By MEGHAN KEARNEY // Another year at Treefort Music Fest solidifies its title as one of the best music festivals the Northwest has to offer
Boise, Idaho’s Treefort Music Fest may just be the best kept secret in the Northwest. Albeit loosely secret, given the sheer numbers of people who flock to the city for the long weekend of music, art, yoga, beer, food, and so much more.
But when considering the festival as a Northwest mainstay, in its sixth year, Treefort is rapidly becoming the well established city-festival that the region needs most. With a headlining bill that rivaled some of the world’s largest fests, Treefort has put its mark on the map. And a glance at the lineup of over 400 artists reveals sets of micro-local festivals with packs of artists hailing from cities up and down the I-5 corridor and across the globe taking to the downtown streets of the mountain-lined crisp Idahoan city.
With a lineup so large, at Treefort it’s as easy to miss everything as it is to miss nothing. Having a planned schedule when approaching the fest is mainly a plan for fools as the best part about Treefort is stumbling on to those afternoon pop-up sets at the Modern Hotel, or being just a little too deep in your Axe Handle IPL to march from the Linen Building to Pengilly’s. Either way, no one leaves Treefort disappointed, and everyone leaves with a new favorite artist.
Let’s review this year’s highlights. (You can catch our full Thursday recap here).
Friday started out early with a special showcase curated by Party Boyz PDX, and easily a highlight of the weekend featuring intimate sets from an impressive lineup. We caught sets from catchy indie rockers Holiday Friends and one of Seattle’s hottest, unabashedly sexy rock n’ rollers, Thunderpussy.
After a couple of the best Bloody Mary’s in Boise (Neurolux), East Forest was up next. With an already packed Friday afternoon, the calm, earthliness of East Forest was a welcomed wind down. Treeforters gathered in tightly sitting along the front of the stage for the spellbinding performance.
Onwards into the night, a failed attempt to catch Magic Sword with the Boise Philharmonic due to an at-capacity Egyptian Theater hours before the show led to a glorious, sweaty dance party with Xenia Rubinos who wooed the crowd with a soulfulness far too powerful for the tiny Linen Building.
Saturday began another early day, this time at the glorious pop-up sets provided by Camp Modern, or the hippest little joint in Boise, The Modern Hotel. A campsite-esque set-up outside in the sun set the stage for roasted pig, cool beverages, and two FORTaculer sets from electronic collaborative Cavegreen (performed solo by Eleanor Murray, while GianLuca Bucci fronts the duos lyric-writing) and Portland bluesy rockers The Lower 48.
A morose but beautiful set from Portland’s Mimicking Birds once again arranged a late evening wind down before the long night ahead led with a second set from Cavegreen (read: our new favorite artist from the fest), into a nightcap of Boise’s finest, quirkiest, Thick Business.
Sunday, the final day of the festival, was a non-stop back-to-back lineup of the fest’s best sets. First up was Sunbathe, (project of Maggie Morris of Genders), followed by a long residency at the main stage. We started with Marco Benevento, a dynamic, spirited trio dressed in white. Their stage presence was captivating with each member radiating a spirit of having the best day of their lives. Bass player Karina Rykma bounced around the stage with a smile contagious enough to bring all of Treefort together in harmony.
The Album Leaf took the stage next, and in stark contrast to its predecessor, played through a dreamlike set that in its mainly instrumental composition was tear-jerking though cathartically comforting.
Next, was arguably our favorite set of the entire festival. Kate Tempest. The tiny British performer glowed with an air of welcoming, as if she was the woman known as everybody’s best friend, but her performance was jaw dropping, stop-you-in-your-tracks rhyme spitting. Her lovable accent masking the dark, thought provoking poetry of which she rapped over subtle beats, her words at the star of the show.
As the final night wound down, we caught the whimsical folk-pop of Lake, into the sweet sing-a-long rock ballads of the beautiful and ridiculously talented Angel Olsen. With every ounce of energy left to give to Treefort, a STRFKR set reached only through a two block deep waiting line was worth the shuffle and packed El Korah Shrine as some of the craziest off-beat musicians took the crowd to a cosmic dance party on a spacecraft made of synths and crowd surfing astronauts.
By the end of the long weekend, exhausted and bleary-eyed but nevertheless full of infinite memories, Treeforters dispersed back to their homelands and quiet downtown streets surely with a headfull of tunes and a countdown clock already ticking away to Treefort 2018.