Underground Music Showcase returns July 28-30, 2023

Article Contributed by gratefulweb | Published on Thursday, February 2, 2023

The Underground Music Showcase (UMS), Denver's largest, multi-day music festival, returns to South Broadway Friday, July 28 through Sunday, July 30. UMS 2023 will feature more than 700 discovery artists from Colorado, the Rocky Mountain region, and national headliner acts, drawing over 10,000 music lovers each day of the fest. As always, tickets are priced for all music fans who want to attend, and remain the best deal in town!

Rooted in the spirit of discovery and fun that has defined the UMS since its founding in 2001, today's UMS is a mission-driven community experience that intentionally centers the care of its musicians and fans, often challenging conventional norms of profit-driven music festivals. This year's UMS will advance economic and creative and workforce opportunities for historically marginalized artists, increase access for musicians and music lovers with disabilities, and support safety and mental wellness for Denver's diverse music community.

"We believe experiencing live music together increases inclusion, joy, and belonging and is good for the soul," says Jami Duffy, Executive Director of Youth on Record and Co-Manager of the UMS. "But so often, the artists that create these experiences are treated as a commodity. They struggle economically or with health or mental health issues – or all of the above. That's why our focus this year is care: care for community, care for culture, and, most important, care for UMS artists."

Adding to its focus on care, the newest mission-aligned addition to the fest, the UMS accessibility plan, will demonstrate the owners’ commitment to more inclusion, and will focus on taking an honest look at current accessibility. UMS will make small and large improvements to ensure that musicians and fest goers with disabilities have more access to the fun. Kalyn Heffernan  of Wheelchair Sports Camp will lead team efforts for the plan, and Jessica Wallace,  of Greater Depth Media, is a life-long disability and accessibility activist, photographer, arts educator, and producer, will serve as the newly hired Accessibility Lead. Fest goers and musicians can expect to see accessibility improvements over the next several year, which embody UMS’ new Accessibility Commitment: “UMS believes that experiencing live music as a community increases inclusion, joy, and belonging. Yet for many music lovers and musicians with disabilities, the full experience is often out of reach. That's why we're committed to making the UMS experience – both in person and online – accessible.  We know that it will take time and ongoing engagement to meet the ever-changing needs of a dynamic, diverse community of music lovers. So, over the next several years, UMS will hire artists with disabilities to lead this vision, and we’ll make the small and large improvements they recommend in pursuit of broader accessibility. “

The UMS is produced by Two Parts and Youth on Record, which formed a limited liability Colorado partnership in March 2022 to elevate Denver music and build a community-oriented festival model. In 2022, the partners executed the most successful UMS in the festival's history, exceeding financial and impact goals.

Highlights of 2022 include:

Sold-out crowds of approximately 10,000 per day included 47% first-time UMS attendees.

Increased artist payments to a minimum of $200 per artist/$400 per band for a total of $100,000 in additional investment in Colorado's creative community.

Hosted Impact Days, a two-day professional development opportunity for UMS performers.

Launched a re-imagined green room, known as Artist Care Lounge, a substance-free, wellness-focused environment offering massage, movement work, and other free therapeutic resources to performers. 

Placed Sober Bars at every outdoor stage, offering alcohol-free choices to the XX% of festival participants who identify as sober and/or sober curious*

Offered free mental health resources to festival attendees at Impact Days, a mainstage performance headlined by the Seratones, produced by Youth on Record.

Read the full UMS Impact Report

“We’re excited to build on all of these things each year to create a festival that's far beyond what we ever dreamed when we first took the reins. These efforts all align with our belief in sharing discovery, a core idea that remains at the heart of UMS”, said Casey Berry, Founder of Two Parts.

In addition to deepening existing programming, UMS 2023 will include the roll-out of a comprehensive three-year accessibility plan to improve how musicians and attendees with disabilities experience every aspect of the festival, from the website and app to stages, venues, vendors, and participating businesses. Developed in partnership with Jessica Wallach, an artist and long-time disability and accessibility advocate, and Kalyn Heffernan, activist, educator, and emcee of Wheelchair Sports Camp, the plan will be informed and led at every stage by artists with disabilities.

Also new this year, UMS 2023 will serve as a robust career development pipeline for young creatives in the Youth on Record Fellowship Program, who will gain paid, real-world festival experience working in the UMS box office and other areas.

“The future of Colorado’s creative economy is now, “says Duffy. “UMS is a perfect opportunity to give young creatives, who are the future of Colorado’s workforce, the experience they need to work in this field. Youth on Record’s team will begin preparing our 15 fellows for these placements as early as March, and they’ll start working with their fest team leads in June.”  

Pre-sale tickets to UMS 2023 will be available in early March. A portion of all sales will benefit Youth on Record.