07/09/2010 05:37 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

The Problem of Leisure: Special UMS 2010 Edition (part 2)

The Denver Post Underground Music Showcase has made it through a decade! We're gearing up for a huge summer festival July 22-25th and there will be more bands than you can shake your SXSWangs at. Donnybrook will help get you up to speed.

Dan Kaufman Superstar Eruption

It's Friday night and I find myself sliding onto a familiar piece of vinyl at the Sputnik bar. Glancing down to my right I spot Dan Kaufman, obvious namesake of Dan Kaufman Superstar Eruption, here to play the Hi-Dive Hullaballoo. We exchange smiles, head nods and familiar "Hello's." Then, sine denuntiatio, without warning he pounds the unsuspecting man to my left with a furled-brow question, "What's up with that Michigan t-shirt, man?" turning back to his companion, not waiting to hear the man's feeble "From there..." response.

Dan Kaufman Superstar Eruption features Dan on lead vocals/guitar, Dustin Lawlor (from The Getdown!/now The Vicious Women) on bass and Lucas Rouge (formerly of Monofog, currently Cannons) on drums. A DKSE (everyone loves acronyms, right?) performance follows a similar schizophrenia. The sound jumps back and forth from the lulling drone of fuzzed out guitars to a full on assault on your ear drums, with loud, chunky bass chords, screeching guitar wails and the combined pounding of live drums and backing drum tracks. Projected images of penis and trees, teeth and rotting landscapes stain his white shirt, already colored with blood from self-inflicted abdominal gashes. As a cuddly koala flashes on the screen, Dan rips his shirt off, picks up a tambourine and flaunts about for a few seconds then, without warning, he leaps from the stage, runs around the room with said tambourine, goes outside sits at the bus stop, runs back in and jumps back on stage. He's writhing on the stage floor now, shirtless like his bandmates and with open cuts across his abdomen and chest. After the show I walk up and talk to him about how it went... "They started bleeding too soon," he says, clearly unhappy with the way the blood had worked out.

By Baron Chrysler LeBaron

The Hollyfelds

It helps that this group, for inexplicable reasons, has grand affections for Uncle Sid that are rivaled only by those of the Colonel. Again, I can't lie; it's a shameless pushpull of ego-exhaustion. But let us bracket that. If we can.

Dig it: the 'felds aren't pushing the go-to alt-country hot buttons; leave that to a slew of indie bands who didn't have the looks or chops to go up against their wall-of-wail contemporaries and jumped into the Wilco pants, chasing the Slim Cessna dream. That's fine and good. But all that disingenuousness will catch up to them, too. The Hollyfelds crank out straight old-style country music. Boom. What the fuck are you looking at? It's roadhouse romance time. You can either dance with the pretty young thing in denim or dance with the end of my pool cue. Your choice, you sumbitch. Either way, you're gonna get something broke.

The winding and warm harmonies of singers Eryn and Kate sounds like a well-intentioned, whiskey-fueled, gingham-fight between Patsy Cline and Tammy Wynette; held down by a pad of expert players who can pick, pluck, twang, and slide as their forefathers intended. If anyone is old enough, or dorky enough, to remember the band Texas - from Scotland - I'll give a nod and say there is some kind of crossover here; but will admit defeat at defining it. The Hollyfelds are better than Texas. No doubt. The band, and the state. Take a break from the mosh pit and/or [more likely] half-heartedly ignoring another walk-on band with an animal in their name and too many effects pedals and catch up with my friends the Hollyfelds this UMS. Don't worry -you'll still want to kill yourself afterward. I promise.

By Sid Pink

Hideous Men

Hideous Men are adorable! And their synth-based brand of hip-pop and electronics will have you swaying and bouncing, the bass notes rattling your insides against each other and making you believe, once and for all and without a doubt, that there is such a thing as the infamous military brown note. With vocals presented through auto-tune, summoning images in my head of a hybrid version of Barry White and the man behind the curtain in Oz, the husband and wife superteam of Ryan McRyhew and Kristi Scheafer exhibit a playful energy onstage that feeds off the emotion and reaction from the crowd.

Coming off well-received shows at Austin's SXSW, the DAM's Untitled event and a series of East Coast dates highlighted by a performance at Mass Art in Boston complete with vintage S&M projections, Hideous Men are playing shows more sporadically this summer, taking some time to focus on their music and process and to lay down tracks for a new album due out in the fall. Through their self-owned record label, Laser Palace, which distributes limited edition cassette tapes, Hideous Men released their self-titled debut EP in late 2009 to warm reception from fans and critics. In addition to the anticipated full length, Hideous Men plan to release a DVD of their visuals and audio concepts and participate in another installment of the Laser Palace Showcase. Hideous Men reside on the outer edges of pop music, questioning what the masses are calling art and music, and presenting their own, very worthwhile, alternative.

By Baron Chrysler LeBaron

Hot White

To put it bluntly, Hot White sounds like getting your ass kicked. Unflattering, ferocious and maybe even painful, their distinctive brand of experimental noise rock embodies both the intensity and cathartic rush of a swift kick to the face, served fresh at your local back-alley brawl. Promising to be one of the most forceful and idiosyncratic 'up-and-comers' at the UMS this year, Hot White's show is surely not one to be missed. Bastard sons and daughter of Henry Rollins, Lightning Bolt, Deerhoof, Sleater-Kinney and the like, Hot White is sure to leave you on the ground and screaming for more. While this may make them seem like a band not made for the faint of heart, Hot White does have a little something for everyone. Whether you're focused on their raucous live act, aberrant music or seductively spooky vocals, you're in for a treat.

By Danny Sax