Treefort Music Fest: Part 2
By Jesii Dee
Saturday was by far my busiest day as far as venue hoping and shows seen. According to my Fitbit, it was 8 miles worth of walking around Boise over the course of 12 hours. The main stage was flanked by the same vendors and food trucks on day 2, with a significant uptick in the amount of people that were out and about. It was raining that morning, but in true Boise weather fashion, it was sunny by the time the first show came around.
Jeff Crosby & the Refugees is local group to Idaho, but if you watched Sons of Anarchy, you’ve heard their music. As Crosby himself called it, "the hangover time slot” actually started things off on Saturday quite nicely. With a full band, and original keyboardist back on deck, they conjured up imagery of both back country small town living, and the hustle of LA (both of which the band now calls home). I love a good story within a song, and Crosby doesn’t disappoint with his songwriting and excellent performance.
I ventured over to catch Couches, a trio from San Fransicso, and got that weird feeling of being at my old-usual bar way too early in the day. Sort of the Vegas casino effect, where you don’t know what time it is since there are no windows, but then you walk back outside and it’s still day time. Anyway, that didn’t last long as Couches distracted me from getting too far into my head, and played a great set to a decent crowd for being 2:30pm.
Back over at the main stage, the NY based band San Fermin was setting up. Having listened to them quite a bit before TreeFort, I was excited to see them live. They did not disappoint, playing an extended set and bouncing between their new songs off their latest record, Jackrabbit, and older ones. San Fermin was able to get the entire crowd moving and even interactive with the singers on stage.
I luckily didn’t have to run to another stage or venue to catch the next act on my list. Rockers White Denim satisfied my indie alt rock needs quite nicely, as the sun was setting. With a much more vibrant live sound than some of their recordings, they quickly moved onto the “must see again” list I’ve been keeping. Mostly because I was also getting cold around this time - my Arizona blood wasn’t cut out for the drop in temperature every day!
The schedule for the main stage had a lengthy gap in it, and it turns out that’s because another infamous local group, Magic Sword - had something special planned. As I lingered in the beer tent, it became clear that something was up, as a mobile stage was wheeled in and all of the sudden there were blue light up swords everywhere. And then the music began, along with a GIANT spider puppet began dancing its way through the crowd, joined shortly thereafter by neon lit dragonflies. The mobile stage was covered in geometric lights and the masked duo that is Magic Sword appeared. They turned what up to that point had been a kick ass rock show line up into a dance party instantly. The entire main stage area was packed with happy dancing people, all the way until the spider and it’s friends had been danced back outside the gates.
Yacht couldn’t have asked for a better act to follow up, with the crowd still strong and buzzing on the Magic Sword vibes; a fitting transition into the dance pop that is Yacht. The crowd remained packed into the front of the stage, so much so that the lead singer even paused to call out someone who had forgotten to turn off their cell phone ringer (which seems like not normally a big deal since it was an outdoor stage? but hey, cell phone ringtones are annoying and maybe she has the same one and was sick of it).
Moving on from the main stage, I went to catch Spiritual Warfare. A recent Idaho transplant from our very own Phoenix, Spiritual Warfare is the most recent project for Joel Marquard (Gospel Claws, Samuel L and the Cool J’s). He had a funky broken TV with flashing lights creating it’s own show ambiance, while competing against the bar-cade’s neon where this was held. Luckily the mario song(s) were turned down to a minimum for the duration of the performance. With samples and juxtaposed backing tracks, Marquard’s vocals came through in what I’m going to refer to as his signature vocal effect & processing. It was quite the contrast to the bombastic dance party I’d just experienced, but a very much welcome one.
Transitioning officially into the late night show times, and having had quiet the variety of shows already, I figured it was a good time to mellow things out for a minute. Isaac Pierce and his band were a few songs into their set when I’d arrived, and there were quite a few people just hanging out on the floor of the spacious coffee shop venue as well. At first glance it seemed odd, but a few minutes of music in, I found myself too sitting off to the side stage just enjoying the tunes.
