Treefort Music Fest aims to put Boise, Idaho on the national music map. Now in its third year, the festival has done just that. Bands now plan their post-SXSW tours to shoot north and fans from near and far circle the date like it’s their mother’s birthday. This year marked the largest Treefort with more than 350 bands and approximately 7,000 people trotting about Boise’s streets each day of the four-day fest.
Following the SXSW and CMJ models, the festival takes place at multiple venues throughout the city. Luckily Boise is cozy, so there is little-to-no travel time between venues. Music isn’t the only feature of the festival. There are also a variety of non-music “forts” including Skatefort, Alefort and Yogafort.
The small size of this festival creates an intimate environment that truly allows the bands and the fans to connect. Grandiose attitudes are minimal and friends are easily made while trekking from show to show. Treefort truly is a beautiful event.
Here are some of the highlights:
8:26 PM: The Warm Hair took the casualness of Treefort seriously as they played their self-proclaimed “sex rock” barefoot at El Korah Shrine.
9:22 PM: While being mostly Northwest-centric, Treefort also played host to a number of international bands. One of them being Canadians Slam Dunk, who provided a danceable set that fell somewhere between Irish punk and Isaac Brock.
10:24 PM: Built to Spill is the band of Treefort. They played El Korah Shrine three nights in a row with each set having a different theme. This show introduced new songs and in typical BTS fashion, they are fantastic.
1:23 AM: Boise-based Teens started a fire at the Crux. Well, not really, but they started a mosh pit and spilled everyone’s drinks. Be sure to check these psychedelic rockers out.
4:33 PM One of the most exciting events at Treefort happened in a skate park. Seth Olinsky of Akron/Family arranged music for nearly thirty musicians from ten different bands including Aan, AU, Wooden Indian Burial Ground & Delicate Steve. Olinksy energetically conducted the the musicians with his hands, guitar & cue cards.
9:23 PM RJD2 could be heard playing the Mad Men theme song from across the parking lot as I scurried over to the Main Stage to watch him spin records across six turntables. A horn section joined him on stage during “Ghostwriter.”
11:36 PM A few cracked ribs didn’t stop Wooden Indian Burial Ground‘s Justin Fowler from hopping into the at capacity crowd at Neurolux. It also didn’t stop an enthusiastic fan from breaking a sign over his head. Psych rock at its finest.
12:34 AM The Entrance Band continued the psychedelic adventure at Neurolux. Great live set.
6:17 PM Tele Novella sound like a psychedelic midnight drive through the desert complete with abandoned 1950s motels and tumbleweeds. Definitely a good summer-weather soundtrack.
7:20 PM The sun was getting low as The Joy Formidable took the Main Stage all the way from the UK.
9:13 PM Polica was a surprise favorite of Treefort. They closed-out the Main Stage with two drum kits and ethereal vocals that fall in line with Austra. It was the perfect Sunday synth-pop.
10:07 PM Boise locals Virgil played a blues riddled set with plenty of wah and rambling keys at The Crux. This is a great high-energy band.
10:42 PM Built to Spill closes out their covers set with a heart melting rendition of “Something.”
11:07 PM The Shredder was a little off the beaten path, but it was worth the trek to catch Naomi Punk. Beyond mastering Olympia grunge, they also seem to have mastered the fine art of the bowl-cut.
12:24 AM The Shredder only got louder with Perfect Pussy‘s screaming noise vocals. It should be noted that their drummer is a machine that plays barefoot with painted toenails.
Perhaps the most charming aspect of the festival is the amount of community support. With festivals like MFNW moving to the waterfront and Sasquatch canceling its second weekend, it might be time to wonder if we have reached the apex of the mega-band festival and have made the turn towards locally-driven festivals like Treefort.