After a killer weekday startup, Treefort fest was in full swing come Friday with the main stage opening up, food trucks and thrift shops lining the streets, and the drinks flowing over at Alefort. Opening up on the Mainstage was Columbian-born, Toronto-based artist Lido Pimienta. Singing entirely in Spanish and suggesting the audience brush up on their Rosetta Stone, Pimienta grounded herself in a sumo stance while her voice trilled up and down inline with the edm/folk hybrid instrumentation.
Twin Peaks took the mainstage next in their second showing at the festival. While they undoubtably have the talent, showmanship, and fanbase to support that spot, the time of day (early evening) and the barrier between the stage and fans created a disconnect that was uncharacteristic of their shows. By any other band’s standards, it was a more than solid set, but by Twin Peaks standards, it was a bit watered down and tame.
Up next at the Linen Building, I caught Prom Queen, whose songs could seamlessly replace the opening credit music of a sexy 60s film. They were followed by Canadian sludge-pop group, FRIGS. Lead singer Bria Salmena cast a dark, hypnotic spell over the audience with her growls and groans as she swung back and forth like a human pendulum. As FRIGS was finishing up, there was maybe one of the most anticipated shows of the festival happening at the main stage—George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic. The stage and stands were overflowing with people. There was dancing onstage, offstage, in the streets outside. It was pretty unreal to have the founding father of funk throwing down around so many musicians that he had directly or indirectly influenced and to see such an energized, dynamic set from a man who’s definitely been around for a while.
George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic
I then got together with The Regrettes, whose doo-wop/punk hybrid manages to be a head-banging source of escapism as well as a way to stand up to the man. The band has been very vocal with their political beliefs, whether that’s supporting women’s rights or the parkland shooting survivors, not only on social media, but in their music. “I think it’s important that we’re really unapologetic about our opinions and continue to make sure people feel empowered to use their voice and to speak their mind,” lead singer, Lydia Night, said on using their platform for social justice. While sitting down to chat, they’re as sweet as can be, but they acquire a mischievous glint in their eyes come performance time. Night taunted the audience with little quips like, “You know what a mosh pit is, right?” in an effort to get the audience to take themselves a little less seriously. The Regrettes’ set was sandwiched between Pujol and a second showing from The Districts. I had previously been unfamiliar with Pujol, but was instantly taken with them. They’re the kind of raw, snotty, garage-punk you’d want to hear in the basement of a house party. The Districts proved the perfect closers for the night with Robbie Grote performing some more intimate numbers solo, bringing us down gently from our high. The Regrettes
Day four and five definitely seemed to slow down a bit. While mainstage standouts, Low Cut Connie, brought a rollicking rockabilly set fueled with high kicks and shirt rips by front man, Adam Weiner, it was paired with him hungrily beckoning to the audience for more engagement. After the previous 3 beer soaked days and nights, it seemed like Boise was starting to get partied out. While there were still acts like Thunderpussy and Pussy Riot that packed houses on Saturday night (so much so that I wasn’t even able to see them), the shows I experienced weren’t at the same level of crazy as they had been the first couple nights. With such a stacked lineup, it would have been great if some of those acts that were packed into the first couple days were more spread out, but then again, there’s a real rush from staying on the constant high of bouncing from killer set to killer set without a chance to breathe, eat, or hydrate. Saturday night did bring some great sets, though. Canadian band, Partner, had a hilariously honest and early-2000s feeling mainstage showing with songs whose subject matter ranged from being too high to be online and getting mistaken for Ellen Page, to finding your roommate’s sex toy. My favorite act of the day, though, was Chicago artist, Nnamdi Ogbonnaya. Defying genre, he blends rap, jazz, soul, and plenty of synths with some of the smartest writing I’ve seen and a cartoonish persona. He closed out the night with let gO Of my egO, which, if you haven’t heard it yet, is about to become a top played song in your rotation.
Low Cut Connie
Low Cut Connie
The lineup for Sunday suited the hungover/I have work tomorrow vibe that everyone was feeling. There was a lot more folk and a lot more slow jams. Wild Ones opened up on the Mainstage despite the random snowstorm that very same morning. While Danielle Sullivan’s delicate croons were a nice change, I found that I needed the jolt to my system I had grown accustomed to getting over the past few days. Their set was beautifully done, but probably better suited for a venue that had a more intimate feel. Field Medic had just that sort of feel at The Linen Building. He spun the audience gently around his finger as he warbled on about Pegasus, hookers, and a one true love. There were tears throughout the audience with his number “uuu”, which could turn even a cynic sentimental. Typhoon, Conan Mockasin, and Jamila Woods finished things out on the mainstage, followed by hometown heros, Built to Spill.
By night’s end, fingers were frozen and noses were sniffling as Treefort came to a close. It was an incredible and exhausting five days, but five days I would repeat in a heartbeat. Even with it’s minor flaws, I think Treefort is one of the best festivals out there. The lineup is exceptionally curated, the venues are intimate, and the city of Boise is a hidden gem. It’s also just different from most festivals. I heard from countless artists how in awe they were of the turnout and the support they received from audiences. Maybe that has to do with the nature of the lineup or the venues or, honestly, the people of Boise, but this was by far the most invested group of “festival goers” I’ve seen. It’s also incredibly affordable, with tickets as low as $50 for a five day pass. With all the money you save on that alone, I’m thinking we should reroute our trips to Indio, California next season and all head to Boise instead.