Radio 1190 goes to Treefort Music Fest!
A long drive through oil fields, wind farms, and treacherous weather found us in Boise, ID home of Treefort Music Fest. Now in its sophomore year, the festival leverages bands on their way back home from Austin, TX where many of them showcased at South by Southwest. Having just returned from SXSW myself on Monday, my head was in a similar place as the bands: eager for another weekend of fun, without the corporate edge felt in Austin. Truly, this festival has the feel of a younger version of the famous south Texas party, featuring emerging artists in intimate venues inside bars and coffee shops. What Treefort lacks is immense corporate funding. Instead of banners sporting the latest buzz brand, the walls at Treefort are lined with local mixed media art. I sit here writing in ‘The Crux,’ a natively Boise institution brewing Portland’s famous Stumptown Coffee. Everywhere I went, I felt very much at home. New Belgium Brewing has a strong presence in Boise, and the echoes of Tour De Fat are evident in the local culture and style.
Day one got started with an uplifting performance from Delicate Steve. This band perfectly embodied the spirit of the festival, and provided a great reminder of while we were all there: to have a great time, with great music. Next, I got a taste of the Boise house party scene with punk-organ enthusiasts Scarf. Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings headlined day one. Ms. Jones performs with energy and soul that is nothing short of infectious. She was dancing around the stage precariously perched on stiletto heels, an impressive feat for anyone and Ms. Jones absolutely rocked it. Typhoon pulled the longest line, and the most hype of any band at the festival. After a short wait, and a long sound check, they took the stage with full horns, strings, and very emotional singing; this is certainly a band to keep an eye on. I ended the night with Boy Eats Drum Machine. He has released six full albums on Portland based indie label Tender Loving Empire. BEDM is somewhere between DJ and an indie pop musician, combining live loops, vocals, and tenor sax in a very catchy way.
The next day got started slowly. This reporter ended up in the lobby of the hotel most of the early morning. Hats off to the staff for putting up with a large group of band members and friends playing piano and belting sing-alongs until the sun was just starting to kiss Boise. First up for music was a showcase from Denver’s own 20 Sided Records featuring Couches, Ash Reiter, and more. Closing out the showcase was station favorite Rubedo, who made it to the festival despite some very unfortunate van trouble in Wyoming. After a short break, I was back out to the main stage for Yacht. I missed these guys when they were last in Denver, and I have regretted it ever since. I am so glad I got the opportunity to see them in Boise. Don’t make the same mistakes I did, see this band ASAP! After a nap at the hotel, I headed back out on the town. I got my electronic fix with Shigeto and Shlohmo. If you read my earlier album review, you know that I really dig Shlomo’s music. He didn’t dissappoint, dropping new tracks from RL Grimes, Baauer, and Jeremih.
The last day of the festival always comes too soon. Some festivals decide to wind down on early Sunday, ending music in the early evening. Luckily Treefort was an exception. Running on nothing but coffee from the media lounge, I set out to document the final moments of the weekend. Bad Weather California started things off on the main stage, solidifying Denver’s relevance to the indie music scene. In fact, the contingency of bands from Denver was immense, and I found myself bumping into people who knew people who knew…you get the idea. Brainstorm was next on the main stage, a lively pop group from Portland. They are label mates of Boy Eats Drum Machine, and brought compelling pop grooves to the stage. Next up on the main stage was AU, a genreless combination of horns, keyboards, and psychedelic rock. The music shifted between dance music and all out trips, leaving me with feelings of springtime, lying out in the grass, looking at the clouds…Dan Deacon closed out the main stage with his own special kind of existentialist dance party. Crowd involvement is key at a Dan Deacon show and he knows how to get them moving just how he wants. The final show of my Treefort was Dauwd, an electronic artist from the U.K. in the same vein of Jamie XX and Burial. Frankly, I was more than a little surprised to see his name on the lineup of a festival in Idaho, but he was a can’t-miss artist for me.
After a short night’s sleep, a few liters of coffee, we hit the road back to Colorado. It is never fun to leave a place like that. It is nothing short of amazing what a group of passionate, hard-working people can put together. Treefort has the potential to be a truly great festival. If the approach and the philosophy remains the same, it will be a no-brainer to return. The homegrown feel, inspired lineup, and chilled out atmosphere make Treefort a wonderful place to spend a weekend.
More photos from the festival:
Photos and review by Nate Turley.