Every year there seems a plethora of options when it comes to live music. To those who devotedly follow what the radio tells them, they would be eager to spend their money on Bonaroo, Coachella, SXSW, or even Sasquatch. And that is great. Because if you see one of them, you know exactly how the others will be. Sure there may be a slightly different crowd and The Black Keys change the name of the festival they thank, but seeing the same film in four different theaters doesn’t change the movie.
But once a year, in the hidden treasure that is Boise, Idaho, Treefort Music Festival electrifies thousands of attendees.
The previous incarnations of this festival have seen it rise with an opening show Wednesday night, a late night Thursday romp, followed by a Friday night to remember, then a solid Saturday and Sunday that would leave your feet aching, your ears ringing, and your experience unforgettable. But in 2015, Treefort opted for a solid five day event.
Wednesday kicked off with a tribute to Paul Revere, a legendary performer, then rolled into the night on a solid line-up of several bands. From the tribute, to the final “Thank You Treefort!” on Sunday, Treefort Music Festival was an all-go-no-stop event that lived up to expectations, but left some wondering if five days was just too much.
Clay: Without ever having attended any of those aforementioned music outings, I can only speculate as to what happens, but most of it involves commercialism in a big field. This festival – and to answer the question, five days does feel a little bloated – is city plus great musical discovery. Sure, you’ve got a main stage where you can see the likes of TV on the Radio and Built To Spill in their well-deserved big name glory, but you’ve got countless venues around Boise, from bars with incredibly creepy lighting and fly art like Crazy Horse, to disco ball fun of seeing someone like Sugar Candy Mountain at the Neurolux, to something as obscure as Animal Eyes playing their umpteenth show in the mezzanine of a glass-blowing studio. There was something for everyone, and there was a ton of good music to be had.
Last year our a-ha moment came when we went on a time travelling journey with New Madrid and haven’t looked back. This year I feel like our musical revelations were two-fold:
1) I am now a 100% committed fan to Portland’s Run On Sentence. That guy can put on a show. His acoustic rock set at Pengilly’s was a jaw to the floor, roof blown off the place, and other cliche statements, grand time. The hard, driving rock coupled with a country feel and his belting lyrics kept me riveted through the set.
2) While I had a ton of respect for the 2014 acoustic set from Animal Eyes, they raised it even more when we finally saw their electric set. Those guys know how to play a room, whether it is a wireless trio at a brunch venue, or a full-fledged distorted guitar beat-down at the Campfire stage, these are true rock ‘n’ roll professionals.
Greg: By the end of the fifth day it could be argued that there was absolutely so much music that lines became blurred (and not in a terrible, copyright infringing kind of way). My feet were tired, my ears were ringing, and my mind was like a George Lucas teaser, all over the damn place.
The time the doors closed on the Fort and now has allowed everything to settle into a comprehensible reflection. There were great subtle sets, like Jan Reed at The District and the entire Bittercreek Brunch, and there was the dynamics of Lost Lander, and The Smokey Brights. But above all the most memorable piece of Treefort 2015, the one thing that will always stick with me, was not a band or a specific set.
Treefort Music Festival is an exceptional celebration of acceptance and tolerance in an incredibly tumultuous, spiteful world. To even call it a “Music Festival” seems wrong, it fails to encapsulate the truly remarkable atmosphere surrounding it all. Diversity is more than an old wooden ship here, it is an understatement. Whether you’re in attendance for the impromptu shows that pop up all over the place, the dark ambiance of progressive metal in unnerving venues, or you care to mix with the masses, I witnessed no ill will, ostracizing, and no violence. The festival becomes a festival of friends you didn’t know you had.
Whether you came for the main stage, or you came to just “see what happens” Treefort Music Festival is a purposeful blend of the full spectrum of musical experiences. Unlike the commercialized traveling circus of “original” music fests, there is something in the air in Boise, in Treefort, that is escape into a world and time that is all too uncommon anymore. And maybe five days is pushing the limit of audible and walkable exhaustion, but pain is temporary and Treefort memories are forever.
Clay and Greg are co-founders and regular contributors to Nanobot Rock. While not venue hopping at Treefort, they could be found at the wonderful food trucks and Alefort.