We barely survived, but gosh dangit we made it. Another UMS is in the books and filed away neatly until we’ve been given a full year's recovery time to again embark on the tonal journey of excess and exploratory awe.

Photos: Brian Frederick and @TheUMS Instagram

Recovery mode: Initiated.

That was a hell of a weekend ladies and gentlemen. From the early evening hours of Thursday July 24 to the ‘we-should-already-be-in-bed’ closing sets of Sunday July 27, the annual Underground Music Showcase went down all without a hitch. It basically drove the musical dually over our awaiting faces and reversed across tired and heat-stroked sternums for seconds. At least, that’s how we felt amid the nagging realities of adult life. A mess, we were a damn mess.

It’s a common theme surrounding the festival though, the messy appearances and liver-punches of fun. What should be marketed as a straightforward marathon is usually misconstrued by fans as a free-for-all sprint that get in there hard from the first note to the very last of them on Sunday night (or early Monday morning, however one looks at it).

Colorado doesn’t have anything else like the UMS right now, so the excitement and anticipation surrounding it are expected, and the high fashioned partying is welcome by most everyone with working ears in the city.

We barely survived, but gosh dangit we made it. Another UMS is in the books and filed away neatly until we’ve been given a full year's recovery time to again embark on the tonal journey of excess and exploratory awe. We baked in the sun, pickled our organs and marveled at the people all while taking down half-assed notes from the occasion. Here in all their undistinguishable glory are the things we experienced throughout the four-day escapade:

Thursday is now a thing

We were pretty shocked at how many people showed up on a Thursday night to kick off the festivities. In the past the Thursday start times always kind of felt like a soft opening, a warm up of sorts, but this year the knob was cranked to lucky 13. Clearly some of the music fans had called out of work the next day, or had the wherewithal to take some personal time ahead of time. The UMS got turnt, and it got turnt way earlier than expected.

Don’t sweat, we’re all in the same boat

Actually you do sweat – a lot. It’s nature, and because white people want to live in the suburbs and work in the city we’re all going to be afflicted with a heated environment from now until our species passes on. Because of that it’s a hot stinking mess out there, but really, everyone is in the same boat with is so it’s not like anyone should be ashamed of it. What fun would a chaotic, hot, stinky mess of a party be if we all weren’t in fact hot, stinky, chaotic messes along with it? We can only hope Gold Bond picks up on the crisis and hands out free samples next year.

When did photographers become the stars?

Quick unenlightened query for a moment: When did photographers start thinking that they’re the rock stars? While we were enjoying various sets we saw photographers literally get on stage, mid-song, stand in front of the singer and actually try to command people for a show of hands to get the ‘ultimate shot’ – it was puzzling.

We will also note that it was a select few, not all, and some professionals were still there archiving the event with class. What was happening is certainly not the way to take a photo, even with an ‘All Access’ pass, and we hope that the media is regulated a bit more come 2015. </rant>

Say something about Astronautalis

Astronautalis is the shit, period, and end of story, al final. He didn’t even have his full band with him this time around. It was just himself and DJ Pointer Finger hitting play on his iPad, yet he still managed to ‘kill it’ (kill what?) on Friday’s main stage.

He has some of the strongest passion for music we’ve ever seen and always delivers a succinct, powerful and laughably enjoyable set (he could moonlight as a comedian, swear it).

We think it’s imperative for every fan of hip-hop – or any great music for that matter – to see him at least once or buy his albums. He always claims to love Colorado while he’s here, too (but has a hard time with our edibles), so he promises to be back – until then Google up some YouTubes to see what we mean.

People Under The Stairs is history, but not like gone history, like legendary history

“If you don’t like beer get the fuck out of here,” yelled Thes One, half of the historical hip-hop group People Under The Stairs, as he spouted off some of his favorite Colorado breweries. He and his vocalized-partner Double K have been rapping since the late ‘90s and put on an inescapable spectacle that’s only matched by other greats in the industry.

“We’re real old school rap,” pronounced Double K once mid-set. “We aren’t drug dealers who call themselves rappers.” And so the story continues…

Blue Ice accommodates your fingers with their toilets

We thought it was a hazed projection from too many Dale’s Pale Ales, but we can still swear on it that Blue Ice has hand holders on their toilets. Quaint little notches rest ever so conveniently on the rims like they’re begging for the next train-wreck to shoot too many Fireballs and lose mom’s spaghetti. File this enlightenment in the crazy packet; it’s still puzzling us today.

The weekend’s value is unmatched and should be experienced by everyone in Denver

We can go on and on about how we grow tired of everyone moving here because of a little weed, or sunshine, or fitness, or being a blue state, or because we’re the number one city to start a business in, or because they want to kill a pit bull – but it gets redundant and we still have naps to get to.

What we should do is supply every transplant swinging through the state with a welcome packet that includes things like driving-tip DVDs, flat-billed caps, a Pretty Lights vinyl, mountain bike tire repair kits and a few wrist-bands to the UMS. It’s easily one of the best values for loose change that one can come across in our music industry and allows for anyone at any time during the four days to catch great acts from great genres.

We’ve been doing this a long-time and still found new artists (shout out to Chemistry Club as our new favies) that we’ll be seeing again and enjoying for years to come. It’s like the Big Lots of local music without the corroded dust bunnies and strange fruit snacks from Japan.

And lastly, single word reviews of every band we saw throughout the weekend

Astronautalis (supremacy.), Tanlines (meh.), Brothertiger (talented.), People Under The Stairs (historical.), Inner Oceans (glorious.), Chemistry Club (inventive.), EC Lab (heartthrobs.), American Tomahawk (poetic.), The Men (moderate.), Input (turnt.), Reason The Citizen (generous.), The Epilogues (frenetic.), Roadkill Ghost Choir (agreeable.), Blonde Redhead (perfection.), Sunboy (psychotomimetic.), Baths (danceable.), DJ Alf’s 45 + 1 (creative.), The Griswolds (sweaty.), The Photo Atlas (musty.), SPELLS (insanity.), Itchy-O (scary.), In The Whale (scarier.)