Review | Photos | Treefort Fest 2013 | Idaho

Images by: Zach Anderson, Robert Riddle, Jim Dalley, Mark Pemble, David Meadows, Jeremy Conant, Shelby Hergenreder, Ryan Furtado, Tyler Garcia, Ellen Rumel

Review by: Sabina Dana Plasse

Treefort Fest :: 03.21.13 - 03.24.13 :: Downtown Boise Venues :: Boise, ID

Full review below photo gallery!

If the Treefort Music Fest in Boise, Idaho is not on everyone’s music festival radar, it ought to be. The City of Trees played host to a four-day music experience, March 21-24, which showcased some of the best independent music available from the Pacific Northwest, Boise and across the country. In its second year, Treefort has clearly branded itself as a festival for emerging artists and the City of Boise as a legitimate place to play—and a city with great beer.

The 250-plus bands that performed for Treefort were also embraced by the 1,000-plus musicians that attended the festival as well as a crowd who supports a growing independent music scene in Boise. The variety of venues at Treefort was as varied as the bands that played. A large outdoor Main Stage hosted acts Friday through Sunday from early afternoon into the evening. Bars, clubs, lounges, an art center and a Shriner’s hall also hosted music throughout the festival, which all saw significant wait lines every evening. The festival also included panel discussions, films and a variety of other arts inspiring and music related events throughout the weekend. Even at the hotel bars such as The Modern, a Treefort sponsor and supporter, Treefort was embraced as musicians and music fans mingled together.

Kicking off Thursday evening, Treefort opened with Finn Riggins. The Idaho and Boise-based indie-rock trio of Eric Gilbert, Lisa Simpson and Cameron Bouiss are an integral part of Treefort as Gilbert is the festival’s director and a founder of the event. Gilbert said it was always an idea to have music festival in Boise, which he presented to Treefort’s producer Lori Shandro and assistant producer Drew Lorona and it became a reality.

“Why go to everyone else’s party,” said Gilbert. “It would be fun to play host.” With the launch of Radio Boise, Gilbert said it helped to have another avenue to educate, understand and introduce music listeners to emerging artists to support an event like Treefort in Boise.

“We wanted bands to realize that Boise is a viable tour stop,” he said. “Going from Salt Lake City to Seattle is a long ways. We want bands and agents to come to Boise. Check out our town and have different music experience.”

And the bands did come to Treefort. It was a gathering of hipsters and music addicts but Boise welcomed everyone with open arms especially when Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings performed to a packed house despite some chilly temperatures. An unstoppable performer, Jones as well as The Dap Kings kept soul alive and well on Friday night. Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings will celebrate 18 years together and Jones said that God has blessed her with a gift and she’s gotta to do this.

“We keep writing music,” she said in an interview before sound check on Friday afternoon. “It’s not about the money. It’s about the music. It’s about feeling good. It’s what we love to do and keeping it old school. We don’t have to have all the smoke and dancers running across the stage and spending millions for people to understand our music.”

Even though Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings opened for Prince and performed in an upcoming Scorsese film, Jones said she would always be herself and to keep things as natural as possible.

“I’ve never been to Idaho,” she said. “This keeps me going. People who have never seen me and say, ‘wow, I want to see her’ keep me going.”

Since everything is in walking distance at Treefort the Friday night crowd at the Main Stage dispersed to other venues including the Neurolux where Typhoon, more than 10 members strong, filled the lounge with their pleasing sounds of deep harmonies, a brass section, two drummers and strings. Front man Kyle Morton on guitar and vocals kept the band together and dynamic while a sea of people enjoyed one of Portland’s best.

Boise and Idaho bands rocked the evening with the punkabilly of Hillfolk Noir, the mountain twang of Old Death Whisperand the first of three shows by Built to Spill. At Tom Grainey’s, Treefort supplied plenty of bluegrass, traditional blues, mountain music and American roots sounds all with a new indie twist and plenty of fiddles.

An anchor to Treefort and beloved Boise brethren, Built to Spill played three evenings in the El Korah Shrine. Built to Spill has been touring with new members and on Sunday night did an hour of covers showing off their influences and style to its followers.

Friday evening was far from over at The Crux where one-man band Boy Eats Drum Machine aka Jon Ragel from Portland dazzled with his saxophone, devices, looping and voice mixing of original music and songs until 2 a.m.

On Saturday, Treefort kicked into gear with a Main Stage performance with Boise’s Tom Wait sound and front man Ben Kirby were an excellent lead into the day and evening of day two of Treefort. With food trucks and Alefort, which had its own line-up of music, the Main Stage stole the limelight with the harmonies and spirited sound of Holiday Friends from Astoria, Oregon along with the entertaining Los Angeles’s , a mix of eighties spectacle, punk and rock.

At the Neurolux, the music of Brooklyn’s Widowspeak was perfect for the moody lounge. Further in town, K. Flay of Los Angeles returned to Treefort for year two where she rapped and mashed at The Reef with unstoppable energy and biting lyrics.

Flying to Boise from all areas of the country, Camper Van Beethoven made an appearance at the El Korah Shrine. Veteran 80s indie rockers were a perfect match for Treefort’s mission to lure bands to Boise. The band said they were happy to be in Boise and support a festival like Treefort. The band’s members came from several areas around the country to come together for a stellar show at the Shrine.

On Sunday, the Main Stage featured the interesting rock and electronic sounds of Social Studiesfrom San Francisco, which was a good set-up for what followed from Youth Lagoon. Hailing from Boise, Youth Lagoon’s Trevor Powers has his own signature voice and keyboard—minimalist and hypnotic—representing something fresh and new for the indie pop world to get lost in. Finally, closing out the Main Stage party from Baltimore was Dan Deacon whose electronic vibe never gets old.

For the diehard Treeforters who stayed through Sunday, they had much opportunity to experience some Treefort goodies including the smooth and sexy R & B vibe of Portland’s Shy Girlsat the Neurolux followed by the incredible talented Emily Wells from New York, whose one girl band of mixing and dubbing with violin and drums was an art experience.

The Linen Building started the late night Sunday party with U.K.’s Dauwd whose DJ sounds and mixing were not only ethereal and eclectic but a non-stop dance groove the crowd loved. In the final performance of Built to Spill at Treefort, the band’s hour long show of covers was a satisfying ending especially with a closer of Neil Young’s “Cowgirl in the Sand.”

It wasn’t just a hip scene. Treefort’s artistic integrity is something to note because the festival was a true music experience. Every band was the best of its kind and each one was unique and different. And, on a high praise note, the sound at every venue from the outdoor Main Stage to the intimacy of The Red Room was extremely consistent and clear—very impressive.

It should come as no surprise that Boise emerges as an indie music scene, its roots in independent music have been there for decades and Treefort is taking it to the next level. If Idaho was never a thought, now it is because Treefort changed it.

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[Published on: 3/30/13]

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