South Broadway will transform into a concertgoer’s dream world this weekend when the annual Underground Musical Festival (July 27 to 29) brings more than 300 acts to 20-plus venues along the popular corridor.

Two Parts—the local event company behind Sesh Fest and the Passport Program—purchased the festival from the Denver Post Community Foundation earlier this year. But that’s not the only thing that’s different about the 18th annual UMS. For one, there are four outdoor stages this year, including the Comedy Stage at Illegal Pete’s and the art-themed Imagination Stage. And the Two Parts team is bringing its popular Sesh Fest—a celebration of beers with less than five percent ABV—to UMS through the Sesh Stage. Around 10 Colorado breweries will pour their sessionable beers on Saturday and Sunday, accompanied by food trucks and, of course, live music.

With so much going on, we turned to an expert—event director Tobias Krause—to find out which shows we can’t miss. “This year’s lineup is packed, top to bottom. There’s something for everybody,” he says. “It’s a discovery festival—walk into these stages at any time and you’ll discover something [new].” With that in mind, here are 11 of Krause’s recommendations.

Local Acts To Seek Out

Denver-based foursome Oxeye Daisy just released its first album in May, so this is among your first chances to hear the dream-pop group perform its debut live. Give ’em a listen at 3 Kings Tavern on Friday at 7 p.m.

In/Planes is husband-and-wife team Inaiah Lujan and Desirae Garcia. Get a taste of the Pueblo duo’s take on American roots music during two Saturday shows: noon at Skylark Lounge and 9 p.m. at Illegal Pete’s.

Denver rapper Ray Reed recently crossed something off his bucket list: headlining his first show (at least, we assume that was on his bucket list). If you missed it, see the up-and-coming hip-hop artist at Blue Ice Lounge on Saturday at 6 p.m.

“Everybody should stop what they’re doing,” Krause says, to hear the beauty that is lyrical folk artist Joel Van Horne, otherwise known as Covenhoven. The Colorado native will perform at South Broadway Christian Church on Saturday at 9 p.m.

If you haven’t yet heard indie-rock groups Wildermiss‘ lead singer Emma Cole belting out “Carry Your Heart,” well, it’s about time you did. The Denver quartet won 93.3’s annual Hometown for the Holidays contest, and you can catch them Friday night at 3 Kings Tavern at midnight.

Tyto Alba is the scientific name for barn owls and also this four-person, dreamy/indie Denver band. Their ethereal style takes the stage at the Irish Rover Friday at midnight.

Not Local, But We’re Still Fans

Disco is back, courtesy of Brooklyn, New York’s Escort, who will be lighting up the Main Stage on Friday at 6:20 p.m.

Digable Planets have been around for a while—long enough for the hip-hop trio to have won a Grammy…in 1994. (Re)discover their old-school sound on the Main Stage on Friday at 8:30 p.m.

Deerhunter‘s frontman is described as “compellingly odd,” which should be intriguing enough to draw you to the Atlanta experimental noise rock band’s Saturday Main Stage show at 8:30 p.m.

Parallelephants makes a strong case for best band name, though it’s really the pseudonym of producer/songwriter Thom Sykes. Check out his pop-psychedelic stylings on Sunday at 3 Kings Tavern at midnight.

Get a preview of Austin-based White Denim‘s new music (their next album releases in August) when the rock band takes the Sesh Stage on Sunday at 4:20 p.m.

At Home: Out of town during UMS? Too excited to wait until the shows start? Listen to the official UMS playlist on Spotify, or let the music app create a personalized, UMS-themed playlist based on what you already listen to.

Tickets start at $40 for a day pass. Weekend passes are $75, and access to the Sesh Stage (plus drink tickets) is $40. 

Daliah Singer
Daliah Singer
Daliah Singer is an award-winning writer and editor based in Denver. You can find more of her work at