Planes on Paper - A good friend had highly recommended I catch this show, and damn they were correct. The duo Navid Eliot and Jen Borst took the stage with just an acoustic guitar, and started into their beautiful set of songs, with perfect harmonies. Being a much more casual show and venue, they joked with the audience between songs and even played a few songs the other requested to play. It was a great capstone to a great day that proved first hand that Treefort knows how to throw a party that will have more than plenty of things for everyone to enjoy.
That turned out to not be my last stop that day. Catching Oddisee for a fantastic late late set, it was another total 180 for my day as far as energy but I’m glad I was able to catch what I could of it. I didn’t stay to the end as my feet had given up, but it was his buzzy tunes that carried me into the uber that night and off to sleep shortly thereafter.
I was off to a late start on Sunday, given the intensity of the day before. The city itself seemed to be ready to make the most of the finally moments, all of Day 5 of Treefort’s 5th year, rain be dammed!
The first set that I caught was Y La Bamba. Hi, I’m Jesii and I’m now in love with this band. Starting off solo, lead singer Luz Elena Mendoza entranced the audience instantly with her vocals. She invited a friend onstage to harmonize with her for the second half of the start of the set, and then the entire band joined them. Playing through their traditional Mexican fused alt rock, bringing in 3 part harmonies and brass, getting everyone within ear shot moving.
Jumping straight into more bad ass woman fronted bands, Deep Sea Diver was up next on the main stage. Bringing their funky pop sensibilities to the stage, singer Jessica Dobson made it look easy up there. From keys to the guitar, the percussion even switched for a few songs and the drummer became the keys player. Gotta love when a band is talented enough to play any part! I’m pretty stoked to have learned her rad hair style secret too when chatting alter, but you’ll have to ask her yourself to find out.
There was a second small stage in the beer tent adjacent to the main stage, and I happily stumbled upon Tuft while waiting in line for my first and last beer of the day. They surprised me being on the small awkward stage, as they were killer and deserve a much bigger stage next year. I’m in love with the singers’ voice (golden falsetto like the long gone days of Fleet Foxes). Can you come (back) to Phoenix soon please?
I found my way back to the main stage post beer/Tuft, to catch the funky sentry tunes of Chairlift. Lead singer Caroline Polachek waltzed out in the best outfit I’d seen yet of the entire event… a white structured coat with fine, and shimmery neon pink harm pants. I was instantly jealous that I wasn’t a foot taller as a human to be able to rock things like that without them all dragon on the ground. Back to the tunes - the bass was turned up in a way that their set literally shook my bones, with her soaring vocals floating around the ether on top. It worked like magic.
Leading into the final hours of the festival was Boise’s own Youth Lagoon. Recently it was announced that founder Trevor Powers would be ending the project known as Youth Lagoon, and that this show at Treefort would be the last as this group in the US. It seems a good example of how much Treefort has been a part of local bands lives, for them to choose their home turf for their last show having come from playing much larger cities and crowds on their last tour. Boise turned out for YL in force, and the air was simply electric while they played through their songs. The Magic Sword spider made a repeat appearance as well. It was a very fitting way to end the main stage of Treefort on it’s 5th day, in it’s 5th year, and to say goodbye to a key part of the history of the festival with Youth Lagoon leading the farewell parade.
It wasn’t the last set of the entire festival however, lucky for those that got in, Quilt reeled in the late night Sunday crowd to the same small venue (my old usual bar) that I’d seen Couches at the day before. I’m a big fan, and was happy to catch them live to hear the harmonies and stories they had to tell. Bringing a close to my night, and to the 5 days altogether, I bid farewell to the Neurolux once again, and walked past the lingering crowd anticipating their next musical move.
Satisfaction set in after landing my tired feet at home, with buzzing ears and a very happy heart to have been part of such a great week’s worth of music, community, and art. Happy Treefort 2016, and a hearty cheers to next year.