After celebrating its twentieth anniversary online because of COVID-19, the Underground Music Showcase is returning to South Broadway in 2021.
In 2018, the festival, which was founded in 2001 and run for years by the Denver Post, was taken over by Denver-based event-production company Two Parts, which specializes in craft food, beer and maker-focused events. The company, which was started in 2013 by Casey Berry, amped up the experiential elements of the festival and incorporated more art and installations.
Berry was gearing up for another UMS last year when the pandemic hit, forcing the group to pivot online, focusing its efforts on supporting out-of-work artists. The virtual fest raised $75,000 for independent musicians.
While the UMS has traditionally been held the last week of July, this year’s festival will be pushed ahead to August 27 through 29. Local and national headliners will be announced in July, but pre-sale tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Wednesday, May 12.
“We wanted to give more time for the city to come back,” says Berry. “And I think a big piece for us is how important it is for the venues to get back on their feet for a week before we bring a full festival down [to South Broadway]. We want to make sure that we're all good and ready for it, and an extra couple of weeks can go a long way when it comes to festivals and planning.”
Berry says part of planning for this year’s festival includes keeping bands, attendees and businesses along South Broadway safe by working with city and state officials. There might be reduced capacities, especially at the indoor venues, and ticket sales could potentially be limited to ensure proper distancing as required by local laws.
“I think space is the name of the game, which is always a little bit of a challenge on Broadway,” Berry says. “But we've had some awesome partners over the years that were able to really make sure we're utilizing it as much as possible.”
Berry says one of the biggest challenges of this year’s UMS is for the Two Parts team members to make sure they’re not putting anyone in uncomfortable positions. “And also making sure, as everybody comes back, that we're all just getting our training wheels back on and getting back to it."
Over the past year, Berry has heard from fans and venue operators about how much the UMS means to the community.
“I think that has been our constant motivation,” Berry says. “Last year really sucked. We're really motivated to keep it going for everybody and for ourselves. We love this thing, and never want to see it go away.”
UMS will run from August 27 to 29. Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Wednesday, May 12, at the UMS website.
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