's nothing like the sweat, thump and catharsis of a great show. But it can be tough to decide which one to go to when you live in Denver, the land of embarrassing musical riches, the land of too many shows and too little time. So which ones are worth checking out? Glad you asked. Because we work for you, we've compiled a list of the best shows this weekend in one easy-to-swallow post, with video and audio.

This weekend, if you're thinking about checking out some local music, the UMS festival -- which kicked off on South Broadway last night, is your best bet. Seeing as how we're, you know, local music connoisseurs and all, we thought we'd put together a list of our top five must-see acts of the festival -- and they're some good ones: Machine Gun Blues reunites, Paper Bird swoons, Houses jams, Snake Rattle Rattle Snake grooves and Accordion Crimes does, well, whatever Accordion Crimes is wont to do.

05. ACCORDION CRIMES Thrifty Stick Friday, July 23, 7:30 p.m. WHY YOU SHOULD GO: Sporting a sparse, discordant aesthetic and a fetish for over-the-telephone-sounding vocals, Accordion Crimes does not feature accordions, but does occasionally sing about crimes. The video doesn't nearly do the band justice--the beauty is the live show.

LISTEN: Accordion Crimes

04. PAPER BIRD Goodwill Parking Lot Main Stage Friday, July 23, 7:30 p.m. WHY YOU SHOULD GO: It'll be a tough choice, since Accordion Crimes is sadly playing at exactly the same time, but if you like lovely three-part vocal harmonies and olde-tymey, ambling folk music, you're not likely to find any more lovely than Paper Bird. Live, the band known to trigger overwhelming nostalgia and sentimental feelings toward people you may or may not know.

LISTEN: Paper Bird

03. HOUSES Goodwill Parking Lot Main Stage Saturday, July 24, 3 p.m.

WHY YOU SHOULD GO: Not since Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young has a band mixed gorgeous, multi-part vocal harmonies, major-chord melodies and searing blues licks so effectively. Is it a little throwback? Sure, but the band is just as clean live as it is in the studio, and the tunes sink hooks deep enough to pull you right out of your chair. And that's music everybody can get into (pun intended, sorry).

LISTEN: Houses

02. SNAKE RATTLE RATTLE SNAKE Goodwill Parking Lot Main Stage Saturday, July 24, 7:30 p.m. And 3 Kings Tavern Sunday, July 25, 10 p.m.

WHY YOU SHOULD GO: A bona-fide Denver supergroup (members have also done time in Monofog, Moonspeed, Bad Luck City and others), SRRS makes atmospheric dance rock that somehow manages to brood and groove at the same time. Snake it, baby.

LISTEN: Snake Rattle Rattle Snake

01. MACHINE GUN BLUES 3 Kings Tavern Saturday, July 24, 11:30 p.m.

WHY YOU SHOULD GO: Once upon a time, Machine Gun Blues ruled the Denver world of ridiculously raucous shows that became notorious for often ending in the nudity of frontman Aaron Collins, who later went on to become (for a short time) a luchador, and then later the centerpiece of A Tom Collins, an act we know and love today that, disappointingly, rarely features nudity. We missed MGB something terrible when they disbanded two years ago, and we highly recommend not missing this ultra-rare performance from a local legend -- that just might feature a little T&A. Well, probably just A.

LISTEN: Machine Gun Blues

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Jef Otte
Contact: Jef Otte